No matter how careful you are in the kitchen (or bathroom), getting the occasional clogged drain is part of life. Professionals like the Plumbing Detectives (a busy plumber in Lane Cove) are often called for blocked drains even though many home-owners can often take care of these problems on their own. Here’s how:
Use a Plunger
The classic approach is the good old sink plunger. It creates a seal around the drain and when you push down on the handle, it forces water and air downward to blow out the clog. The key is to get a good seal all the way around the drain. If you don’t, the water and air just bubbles out into the sink.
And while we’re on the subject of plungers, you will want to make sure you are using the right type for the sink. Sink plungers are a simple cup of rubber, but one for the toilet has a second cylinder inside that cup for better drain suction. You may be able to use a toilet plunger in the sink but it will be awkward to use because it is sized for the larger toilet drain.
A Drain Snake
If the plunger isn’t getting the job done, you may need to step up your game with a drain snake. This is what most professional plumbers use, and you can get a reasonably-priced one at most hardware or home improvement stores.
It is a long flexible tube with a claw section at the end that you unwind down the drain. Though flexible enough to move through the bends in the pipe, it is stiff enough to put a lot of force to the clog once you start working. You just send the snake down until it stops, then twist and pull with it to break up the blockage.
The Chemical Option
Both of these suggestions so far are “mechanical” in that they use physical force to disrupt the blockage. You can also try the chemical route, with either store-bought drain cleaner or a more natural DIY mixture.
Drain cleaning products are quite caustic and will literally eat away at the clog (which is usually made up of organic material like food, grease or hair). After allowing the chemicals to work for a time, the block just dissolves away. They can be very toxic and not everyone is happy with the fumes and risk associated with them. Even so, they do work and can have their place.
On the other hand, you can use more natural options to create a similar effect. A common mixture is vinegar and baking soda, which will give a strong fizzing reaction when they mix. Granted, this will only work if the clog is fairly close to the drain because pouring baking soda will only go so far. Anyway, pour about 1 cup of each down the drain, then plug the hole. The fizzing and gas build-up can be enough to dislodge the problem in about half an hour.
Hopefully one of these methods will help get things running smoothly again for you without having to call in the professional.