How to Clear a Clogged Kitchen Drain

Do you have a clogged kitchen drain? With the proper tools and a little knowledge, you will be able to clear most stubborn causes of clogs in about less than an hour. You can save yourself the costly plumbing services and get the job done yourself by following these steps:

1. Secure The Right Tools To Start.

A clogged kitchen drain can ruin a perfect evening with your family or friends, but you can deal with this problem quickly with the use of two inexpensive tools—the plunger and the plumber’s snake.

The Plunger
This household device is sold at any home center or hardware store near you. For your kitchen drain, you can opt for one that has a larger rubber bell, which is known to deliver more thrust. Also, it should have a stout handle so that you will be able to apply plenty of force when you are at it.

The Snake
Sometimes called the hand auger, this tool can be cheap or expensive, depending on its turning mechanism, size and length. For a high level of functionality, the 3/8-inch model that can reach about 20 feet is highly recommended, as it is easier to turn down the drain. However, the shorter 1/4-inch type can also work for any type of clog as well.

Aside from these two main tools, you should also keep several other items handy, including a plastic bin or bucket that can perfectly fit under your kitchen sink, flashlight and rubber gloves.

2. Use The Plunger.

Holding tightly a wet cloth over the sink drain to cat like a seal, set your plunger over it and then plunge up and down vigorously for at least 15 seconds. If you have a dishwasher, then do not forget to clamp the hose and fill the sink with about 3 to 4 inches of water, which will ensure that the plunger will have more pushing power. When plunging, roll the plunger’s head into the water in order to force water (not air) into the drain. On the last upstroke, pop the tool off the mouth of the kitchen drain for additional pressure. If the water still does not swirl straight down the drain, then you can repeat the process for several minutes. Remember that using the plunger can be quick and easy, but it can also be wet and messy, so you might want to keep towels on hand to soak up spills. Also, avoid plunging if you are using drain cleaners or chemicals in the sink, as these solutions can cause serious burns on your skin if you are splashed.

3. Clean The P-Trap.

When disassembling the trap, loosen the slip nut on its arm and the taste tee, and then wiggle the trap free. Now, you can check the waste tee if it is clogged. If so, clean it. Clogs in the P-trap and the drain’s trap arm often occur when coffee grounds and grease stick to them. Sometimes, these things cannot be removed by plunging, which means that you have to remove and disassemble the P-trap. Follow these steps.

  • Start by sponging water from the sink to lessen the flow under it by the time you pull off the trap, and make sure you have your bucket or pan underneath to catch spilled water. Whether you have plastic drain lines or those that have metal traps and pipes, you will need slip-joint pliers to loosen the slip nuts and break the pipes free. Unscrew the slip nut between the P-trap and its arm first, and then the nut that is found at the bottom of the waste tee. Be gentle when loosening to avoid bending or cracking the trap assembly.
  • If the clog is in the trap, then clean it. After you reinstall it, test the drain line with warm water. Do not over-tighten the slip nuts as they might lose their thread. Hand-tightening, plus a quarter turn using a pair of pliers, should be enough.
  • If the clog is not in the P-trap, then you should remove its arm to clean. You can run a screwdriver around the inside of the stub-out of the pipe and pull out any objects that may have collected in its opening.

If these steps do not work, then it is time to use the snake.

4. Snake The Pipeline.

When inserting the snake into the drain, thread its tip into the stub-out, tighten the setscrew and then turn the crank clockwise to feed it into the pipe. Follow these steps:

  • Start by loosening the setscrew at the snake’s tip and pulling out 6 to 10 inches of its cable. Tighten the screw before spinning the cable down into the pipeline. You should initially feel an obstruction early on, but this is most likely the tip of the snake turning a corner, so loosen the setscrew again, pull out another 6 to 10 inches of cable and then continue to feed the cable into the line.
  • If you feel the snake has hit an obstruction, continue cranking and pushing it through the clog until you feel its tip biting through, which will be obvious because of the drop of the cable’s tension. Now, turn the crank counterclockwise and pull out the snake, cleaning as you pull as it would be covered with gunk. Also, keep that pan or bucket handy, as you may get a large chunk of material at the end of the cable. Repeat the process until you no longer feel something blocking the pipeline.

Avoiding Clogs

You can prevent any type of clog from occurring by observing proper care when using your kitchen drain. Avoid overloading your waste disposal unit with meat and other food remains that are high in starch or fiber. Also, run plenty of cold water down your kitchen drain. Never dump coffee grounds or bacon grease into the drain, as they would solidify when allowed to settle and cool.

If you have followed these steps properly and still not able to clear your clogged kitchen drain, then maybe it is time to call in the professionals.

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