Sinks have a way of getting clogged at the most inopportune times. I’m still trying to get over the trauma of the Great Sink Clog of Thanksgiving 2015. Jenn has had her share of fishing out engagement rings that have fallen down the sinks at her Bar Method studio. In short, we know our way around a clog (both the shoe and obstruction). Plumbing can seem like one of those areas best left to the professionals, but often these problems can be solved without shelling out and waiting around for a plumber.
Before busting out the wrench, see if you can clean the drain manually. If using a plunger fails to loosen up the blockage, try good ol’ baking soda and vinegar. First pour 2 cups of boiling water down the drain, then pour 1 cup of baking soda, followed by 1 cup of vinegar, creating a 3rd grade science project volcano situation. Wait 5 minutes, and follow with another 2 cups of boiling hot water. You may need to repeat this process a few times to loosen the pesky clog. If you have PVC plastic pipes this will NOT work, so make sure you check before attempting.
Recently we discovered the Green Gobble drain sticks, and they are nothing short of a miracle. After dropping 2 down the shower drain, any and all smells were gone. For stinky sinks, showers or drains, one or two of these bad boys magically make smells disappear. We will never be without these unfortunately named sticks.
A drain snake is a tool that allows you to fish out the clog from deep within the pipe. We love the Zip-It tool, a flexible plastic snake that you lower into the drain and watch in horror as it pulls out muck from the depths of your pipes. The best thing about these plastic pipe cleaners is that they are disposable, so the clog and tool itself can all go straight in the trash. This tool specifically works for a bathroom sink or shower drain. We always have a stash on hand, and periodically use whenever things start to drain slowly. Catch that clog early!
P-Trap: It’s Not Just My Rap Name
If the clog is too big, or you’re trying to fish out something that has accidentally fallen down the drain, you’ll need to remove the P - trap; the curved pipe underneath your sink. Fun fact; it’s called a P-trap because it looks like a horizontal letter P! If your pipe is inside a cabinet, remove everything inside, and grab a towel, bucket, rubber gloves, and a wrench. We’re going down the drain, people!
The P-trap has three main parts; the tailpiece which comes down from the drain, the curved J-bend and the waste arm that carries the sewage out. The J-bend is secured to the other two pipes with slip joint nuts, the small rings that can screw on and off. The J-bend is the part we’ll be removing and cleaning out.
Turn off the water valve and place your bucket directly under the pipe. There’s gonna be some spillage here.
Unscrew the slip joint nuts on either side of the J-bend. You may be able to do this all by hand, but if your pipes are very old, you may need a wrench to loosen them. If deez nuts are plastic, you’ll need to be very careful not to break them. Continue to loosen them by hand until you can remove the J-bend. Water and/or gunk may come out at this point, so make sure your bucket is directly under the pipe.
Using a bottle brush, scrub out the gunky junk clog culprit. Take to another sink to rinse off any soap scum.
Once everything is cleaned out, put the J-bend back and hand tighten the slip joint nuts. Do not over-tighten; plastic nuts can easily crack if too much pressure is applied.