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If your sink drain gets backed up, you probably reach for the liquid drain cleaner to solve the problem. But if that doesn’t work, what do you do? Watch this video to find out some other tried and true methods of unclogging a sink drain.

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Unfortunately, a slow drain usually isn’t the type of problem that just goes away on its own. Sooner or later you have to fix it. While clearing all that mess out of the drain isn’t a pleasant task, there are several ways you can try to fix the problem yourself before calling a professional.

There are of course many different types of chemical drain openers that will work on drains in kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks and bathtubs. If you try any of these chemical cleaners, please be sure to read and follow all instructions on the packaging carefully.

Here, I’ll discuss a few other, non-chemical ways to address the more serious clogs in the drain.

Whatever method you choose, you’ll find the products and tools you need at your local independent home improvement retailer. The staff there will be happy to answer any of your questions.

We’ll start with the simplest method of clearing a drain in the bathroom sink. If a drain is completely clogged and no water will go down, first try removing the pop-up drain.

The pop-up is attached to a pivot rod behind the drain. First loosen the nut attached to the drain and remove the pivot rod. Now you can remove the pop-up. This often collects hair, which creates a clog.

The next thing you can do is to try a simple suction cup plunger. Be sure to leave the pop-up out but replace the pivot rod and tighten the nut. This is so water won’t leak out.

Let hot water run until it is about 2 inches deep in the sink. The water helps form a seal for the plunger, which you will place directly over the drain. Pump the plunger several times to try to remove the clog.

If that does not work, try an auger, also called a drain snake. These have a handle that spins the wire shaft and a blade at the other end that breaks up the clog.

To use it, push the auger through the drain as far as you can until it reaches a block. Then, tighten the thumbscrew and rotate the handle. The auger should begin to work its way through the pipe and break up any blockage. You may have to repeat this several times.

Another way of cleaning out the drain is to take apart the trap. Underneath every sink and tub is a trap (like this one) that holds water to prevent sewer gasses from coming up through the drain and into the house. This is often the place where a clog occurs, and it’s pretty easy to remove and clean out. Just loosen the slip nuts at both ends of the trap using a pair of channel locking pliers, then remove the trap from the drain assembly and clean it out if necessary.

For tough clogs, you may have to remove the trap to feed the auger in through the drain coming out of the wall rather than make it bend around the trap.

You can use these same tools for clearing out a clog in the bathtub, the kitchen sink or a utility sink. More than likely, one of these methods will remove the clog. However, if these methods do not work, check with your local independent home improvement retailer to see what other tools or products may be available.

If you have questions about this or any other home improvement project, be sure to read our list of Frequently Asked Questions for this video. And be sure to print out our Project Instructions, which includes a Tools and Materials checklist, before visiting your local independent home improvement retailer. That’s where you’ll find all the products and helpful advice to complete your project. If you’re not sure where to find your local store, check out our Store Locator.

Good luck with your project and thanks for watching.

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  1. 1.clean hole

    Try using a simple drain cleaner to see if this fixes the problem.

  2. 2.make level

    Detach the sink plug from the pivot rod under the sink.

  3. 3.let dry

    Take out the the sink plug and remove any foreign material from it.

  4. 4.spackle

    If the clog remains, use a plunger. Reattach the pivot rod (without replacing the sink plug).

  5. 5.use metal patch

    Fill the sink with some water (if needed) to create a seal for the plunger and plunge the drain a few times.

  6. 6.sand surface

    If that doesn't work, use an auger/drain snake.

  7. 7.wipe off dust

    Push the auger through the drain until it reaches the clog.

  8. on patch

    Tighten the thumb screw and rotate the top handle. This should push through the clog. May need repeating.

  9. 9.add drywall compound

    Not working? Check the drain trap.

  10. 10.sand surface

    Place a container for catching water under the drain. Remove the trap and clean out if needed.

  11. 11.large hole repair

    For tougher clogs, use the auger/drain snake in the pipes.


Project Faqs « back to project

I think my kitchen drains are partially clogged, because the sink drains slowly. What do you recommend?

First, try using a plunger. Second, try using a liquid drain opener, but use caution and read directions. Third, you can remove the trap. Be... More »

Can I use a cup plunger to unclog my toilet?

It may work, but a forced ball plunger is designed to make more of a seal around the bottom of the toilet to remove the... More »


What type of plunger should I use to unclog my toilet?

The best type of plunger to buy is one that includes a flange around the bottom. This allows the plunger to create a better seal inside the toilet.... More »


Can I replace my sink with a larger one?

Yes, if you have laminate countertops and if there is enough room in the cabinet under your existing sink to accommodate the larger sink. You’ll... More »

Is a trap necessary under the sink?

You need a trap to shut off odor (sewer gas) from coming into the kitchen and bath... More »

What is an under-mount sink?

It’s a type of sink that mounts underneath the counter. It’s common in kitchens with solid surface... More »

How do I remove hard water stains from my stainless steel sink?

Try cleaning it with a cloth dipped in rubbing... More »

How much countertop space should I have beside the sink?

Experts recommend having 36” on either side of the sink, with 24” as the bare... More »

I want a countertop that has a sink molded in with no seams to caulk or get dirty.

The solid surface countertop has this type of sink and is very easy to keep... More »

I bought a new faucet with a built-in pull out spray nozzle, and now I have an extra hole in my sink where the pull-out spray used to be.

You can use this hole for a variety of handy accessories, such as a soap dispenser or for the dispenser of an under-sink water filtration... More »

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Comments (1)

  1. Don’t use drain cleaner if you have cheap plastic pipes or a garbage disposal. It will eat right through the pipes and can destroy a disposer.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm