A bathroom sink not draining can be frustrating, but there are common causes and natural methods to address the issue. Here’s a summary:
Causes of a Bathroom Sink Not Draining
- Clogs: Hair, soap scum, toothpaste, and debris can accumulate in the drainpipe, leading to clogs that obstruct water flow.
- P-Trap Blockage: The P-trap, a U-shaped pipe beneath the sink, can trap debris and create blockages.
- Mineral Buildup: Over time, minerals from hard water can accumulate in pipes, narrowing the passageway and impeding drainage.
Natural Ways to Fix a Bathroom Sink Not Draining
- Boiling Water: Pouring boiling water down the drain can help dissolve and dislodge some minor clogs. Be cautious with PVC pipes, as hot water may damage them.
- Baking Soda and Vinegar: Combine equal parts baking soda and vinegar, pour it down the drain, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Follow with hot water to flush away debris and clear clogs.
- Plunger: Use a sink plunger to create suction and dislodge clogs. Fill the sink with enough water to cover the plunger’s head, then plunge vigorously.
- Wire Hanger: Straighten a wire hanger and create a hook at one end. Insert it into the drain to fish out debris and hair.
- Remove and Clean the P-Trap: Place a bucket beneath the P-trap, unscrew it, and remove any debris. Reassemble it and check if the sink drains properly.
- Auger or Snake: If the clog is deep within the drainpipe, a plumbing auger or snake can help reach and clear it.
- Preventive Measures: To avoid future clogs, use a drain strainer to catch debris, and regularly clean the drain with baking soda and vinegar.
How to Unclog a Bathroom Sink Naturally
I would advise that you get in the habit of unclogging drains naturally. Chemical drains cleaners are effective and break down clogs fairly fast but they are bad for the plumbing and your health.
You should especially steer clear from chemical drain cleaners if you are on a septic system. The chemicals kill the microbes inside the septic tank resulting in expensive repairs.
The following are the best ways to unclog a bathroom sink naturally:
1. Plunge the Sink
The reason I have started with this method is not because it is the best but it is the easiest especially if you have standing in the sink.
To plunge effectively, you need to have some water in the sink. The water helps the plunger to make a good seal with the sink which is what you need to clear the clog.
You should however not have a sink full of water. The water will splash on you once you start plunging.
Here is how to properly plunge and unclog a bathroom sink:
- Start by sealing the overflow drain. A sink has an overflow drain which is connected to the main drain to prevent the sink from overflowing. Since you want the pressure generated by the plunger to act on the clog and not escape through the overflow, seal it with a rag.
- Place the plunger on the sink drain opening. This needs to be a flat-bottomed plunger and not those bell-plungers used to unclog toilets.
- Start plunging gently. You need to first start by plunging gently to engage the plunger on the sink. This will also prevent the water from splashing on you.
- When the plunger is properly engaged, plunge aggressively for a few minutes.
- Lift off the plunger to check if the water in the sink is draining out.
- If the water won’t drain plunge some more.
- Your bathroom sink is unclogged if the water drains out fast.
2. Use Baking Soda, Vinegar and Boiling Water
Baking soda and vinegar are very effective in unclogging drains. Vinegar, being a weak acid reacts with the alkaline baking soda in a fizzing reaction and in the process break down the clog.
Both of these products are cheap, readily available at home and safe for the environment and pose no health risks. Baking soda and vinegar are also septic-safe.
Here is how you use baking soda and vinegar to unclog a bathroom sink:
- Start by draining the standing water in the sink. You want the baking soda and vinegar reaction to take place inside the drain line where the clog is. Scoop the water using a cup and dump it in bucket then soak the remaining water using a sponge.
Side note: If you have a wet and dry vacuum you can use it to suck out the clog easily. Just seal the overflow drain and place the hose firmly on top of the sink drain opening.
- Pour 1 cup of baking soda in the sink drain.
- Slowly add another cup of vinegar. I say slowly because vinegar reacts quite fast with the baking soda and you don’t want the solution to splash on your face.
- Wait for about 15 minutes.
- As you wait, boil about 1 gallon of water.
- Pour the gallon of boiling water inside the sink drain after the 15 minutes.
While the baking soda and vinegar will break down the clog, the hot water is very effective in melting it down further and flushes it down the drain.
I should also mention that the baking soda and vinegar combination is also a natural deodorizer. Apart from clearing clogs, it helps to remove smells from bathroom sinks and other drains.
3. Snake the Sink
In this case, snaking the bathroom sink does not involve the use of the usual plumber’s snake. There is a special tool called a drain hair remover or zip-it tool used to remove hair from sink and bathtub drains.
Unlike a plumber’s snake which has the potential to damage your plumbing pipes, this tool is made of plastic and will therefore not damage the pipes.
It is thin, flexible and with hooks on both sides for catching the hair that is clogging your sink drain. Here is how to use it:
- Insert the tool from one side of the sink stopper. If you want you can remove the stopper cap first by turning it counterclockwise.
- Push the tool up and down then pull it out all the way to see what you have caught. I can guarantee that it will come up with a gross-looking clog which will be stinky as well.
- Put it back as many times as you want until you the sink drain is clear.
- Finish the job by dumping a gallon of hot water to flush out any remaining gunk.
4. Remove and Clean the P-trap
If you look underneath your bathroom sink, you will notice that part of the drain is bending to form a U-shape. That piece is called the P-trap, drain trap, sink trap or sometimes a water trap.
A P-trap is a very important part of the drain. All drains in your house have one, including the toilet and that is why there is always water at the bottom of the bowl.
A P-trap has 2 functions:
- It is always full of water which acts as a barrier preventing sewer gases from coming up through the drains, but to do so from the plumbing vent.
- Its shape allows it to trap potential drain clogs preventing them from clogging the drain line further away where unclogging would be more difficult.
If you are dealing with a clogged bathroom sink, I can guarantee you that most of the time the clog will be inside the P-trap.
Removing the P-trap and cleaning it is usually a sure-fire way of unclogging the sink.
This is how to unclog a bathroom sink by removing and cleaning the P-trap:
- Clear the area under the bathroom sink. If you use that area to store stuff, keep them aside for a moment.
- Place a small container under the P-trap. This is for draining the water already in the sink and drain line. You do not want the same spilling on your floor.
- Disconnect the P-trap. Usually, the connections are hand-tight and you do not need to use a wrench. Only use a wrench if the connections are too tight.
- Check the inside of the P-trap. Knock the gunk out and clean it using warm soapy water.
- Check the drain line on the wall if it is clogged as well. Use a garden hose or wire to pull out some of the gunk.
- Connect the P-trap back.
- End by flushing the drain line with hot water.
And basically that is how to unclog a bathroom sink. I hope this guide was helpful.