Unclog Your Kitchen Sink by Snaking the Drain Yourself
Is your kitchen sink draining slower than usual? Do you notice gurgling sounds or foul odors coming from the drain? A clogged kitchen drain is a common household plumbing headache. Fortunately, you can often clear the clog yourself using a simple drain snake, and save the cost of a plumber’s service call.
Drain snaking is an effective DIY method for removing sink clogs caused by food particles, grease, hair, and other debris. With some basic equipment and these step-by-step instructions, you can get your kitchen sink draining freely again.
What Causes Kitchen Drain Clogs?
Kitchen sink drains become clogged for several reasons:
- Food particles – Bits of food wash down the drain during cleanup. A garbage disposal helps grind up debris, but some particles still slip through.
- Grease buildup – Oil and grease from cooking solidify and coat drain pipes.
- Hair – Strands become tangled in pipes, capturing other debris.
- Soap scum – Hard-water deposits interact with grease to form thick sludge.
Drain pipes also become clogged as they age. Rust, mineral deposits, and roots from outdoor pipes can obstruct water flow. Old pipes may have sagging spots where debris collects.
Signs of a Clogged Drain
Watch for these common signs your kitchen drain is clogged:
- Water drains from the sink very slowly
- Gurgling noises can be heard from pipes underneath
- Sinks and tubs back up with standing water
- You notice foul sewage odors coming from drains
- Pipes leak around joints as backed up water pushes past the clog
Trying a DIY Drain Cleaner First
Before snaking your drain, start with a simple DIY drain cleaner. This may break up or dislodge the clog enough to get water flowing again:
- Baking soda and vinegar – Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup hot vinegar. Let the fizzing chemical reaction work for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with hot water.
- Boiling water – Boil a full kettle of water and slowly pour down the drain. The heat can help melt grease clogs.
- Salt and baking soda – Mix 1/2 cup salt with 1/2 cup baking soda and pour down the drain. Rinse with lots of hot water.
Avoid commercial drain cleaner chemicals, which can be harsh and corrosive to pipes.
How to Use a Drain Snake
If DIY drain cleaners don’t solve the problem, it’s time to pull out a drain snake. Here are the steps for snaking a kitchen sink drain yourself:
You’ll need the following supplies:
- Drain snake/auger – Get a quality metal snake designed for hand use, at least 3 ft long.
- Bucket – Catch drips and debris cleaned from the drain.
- Old rags or paper towels – For your hands and work area.
- Gloves – Protect hands from grime and cable scratches.
- Safety goggles – Prevent eye injuries from splashing disgusting drain contents.
Prepare the Drain
Start by removing components from the drain:
- Take out the sink strainer basket and/or remove the drain stopper.
- Run hot water down the drain for a minute to help loosen the clog.
Insert the Drain Snake
Now you’re ready to put the snake into the drain opening:
- Extend the steel cable to the length needed to reach the clog.
- Feed the cable down the drain, turning the handle as you push more of the snake in.
- Push past the clog, then twist the cable to hook into the debris.
- Once hooked, retract the cable, pulling the clog up the drain bit by bit.
- Keep working the snake until the drain is clear and water flows freely.
To complete the DIY drain snaking process:
- Clean off the drain snake cable so it’s ready for next time.
- Run hot water down the drain for a few minutes to flush away any residual gunk.
- Replace the sink strainer basket and/or stopper.
Calling in a Professional Plumber
A sink drain clog you can’t clear with DIY methods may require a visit from a professional plumber. Call one if:
- You’ve tried everything and the clog persists.
- The clog keeps returning shortly after you clear it.
- You lack the right tools and equipment.
- You’re unsure of the clog’s location or source.
- You’re concerned about damaging your pipes.
A plumber has high-powered equipment to clear tough clogs and can inspect your pipes with a camera to identify underlying problems. While a service call isn’t free, tackling a stubborn clog yourself can cost time and frustration.
Don’t let a clogged kitchen sink drain disrupt your household. In many cases, snaking it yourself with a basic drain auger can remove the obstruction in less than an hour, and save the hassle and cost of hiring a plumber. Keep these DIY steps in mind next time your sink is sluggish.