Perhaps nothing creates as much consternation as the kitchen sink when it finally stops draining. Seems it’s always when the family is coming over for dinner or when the dishes are just being started right after the big family meal.
Unless the sink plugs due to a catastrophic event (i.e. Junior didn’t realize you can’t pour the leftover gravy and turkey grease down the sink drain) the drain will usually give you some warning. Unfortunately, most people will not heed the warning of the gurgling drain or the slow draining sink. Then they are surprised the day that the drain finally gives up the ghost and the clearing of the drain becomes an emergency.
The moral of the story is that your kitchen drain should never be allowed to get to the point where it is running slowly. A kitchen sink drain is just like your car. It requires regular maintenance or it’s not a matter of if—it’s a matter of when it will clog.
Let’s cover how to keep the drain from getting clogged, then we’ll cover how to unclog a kitchen sink.
How to Prevent a Clogged Kitchen Sink
As pointed out, at Yes! Plumbing we believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Let’s go over how to prevent the clog and slow running drain to begin with.
Use a High Quality Garbage Disposal
First, if you have a garbage disposal, use it. “Whaaat? You want me to actually throw stuff in my drain to clog it?” Many studies have shown that using a good garbage disposal is good for your drain and good for the environment to boot. Note, we said “good”. A low quality garbage disposal will not only cause you a lot of problems but if you actually use it frequently, it will fail on you much more quickly than a higher quality garbage disposal. Higher quality garbage disposals (at Yes! Plumbing we provide disposers with 6 year, 10 year and lifetime guarantees—all made to our demanding specifications) have heavier motors and operate at higher RPM’s, allowing the food to be more finely chopped and ground than a lower speed motor. The other determiner of quality is the type of blade utilized by the manufacturer. The blades should be stainless steel and be self-sharpening. Most importantly, the grinder surface against which the blade cuts should be of stainless steel also. Once you have a good disposer, it will almost puree the waste rather than chop it into chunks. Your kitchen drain absolutely loves the puree. The good bacteria in your drain need food to replicate and digest the harmful grease and dish soap that it’s fighting against to keep that drain flowing. So feed your disposer and feed your drain.
Things to Avoid with Kitchen Drains
Second, there is a list of “don’ts” for kitchen drains. Don’t ever pour grease down the drain. Keep an old coffee can under the sink and pour leftover cooking oil and rendered fat into that. Then you can toss the can into the trash when it’s full and save your drain from choking to death. Some heavier greases can be poured or scooped directly into the garbage as they will solidify at room temp. Always use the strainer on the other side of the sink if you have a disposer side and toss the debris into the disposer side. Never wash debris down the sink strainer without using the basket. Don’t ever use acidic drain “openers”. They are horrible for metallic pipes, especially older ones that have lost the protective zinc coating due to age. Plastic pipes are not immune, either. Plumbing codes require special pipes called acid waste pipes to handle acids in plumbing pipes so don’t assume plastic pipes will be immune to the damaging effects of drain cleaners. These products are usually expensive, don’t work, and create a cleanup and safety hazard for the plumber when he comes to clean that drain.
Use Proper Drain Maintenance
Lastly, keep in mind that the kitchen sink drain, no matter how good a housekeeper you are, will eventually get a layer of buildup that needs to be treated. If your sink drain has not gone too far, Yes! Plumbing can provide a solution with a special Bacterial product (harmless to humans and animals), that you place in the drain once a month. Consistent use will preclude any need for you to ever schedule the dreaded visit from the plumber. One caveat, though—this product is not a drain “opener”. It is a drain maintenance product which will restore your plumbing drain to like new condition over a period of months when used as directed. It can be used on all small drains in the house and will dispose of hair, grease and buildup. But it should never be used unless a drain that is clogged (or close to clogged) has been power rodded first. Call us for details anytime.
How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink
A clogged kitchen sink drain is usually a result of years and years of buildup. Below is a list of things you can try to unclog it.
Use a Plunger
Plunger. This is the least effective method. If it works, it’s only because your clog is very local to the sink vent. To use this method, fill both bowls on your sink close to full. Plunge through either side vigorously. If it unclogs, congratulations. You are one of the lucky ones. Start treating it with our Bacterial product immediately and you will likely never have to have a plumber rod it out professionally.
Use a Hand Rod
Hand rod. These small rods operated by hand usually have a 10 foot limit and are difficult to operate to achieve any effect. We suggest you do not waste your time or money.
Use an Air Gun
Air Gun. Provides a high-pressure blast of air to the drain in an attempt to push the clog down the line to a bigger drain and temporarily open the drain. Temporarily. It does not remove the buildup that caused the clog to form in the first place. The tools are also very expensive.
Yes! Plumbing does not utilize these tools due to the temporary nature of the fix. We like to offer permanent solutions.
Use a Power Rod
Power rod. For kitchen sink size drains, the power rod offers the best solution to getting the line cleaned out enough so that a drain maintenance product can be used foe the remaining life of the home to prevent costly rodding visits from the plumber. Power rods can be rented.
A warning here—power rods are not easy to use and it can take many hours of experience to master the techniques and fail of the equipment before you become proficient at it.
As always, Yes! Plumbing stands ready with live operators standing by 24/7 to schedule your service needs. Give us a call (708) 847-7045 when you need assistance.