How to unblock a sink

If your sink isn't draining, or the water is going down the plughole very slowly, it could be blocked. Here are our tips to help you unblock your sink

unblocking a sink with a plunger

A blocked sink can be both unpleasant and concerning. It’s enough to transform your kitchen from a culinary sanctuary to the last place you want to prepare something to eat. And there’s also a risk that it could overflow and cause water damage in your kitchen or bathroom.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can fix this problem and protect your health and safety without having to call in a professional. Here are our top tips for unblocking a sink at home.

1. Flush it away

A strong burst of hot water may be enough to clear the blockage. A water bottle is a handy tool for this. Try filling a large plastic bottle with hot water and place it upside down over the plughole. Then, squeeze the water down the plug as fast and hard as you can.

2. Try something stronger

If sheer force isn’t enough, you may need to use something stronger like bleach. Pour some down the plughole, leave for several hours and then rinse with hot water. 

For a more natural solution, channel your inner scientist with a cocktail of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Pour the bicarbonate of soda down the plughole first and follow it with a vinegar chaser. This doesn't need to be left to work like bleach does. As soon as it has stopped fizzing, you can rinse it with hot water.  

3. Plunge it 

Many of us have a plunger hanging about under our sink. It can be one of the best ways to clear whatever is blocking the pipe. Place the plunger over the plughole and get pumping! 

After a few minutes, fill the sink up to test how well it drains. You may need to try a couple of times before the sink drains quickly again. 

4. Clear out the U-bend

If the blockage is too stubborn for the above methods, you may have to get more hands-on. This is likely to be the least pleasant part of the job, so before you get started, change into some old clothes and grab a pair of rubber gloves. 

  1. The source of a blocked sink is usually something stuck in the U-bend. You can find this bend in the pipe under the sink, beneath the plughole. You’ll need to unscrew the pipe to get at the blockage. When doing so, be careful to catch any remaining water that may be released (a bucket or container should do the trick).
  2. Once you’ve removed the pipe, use something long, thin and bendable – a wire coat hanger is ideal – to get inside the bend and pull out whatever is causing the blockage. 
  3. Then, give the inside of the U-bend a rinse through with some hot water (use another sink or the bath so you don’t flood your floor). 
  4. Finally, reattach the pipe, making sure it’s securely fixed and watertight. 

We hope these steps will help unblock your sink, but if they don’t work it’s best to call a professional to investigate further.

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