Everything About a Clogged Sink: What Causes Them, What Clogs Can You Repair vs. Calling a Plumber

The Short Answer Is: A sink can clog due to a buildup of grease, soap residue, hair, or foreign objects in the drain pipe, impeding the water flow. Homeowners can often unclog minor sink blockages using a plunger, a drain snake, or a chemical drain cleaner specifically designed for the type of clog they're dealing with. However, if DIY methods fail, or if there are recurrent clogs, it's advisable to call a plumber promptly to assess the situation.

For those in Louisville, Kentucky, a clogged sink means frustration and annoyance. Clogs in the kitchen or bathroom sink keep homeowners from enjoying day-to-day life. Because of this, homeowners want to know the best ways to remove sink clogs on their own.

Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling provides residents of Louisville with the most effective methods to get rid of stubborn sink clogs. Our plumbers discuss some of the most common causes of clogged sinks and how to best handle blockage removal. At the end of the article, we mention some instances where the help of a plumber is crucial.

Clogged Sink Causes

An assortment of items cause clogs in kitchen and bathroom sinks. These items find their way down the drain either on accident or on purpose. However, they all are common causes of sink clogs. Use this list to understand your own sink disposal habits. If you find the items on this list are frequently disposed of down the drain, refrain from discarding them to prevent future clogs.  

  • Eggshells. Eggshells are often used to clean the garbage disposal in kitchen sinks. However, the eggshells get caught in the blades or in the pipe, which leads to blockages. A clogged sink from eggshells often worsens over time because other food waste stacks on top of the shells. When this happens, the other food waste has trouble passing the shells because of their inability to dissolve in water.

  • Oils. Next, oily substances like cooking grease or coconut oil stick to the sides of the pipe in your sink. Over time, these fatty oils continue to stick to itself and other food waste to create large, stubborn clogs. When food waste gets embedded in the grease, they are much harder to remove because of the sticky nature of oil. 

  • Rice and pasta. In general, carbohydrates expand in water. Pasta and rice are two of the most common examples in a clogged sink. Because rice and noodles both grow larger when in water, they form blockages in the sink pipes. This makes it difficult for other waste to travel down the pipe, which causes even larger clogs to form.

  • Hair. Mostly found in bathrooms, hair clogs contribute to clogged sinks across Louisville. Hair naturally falls from heads, bodies, or pets on a daily basis, which means it collects practically everywhere. In the sink, hair clumps together and gets caught on parts of the pipe. It also gets stuck in oily substances like hair conditioner or soap to make existing clogs larger. 

  • Soap, minerals, and dirt. These materials are almost impossible to avoid in a clogged sink because they’re parts of everyday life for most homeowners. Minerals are present in water itself, which means collection in pipes is inevitable. However, water filtration systems stop many minerals from entering the pipes. Soap and dirt collect over time to cause small clogs, as well as contribute to previously existing blockages.

  • Coffee grounds. For coffee drinkers, avoid disposing coffee grounds down the drain. Grounds stick together when in water, which means they’re perfect for creating clogs in the sink drain. Other food waste items often collect on top of the coffee grounds to make big, difficult-to-remove clogs. 

  • Small objects. Sometimes, a clogged sink occurs from accidental means, like dropping small objects down the drain. These items are often rings, earrings, or small toys. Because of their abnormal shapes and sizes, they get caught in the pipes. Removal often involves physically lifting the item out of the pipe to avoid damage to both the pipe and the lost object.

  • Beans and potatoes. The last common causes of a clogged sink are beans and potatoes. Like carbohydrates, these foods expand in water to create blocks in the pipe. Much like many items on this list, they expand large enough to trap other waste, which creates an even bigger clog.

Clogged Sink DIY Solutions

The common causes of sink clogs, luckily have easy solutions most homeowners are able to complete on their own. DIY methods to remove clogs are simple compared to other plumbing solutions, which makes it ideal for those who want to deal with a clog at home. These methods are all considered tried and true remedies for clogged sinks. 

  • Garbage disposal. First, run the garbage disposer to see if the clog dislodges. Sometimes, a clogged sink stems from a blockage in the disposer itself. This calls for running the disposer in short bursts like a pulse on a blender to move the clog down. Doing this clears the blades and pushes the clog down the pipe.

  • Vinegar and baking soda. Many homeowners use the vinegar and baking soda method to remove clogs from sinks in the kitchen and bathroom. When combined, these substances create a chemical reaction to push bubbles through the clog and break off pieces of it. Cover one drain with a towel and pour in equal parts of vinegar and baking soda. Let it sit for a few minutes before pouring boiling water down the drain. This cleans away the mixture.

  • Plunger. Plungers are often used to unclog toilets, but they also are able to remove clogs from bathroom and kitchen sinks. Fill the sink with a small amount of water. Next, plunger the drain for under a minute. When finished, release some water down the drain. The pressure this creates dislodges the clog and pushes it down the pipe. 

  • Augers and snakes. Your clogged sink benefits from the use of a snake or auger. These tools have hooks along the sides to latch on the clog. When latched, pull up the snake, and the clog comes with it. If you don’t own a snake, bend a wire hanger to the correct shape and use it in a similar way.

  • Drain maintenance. Next, consider how often you maintain the sinks in your home. Regular maintenance—like pouring boiling water down the drain—prevents clogs from forming. Perform maintenance every few months to keep drains clean. Also, schedule a professional maintenance visit once a year to maintain the overall health of your plumbing system. 

  • Boiling water. Pour boiling water down a clogged sink to melt away some of the clog. In some cases, this removes enough of the clog for it to slide down the pipe. Additionally, the boiling water cleans the sides of the pipes to prevent grease and other sticky substances from building up. Do this every few weeks to keep clogs at bay.

  • Salt and baking soda. Salt and baking soda is another at-home method to remove clogs. Pour equal amounts of these items down the drain, then add boiling water. The reaction produced by these materials is similar to the vinegar and baking soda reaction, which means bubbles cut through the clog to remove it. 

Most importantly, avoid use of harsh chemical cleaners. These cleaners cause damage to the pipes because the chemicals used are incredibly corrosive. Over time, the pipes become thinner and thinner until they start leaking. In the worst cases, pipes burst due to overuse of these harsh chemical cleaners. Avoid the worst entirely by avoiding chemical cleaners.

Clogged Sink Issues for a Plumber

The above methods remove most blockages from a clogged sink. However, some clogs are too difficult to remove with DIY methods. When this is the case, homeowners turn to professional plumbers to unclog their sinks.

  • Chronic clogging. If one or more of your sinks experience chronic clogging, then a plumber must be contacted to diagnose the underlying issue. A sink with a clog usually has a simple solution, but sinks with constant clogs have larger problems. Plumbers diagnose the issue and discuss further options with the homeowner to ensure the longevity of the fixture.

  • Leaking. Leaks in conjuncture with clogs mean a plumber needs to take a look at the problem. When clogs are present for long periods of time, they put pressure on the pipe. Water gets forced through cracks in the pipe, which leads to leaks. Examine areas around clogged sinks to see if puddles of water have formed.

  • Deep clogs. Sinks with deep clogs require the expertise of a plumber because they have the proper tools to deal with blockages far down in the pipe. They often have industrial snakes or augers built for deep clog removal.

  • At-home methods didn’t work. If your clogged sink didn’t benefit from DIY methods, then it’s time to call in professional help. Some clogs are either too large or too stubborn for at-home removal, so contact a plumber when you’ve run out of DIY options. Additionally, plumbers take a look at the pipes to diagnose any other potential problems, which improves the quality of your plumbing overall.

Call Jarboe’s for a Clogged Sink

Louisville, Kentucky, homeowners want DIY methods to cure a clogged sink. With the advice provided above, residents of Louisville know the best ways to clear out their bathroom and kitchen sinks. Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating & Cooling keeps homeowners informed so they don’t have to worry about the problems associated with sink clogs.

Jarboe’s is here to help with all your plumbing needs. For more information on our services, browse our website. To speak directly with one of our staff members, give us a call today. We’re happy to discuss maintenance visits, and we offer free estimates on your service!

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