If your kitchen drain has suddenly stopped flowing, you may have a clog in the plumbing directly under the sink. A piece of plumbing pipe with a bend in it, called the P-trap, can get items lodged in it. If you don't have a plumbing snake handy, you can disassemble this part of the drain and clear out the clog yourself. If the clog is deeper in the drain, you'll have to call one of your local plumbing services to find the clog. Here are the steps to try to clear the drain yourself.
What You'll Need to Do This Project
- a bucket
- a couple of rags to wipe up spills
- a pipe wrench or channel lock pliers
Taking the Drain Apart
- Scoop all of the water out of the sink that you can so you'll have less mess to contend with when you disconnect the plumbing pipes.
- Clear out enough space under the sink so you can get to the plumbing pipes.
- Place the bucket under the P-trap. This is the part of the drain that looks like the letter "P" laying on its side.
- Loosen the large plastic nut that connects the P-trap to the plumbing pipe that extends straight down from the bottom of the sink. If you can't loosen the nut with your hand, use the wrench or pliers.
- Loosen the large plastic nut at the other end of the P-trap that connects it with the horizontal pipe coming out of the wall or garbage disposal.
- Wiggle the P-trap free from both pieces of pipe.
- Dump the contents of the P-trap into the bucket. If the clog was settled into the P-trap, you may have to push it out with something, like the end of wooden spoon or dowel rod.
- If there is no clog in the P-trap, it's time to call a plumber.
Putting It Back Together Again
- Wipe off the ends of the P-trap and the other two pipes to which it was connected.
- Push the longer end of the P-trap onto the horizontal pipe coming out of the wall or the garbage disposal.
- Tighten the large plastic nut with your hand until snug.
- Push the other end of the P-trap up onto the pipe coming down from the sink.
- Tighten the large plastic nut until snug.
- Wiggle the P-trap to make sure it is connected firmly to the other pipes without binding. You should be able to move the P-trap back and forth slightly on the other two pipes.
- Tighten both plastic nuts until the P-trap can no longer move against the other pipes.
- If you were able to clear a clog from the P-trap, run the sink faucet and watch for leaks below the sink. If there are any leaks where the P-trap connects to the other pipes, use the pliers or wrench to tighten the plastic nuts slightly until there are no leaks.
Problems You Might Encounter
If the pipes under your sink are metal, they may be corroded and difficult to take apart. This is a good time to have a plumber replace them with new plastic pipes to make future maintenance easier.
If the clog was not in the P-trap, it's further down in the drain. You might be tempted to buy or rent a plumbing snake and do it yourself. If you're not experienced with clearing clogs deep in a drain line, you run the risk of pushing pipes apart or punching a hole through a pipe, creating even more problems to fix. So, it's best to leave the job to a professional instead.