The kitchen drain has gone from draining slowly to being completely blocked. Water is standing in the sink and you're contemplating what to do next. Do you grab a plunger or bottle of drain unclogging chemicals? Here is what you need to know about drain clogs and the various options for clearing the drain.
Anatomy of a Drain Clog
There are two types of clogs you'll contend with around the house:
Soft clog - This is normally found in your bathroom sinks and consists of hair and skin cells. The clog makes the drain run slowly but often doesn't stop it completely. The clog can usually be pulled out bit by bit to clear the drain. The clog doesn't solidify into a hard mass so they tend to be easier to remove than the other type of clog.
Hard clog - This clog is made up of material that compacts in the drain to form a solid plug. It's often found in the kitchen drain and is made of sticky food substances that adhere to the wall of the plumbing pipes. As more material pushes against the plug, it becomes more solid, making attempts at clearing the drain difficult.
Options for Clearing That Blocked Kitchen Drain
Plunger - This is worth trying, but only briefly. The plunger must seal around the drain opening tightly for this to work at all. If you have a partitioned sink with a small section draining down through the garbage disposal, a large plunger may not fit snug around the drain opening. If it does, slowly push down on the plunger, then pull up on it quickly to try to pull the clog up out of the drain. Don't try to push the clog down through the drain as you may force the clog down further and compress it more. If the clog resists after a few attempts with the plunger, stop before you force the drain pipe apart at a connector.
Chemical Drain Cleaners - These are often dangerous if they splash onto your skin and into your eyes, so follow the directions on the container completely. Some products do not recommend using through standing water. Remove all water from the sink before using that chemical. Once you use the chemical, if it fails to clear the clog, make no more attempts at clearing the clog. You'll risk getting the chemical on you by using other tools. Call a plumber to clear the stubborn clog.
Plumber's Snake - This plastic or metal rod is sent down into the drain to break up and pass through the clog. You can't use the snake on the side of the drain with the garbage disposal unit. You would have to disconnect the plumbing under the sink at the unit and pass the snake into the drain there. There is some risk that you'll force the snake through plumbing connections or through the sides of a drain pipe, if this is an old house with rusted metal drain pipes. You're better off letting a plumber use a snake to clear the clog.
If your attempts at clearing the kitchen sink clog fail after a few tries, stop and call a plumber. The harder you try to force the clog up out of the drain or down through it, the more likely it is that you'll damage your plumbing and end up with an expensive repair bill. For more information, contact Rooter Pro Plumbing or a similar company.