Having problems with your sinks getting backed up? Read on to learn what to do if your kitchen sink is clogged and the common causes for sink blockages.
8 Reasons Your Kitchen Sink is Clogged and How to Fix the Blockage
Kitchen sinks in 18th and early 19th century America were typically either metal- or stone-lined wooden boxes. They were pretty shallow and usually, some creative ways were used to handle drainage issues. Today kitchen sinks are made in a variety of different shapes and sizes. They even come in different colors and can be made from different types of materials.
Thanks to modern plumbing techniques, most of the time, there aren’t any drainage problems to contend with. Unfortunately, from time to time, you will realize your kitchen sink clogged. When that happens it’s important to know what to do. Keep reading to learn the eight reasons why you’ve got a clogged kitchen drain and what to do about it.
Reasons Your Kitchen Sink Clogged
While your kitchen sink is not a complicated feature in your home, it’s one of the most used. When your kitchen sink is clogged, that makes it very difficult to cook and clean. There are two reasons why someone has a clogged kitchen sink. The first reason is due to human error. The second reason is a malfunction in your plumbing system.
Human Error Reasons Your Kitchen Sink is Clogged
Even if you have a garbage disposal, that doesn’t mean you can just toss anything down there. There are many items those blades can’t cut through well.
And when large chunks of food or other debris get stuck down the drain, it can cause a backup. Here’s what to never put down your sink, even if you own garbage disposal:
- Food fat
- Coffee Grounds
- Fruit pits
- Cooking oils
Another thing to avoid putting down your sink is prescription medications. These medications aren’t properly removed by our sewer treatment plants and can adversely affect the environment.
Solutions to a Clogged Sink Due to Human Error
Things like rice and pasta absorb liquid and expand. Eggshells are abrasive and can dull the blades on garbage disposals. Fats and oil harden once they cool down.
1. Leftover Grease
It’s not uncommon for people to pour leftover grease into a mason jar. The problem is they don’t label it and keep it near the sink. To avoid accidentally pouring that grease down your drain you can label the jar with instructions not to pour it down the sink. You can also keep the jar under the sink to avoid potential problems.
How to Tackle Leftover Grease
If grease does jam up your drain, mix a cup of near-boiling water with a few tablespoons of salt. Let the mixture sit for one minute. Then slowly pour it down the drain and leave for 10 minutes. This should resolve the clog.
2. Old Food
Food and other organic materials should be put into a compost pile instead of down your sink. You should also scrape your plates and pans into the garbage before you place them in the sink to wash. But it’s not just big items that are a problem. Small items like coffee grinds wreak just as much havoc as larger items.
If you find your sink is clogged due to food, use a plumbing snake to get the pieces of food out. Never use bleach as it can ruin your pipes.
While it might seem like a good idea to wash your hair in the kitchen sink, it’s not. It’s a great way to get a clog even faster. If you still insist on washing your hair in the kitchen sink, invest in a sink drain guard.
How to Deal with a Hairball in Your Sink
If you already have a hairball stuck in your pipes, use a drain snake to pull it out. If you don’t have a drain snake, use an unwound wire clothing hanger. While you can also run some drain cleaning solution through your kitchen pipes, don’t use too much and make sure the chemicals in the cleaning solution won’t destroy your pipes.
4. Family Members
To prevent family members from putting the wrong things down your drain, place a list of items that should either be tossed into the garbage or the composite pile near your sink. A sink drain guard will prevent toys, stickers, and other items your kid’s place in the sink from creating a giant clog. However, if one of their toys does wind up down the drain, it’s best to call in the professionals.
5. Clogged Toilet
Don’t stick anything down the toilet except small amounts of toilet paper and actual human waste. Other items, even if they claim they’re flushable will clog the toilet and can cause your sink to overflow as well.
Non-Human Reasons Why You Have a Clogged Kitchen Drain
While most of the time when the sink drains slowly, it’s fairly reasonable to think that human error is the cause. However, that’s not always the case.
6. Mineral Build-Up
Hard water contains high levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The higher the levels, the harder the water. Those minerals contained in hard water begin to build up inside fixtures, pipes, sinks, faucets, and appliances. And it’s not something you can readily spot on your own.
As the minerals build up they cause plumbing problems such as clogs and reduced water flow. It also puts stress on your fixtures and pipes while causing appliances to operate less efficiently requiring more frequent repairs.
How to Solve Mineral Build-Up
If you live in an area with hard water, one solution is to install a water softener in your home. Otherwise, you’ll need to descale and remove the sediment and build-up regularly. It’s harder to remove the sediment once it builds up. You’ll need to call in a professional plumber to help you expertly remove the build-up.
7. Tree Roots
Even a tiny crack or leak in your underground pipes can promote tree root growth. Once the root is inside your pipes, it can quickly grow larger. As it grows, it obstructs the water flow and damages your pipes. It’s a complex job to clear tree roots from your pipes.
The job may require rooter service, pressure jet cleaning, trenchless repair, and even excavation. If you’re worried this is happening, review the root structure of your trees and monitor your drains closely.
8. Old Pipes
Depending on how old your home is, your pipes may be really old as well. How long pipes last depends on the material they’re made from such as:
- Galvanized steel lasts between 20-50 years
- Brass lasts between 40-45 years
- Copper lasts 50+ years
- Cast iron lasts between 75-100 years
And PVC piping can last indefinitely.
Signs Your Pipes are Old
If you notice corrosion, cracks or leaks on your piping, it’s a good sign there’s a problem. You may also notice the following signs:
- Wet baseboards
- Warped or water-stained flooring
- Rust-colored water tubing
If you notice your water pressure is low, you may either have a clogged drain or a leak that’s downstream from the fixture. If you hear a rattling or gurgling in your piping, that can indicate a blockage as well. Check your crawl spaces and any enclosed areas for signs of dampness or mold.
How to Fix Old Pipe Issues
For slow-moving drains, use a drain cleaner or plumber’s snake to clear it. It is possible to replace faulty fixtures and pipe connectors yourself. However, if the re-piping work is concealed underground or behind walls, demolition and repairs will be necessary.
Other Ways to Troubleshoot a Clogged Kitchen Drain
If your sink is clogged, start by turning on your garbage disposal. Often that’s enough to get the water flowing again.
The next option is to bring water to a rolling boil. Remove as much standing water as you can. Use a mug or pot to bail out the water. Pour the kettle of water into the sink. Wait a bit and if the clog doesn’t move, let the water cool. Repeat the process a few times, if necessary.
After removing standing water from your sink, pour a half cup of salt down the drain. Then pour in the boiling water. Let it sit and then flush again with hot water.
Vinegar, and Baking Soda
Pour a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar (white or apple cider) down the drain. Expect the solution to bubble for a bit. After the bubbles subside, put in a stopper and wait for 15 minutes. Run boiling water down the drain to see if it clears. Repeat, if necessary.
Plungers work on toilets and kitchen sinks. If you have a double sink, seal off the second side with a stopper before you begin. Create a tight seal around the plunger by filling the side of the sink you’re unclogging with enough water to cover the bell of your plunger. Next, place the plunger directly and firmly over the drain.
Plunge several times vigorously. You should be able to hear the suction clear the clog. Once it’s unclogged, remove the plunger and flush the drain using warm water.
Clear the P-Trap
The P-trap is located at the curve of your drainpipe under the sink. Place a pan or bucket underneath the drain to catch any debris or water that falls out. Next, unfasten the P-trap from the drainpipe. Clear out anything you find. Replace it and run water through it.
When to Hire a Plumber
While it’s safe to try to remove minor clogs, not knowing what you’re doing could cause additional problems. Here’s when you should call a plumber:
- A mess is spreading
- The slow down/blockage is affecting the whole house
If you can’t quickly dislodge the clog, it’s time to call a plumber. The kitchen sink is too essential to stay clogged for long.
DIY methods don’t come with a guarantee. But when you contact us and say, “my kitchen sink clogged,” we guarantee we’ll fix the problem as quickly as possible. With so many convenient locations, there’s probably one close by to you. Don’t wait to get your pipes working properly. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.