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Plumbing Category: Drains and Traps


Sink drain is clogged.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Drain auger (plumber's snake)

  • Drill snake (drain snake attachment that is attached to a power drill)

  • Power drill

  • Rubber gloves

  • Spud wrench

  • Locking pliers / Channellock® pliers by Channellock, Inc.

  • Trash bag

  • Bucket

  • Sink cleaner, like Tilex® by The Clorox Company, or other detergents like Ajax® by Phoenix Brands, LLC.

  • Cloths/rags



Over the course of the use of your sink, you may find that your sink becomes clogged, causing water to even accumulate above the sink strainer.  With some effort, this annoying clog can be unclogged.

Caution: When dealing with drainage maintenance, such as snaking a drain, make sure you take precautions, including wearing rubber gloves; read all product manufacturer instructions.

Unclog your sink drain in a few steps, and here's how:

  1. First, remove the sink trap (i.e., the bottom, u-shaped pipe piece of the sink):  Set up a bucket underneath the sink trap, and then remove the cleanout plug, as may be applicable, by unscrewing such a plug from the bottom of the sink trap with locking pliers or Channellock® pliers.  Whether water flows freely from the opening of this removed plug depends on where the clog is at:  Water will flow freely into the bucket underneath if the clog is in the piping behind the wall and not in the immediate opening of the sink piping/trap.

Once the water drains to a stop after removing the cleanout plug, go ahead and take the last step of removing the sink trap:  With such pliers or a spud wrench, turn the coupling around both ends of the trap counterclockwise to loosen them to the point that the sink trap becomes free from the rest of the piping and is put to the side for the time being.

  1. With the sink trap removed, use a drain auger or drill snake (attached to a power drill) to remove the clog from the sink drain; follow the drain auger or drill snake manufacturer's instructions in snaking the drain uncovered by the removal of the sink trap until the clog is reached and removed; be careful to have a trash bag or bucket on hand to contain the mess as you retrieve and recoil your auger snake/plumber's snake and discard the clogging substance.

  2. Then, go ahead and screw the sink trap back into place, back attached to the rest of the piping of the sink, using either locking pliers, Channellock® pliers or a spud wrench to ensure that the couplings of the sink trap are properly tightened; of course, the cleanout plug should also already be screwed back into place at the bottom of the sink trap.

  3. To ensure that you maintain a clean, safe sink, after snaking the sink drain, clean the sink, using a sink cleaner and cloths/rags; read the sink cleaner manufacturer's instructions.

That's what it takes to unclog a sink drain.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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