Kitchen sink drain problems

Written by alicia howe
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Kitchen sink drain problems
Lots of food scraps end up in the kitchen sink, which can result in common drain problems. (kitchen sink image by jedphoto from Fotolia.com)

Kitchen sink drain problems usually arise when the drainpipe becomes clogged. If the water you run or pour into the sink won't entirely go down, or it goes down very slowly, your drainpipe is probably clogged. Kitchen drains often become clogged from large food scraps falling into the pipe when not stopped by a strainer, or from heavy liquids being poured into the pipe and getting stuck. Unclogging the drain is often a job you can do yourself, if you know what tools to use.

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Unclogging

If your drain is clogged, try using a plunger. The downward pressure forces the clog to break up, and the upward pressure causes the material that is causing the clog to resurface. You can then collect the material and toss it in the garbage. You can also try removing the trap underneath the sink and clearing out the area around it. If the clog persists, you should purchase a drain cleaning auger, which is a long, snakelike object that you can stick far into the pipes.

Location

Often, though the clog is affecting the kitchen sink drain, it is actually located elsewhere in the pipes. If the above solutions do not fix your drain problems, check the drainpipes for sagging areas. These pipes can usually be found in the basement. Straps are available to hang on the pipes to straighten them out and allow a regular flow of materials. If you don't find sagging, the problem might be somewhere else in your sewer system, and a plumber will need to assist you.

Expert Insight

This Old House recommends you attach a C-clamp on your dishwasher hose when plunging in order to keep the pressure on the sink drainpipe alone. When plunging, fill the sink partially with water if it isn't already. If the sink is a double sink, Lowes recommends stuffing a dishrag down one drain while you plunge the other drain. Push up and down vigorously, multiple times, before releasing the plunger from the drain. If you use a drain cleaning auger, you can stuff up to 18 inches of cable at a time into the pipe underneath the sink.

Chemical Cleaners

Tons of chemical drain cleaners are on the market and claim to clear up a clog immediately. However, according to Cole Hardware, the amount of sulphuric acid in these cleaners can pose a threat to you and your environment. The products can burn your skin, and it is dangerous to plunge after you use them, so if they don't work, there's not much you can do. The acid can also ruin your sink or other surfaces that it comes into contact with.

Prevention

To prevent drain problems in the future, always keep a strainer in your sink to catch large, solid items. Never pour heavy liquids down the drain, such as grease or anything heavier than water. If your sink contains a garbage disposal, allow water to run after you run the disposal, to make sure that all materials have moved out of the pipes and into the main sewer line. Every now and then, pour some boiling water into the sink, which breaks up material that has built up. If you notice the speed of the water draining slowing down, try dumping a quarter cup of baking soda down the drain before the boiling water.

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