How to unblock a sink or basin

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Ugh! The horrible task of unblocking a sink or basin is that kind of nasty bathroom job that we’d all rather avoid – but we all end up having to tackle it sooner or later.

If you’d appreciate a little advice on how to handle it, then watch this helpful video from Screwfix and Collins DIY:

It explains what causes sink blockages, what tools and products will help shift them, how to use a plunger to the greatest effect (this is demonstrated – don’t forget to block the overflow) and how to find your way around the maze of pipes underneath your sink or basin.

Learn how to identify P-traps and bottle traps and open them up – and don’t forget the all-important bucket, unless you fancy rapidly deploying a mop as part of your sink-unblocking chore.

We’ve always found that sink unblocking fluid, which you can get from supermarkets or DIY stores, works a treat by eating through the blockage (always read the instructions carefully before buying, to make sure it is a suitable solution for your problem). But if you have to get personally involved, rubber gloves are a really excellent idea.

Filling the sink or basin right to the very top and then letting out the plug can also sometimes create enough pressure in the pipes to shift an obstruction – but this is a bit of a risk, since you’ll have to dispose of all that water some other way if it doesn’t work.

Also, it might cause problems down the line if, for example, a partially-blocked drain suddenly receives a massive outflow or you end up having to empty the sink contents through the trap and into a bucket.

If nothing else works, then it’s time to pop to the DIY store (or along to a handy friend or relative) for a rodding kit – a set of flexible rods that screw together and can be forced along pipes and down drains. Make sure, however, that you buy the right width for the job.

If cleaning the trap, using strong drain cleaner or rodding don’t work, it’s time to call a plumber. Complications can sometimes ensue if you live in a communal building and the blockage is beyond your property – so make sure you explain the situation and get the co-operation of any neighbours involved.

Try to stop blockages occurring in the first place by keeping bathroom plugs clean, scraping kitchen plates before washing them and using the waste bin rather than washing inappropriate waste down the sink.

Bath traps are horribly prone to collecting masses of hair and soapy gunge, especially if there’s an over-bath shower, and a regular dose of drain fluid can also prevent blockages from building up.

You could even could consider taking the sink or bath trap off every six months or so and giving it a manual clean as a preventative measure if it is prone to leaks and blockages.

Good luck – and if you’ve got a great tip for clearing blockages, why not leave a comment and let us know?

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