How to unblock a bathroom sink

How to unblock a bathroom sink

Jeremy, Construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Guide written by:

Jeremy, Construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Unblocking a bathroom sink is a straightforward process. Most of the time, you just need to clean out the basin waste. However, sometimes the waste pipe itself can get clogged. In this case, you'll usually have to use a chemical drain unblocker. Read on for our step-by-step guide to unblocking a basin.

Important features

  • Remove, clean and replace the waste
  • Break down the blockage with a drain unblocker
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Why do bathroom sinks get blocked?

Why do bathroom sinks get blocked?

A blocked basin is caused by a build-up of materials such as:

  • hair;

  • remnants of beauty products, shaving foam, toothpaste, etc. ;

  • items that have fallen in the basin such as cotton buds.

A trap is fitted beneath the basin to prevent blockages from forming constantly. This part is designed to be accessible and easy to remove.

Steps

  1. Remove, clean and replace the waste

  2. Break down the blockage with a drain unblocker

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Drain unblockers

1. Remove, clean and replace the waste

1. Remove, clean and replace the waste

Proceed as follows:

  • Remove any water from the basin.

  • Place a container beneath the waste to collect water as it is removed.

  • Unscrew the waste trap. This is the lower part of the waste designed to catch solid material.

  • This part is unscrewed in an anti-clockwise direction. You can use water pump pliers to help you with this task as long as you take care not to damage the trap.

  • Pour the contents of the trap into the bucket set up beneath the waste.

  • You might want to remove the entire waste. This is also easy to do: simply unscrew the two nuts linking the waste to the drain and waste pipe.

  • Clean all dismantled parts.

  • Replace the trap and waste, and run water into the basin to check if the water is draining normally.

  • Check that you have installed the waste properly and that it is not leaking. If required, remove and replace the trap again taking care to ensure the threads are aligned correctly.

If the problem persists, this means that the blockage is lower down in the drain. A few methods can be used to unblock drains. Below are some of the most effective.

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Basin traps

2. Eliminate the blockage with a drain unblocker

You can use a chemical drain unblocker which is made from caustic soda. This kind of product is effective for breaking down any kind of organic material but be careful – these products are highly corrosive and toxic. Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully before use.

Pour the product into the basin and leave it to work according to the packet instructions.

Once the time is up, boil some water and pour it into the basin. This will help to turn any organic material, which can solidify at room temperature, into liquid. When handling this type of product, be sure to wear safety glasses and protective gloves. These products are dangerous and corrosive and can splash.

Use a plunger to finish off the blockage

2. Eliminate the blockage with a drain unblocker

Finally, you can use a plunger to get the blockage moving and draining away.

Position the plunger over the plug of the blocked sink. Remember to block the overflow using a piece of tape or a cloth. It is important to wear the appropriate PPE or safety wear when handling corrosive products.

Pump the plunger to help move the blockage along the pipe until it drains away.

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Protective gloves

Alternative methods for unblocking a sink

Alternative methods for unblocking a sink

Generally speaking, sink blockages occur gradually. There are two ways to know if your basin is blocked:

  1. The water isn't running as easily as it used to.

  2. Your pipes have started making unusual noises.

It's much easier to deal with a blockage while there is still some water drainage. To stop the problem before it begins, be sure to clean your waste on a regular basis.

This will prevent the vast majority of basin blockages. But if you still haven't had any success, there are a few other solutions including using a drain snake or drain blaster. Alternatively, you can opt for a more environmentally friendly biological drain unblocker.

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How to unblock a basin

Required skills

Required skills

Unblocking a basin is a very simple process provided that the blockage is located in the basin waste and not further down in the drain. In either case, removing and cleaning out the waste is essential.

Time required

Required time

10 to 45 minutes

Number of people required

Number of people required

1 person

Tools and equipment

Tools and equipment

The type of equipment you need will depend on the unblocking method you have chosen. You may need some or all of the following items.

  • Container

  • Water pump pliers

  • Cloths

  • Chemical drain unblocker

  • Kettle or pot to boil water

  • Plunger

  • Drain snake

  • Drain blaster

Safety and workwear

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Please note: this is a non-exhaustive list; be sure to match your personal protective equipment to the job at hand.

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Drain unblockers

More information

 
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Guide written by:

Jeremy, Construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Jeremy, Construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Electrician by trade, I first worked in industrial estates where I installed, wired and fixed a large number of electrical installations. After this, I managed a team of electricians for this type of work. 10 years or so ago, I turned to building and construction. From the modest family home, to gyms and theatres, I have been able to coordinate, audit and organise all sorts of construction sites. For 4 years now, I am restoring and building an extension to a bungalow in the heart of the Welsh countryside. My experience in manual work and my knowledge means I am proud to be of service. Terraces, interior design, roofing, plumbing, electrics, anything goes! My wife, daughter and I, built almost everything we have from scratch! So to answer all of your questions and advise you on choosing your tools? Easy!

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