We all have been there – you are cooking or cleaning up after a big meal, when you turn around and are confronted with a clogged drain in your kitchen sink. Don't panic yet, there are a few steps you can take to unclog the drain yourself.
Do not put the job off. Sure, plumbing problems are never pleasant, but waiting will not make it any better. In fact, the job will start growing in your mind until it seems impossible to confront. Take a deep breath, grab a few tools and get to work. Remember the sooner you start, the sooner you will be finished.
If your sink has a stopper or a strainer, this is the first place you can start unclogging. Often food and other items will collect around the strainer or stopper. If you have a strainer, remove the screws holding it place and pull out the strainer carefully with a screwdriver. Wash away anything that has collected there and clean out the top of the drain. If your sink has a stopper, remove it with your fingers or unscrew the pivot rod that is connected to the opener. When the stopper is out, clean it and wipe out the base of the drain opening.
When cleaning the strainer or stopper does not work, it's time to bring out the plunger. Before you start plunging the clogged drain, cover any drains in adjacent sinks or other overflow holes. If there is no water in the sink where the clog is, run about an inch or two in it. The water will help force out any obstruction and will give you a clear signal when the clog is gone. Try putting petroleum jelly on the base of the plunger before you start using it to create a tighter grip to the sink. After two or three minutes of plunging, stop and see how your progress is going. When the clog is gone, run hot water into the drain to make sure any residue is removed.
When all else fails call your local plumbers. They are trained to deal with clogged drains or pipes and can fix the problem quickly. Don't be shy about calling because of what seems like a small problem. Small problems that are left untreated or are treated incorrectly can turn into big problems very quickly.
Of course, prevention is the best way to keep your drains clear. Treating your sink well will keep you from fretting over a clogged drain. When cooking with grease, pour any excess into a can then throw the can in the trash. Grease and fat can collect on the sides of your pipes and will attract food. Eventually, enough food will get stuck to create a big clog. Too much grease can also cause a sewer blockage, which is a bigger plumbing problem! In the same vein, never pour coffee grinds down the drain. Use them in your compost pile or just throw them in the trash.
Use cold water when you grind food into a garbage disposal. This will flush the food particles down the pipe. Too little water means, just like with the grease, food will gather along the inside of your pipes and create an obstruction.
One last tip – pour a kettle of boiling water down your kitchen sink drain once a week. This will melt away small amounts of grease and food bits that may have stuck to your pipes.