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Clogged Sink Drain Anyone?

Updated on August 29, 2011

Clogged Sink Drain Anyone?

We’ve all had, or at least most of us have had a sink drain that gets full of matter and won’t let the water out with dispatch. You wash your hands and hug the faucet to keep from getting them dirty again in the building puddle of water that defies gravity.

It doesn’t seem to take much to clog the drain…maybe just one hair trimming, even when all the loose hair is carefully wiped up! Or, one can accidentally lose a small piece of soap down the hatch. Somehow, even dirty water manages to tangle with hair, soap, and whatever to form a slug like plug.

As you watch the water going out slower and slower from day to day, you first try to ignore the problem, but of course it doesn’t go away. About then you wish you had a wire snake to coil down the hole. There don’t seem to be too many of them around anymore.

Some folk recommend a plunger (plumber’s helper) be used. The sink needs to have water in it. Place the suction cup over the outlet and pump it up and down to loosen the clogged matter and push it on through.

If that doesn’t work, they say another way is to pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain followed by ½ cup of vinegar, poured slowly. It might take a couple of tries.

Of course, there is the wire snake (auger) to try. About this time, your clothes are grubby, hair is disheveled, face is hot, and you’re ready to throw the whole sink into the garbage, only it won’t fit.

There’s still one surefire way to try to get that pesky drain to drain….take it apart and pull out the muck by hand. It’s best to find someone who knows how to undo the drain, or you might find the frustration overwhelming.

Fortunately, I have a friend who is willing to do the “take it apart” for me. In trying to explain how it is done, he said it is done by unscrewing the retainer, pulling the shaft out, and cleaning out the ball that is on the end of the shaft. Seeing my glazed eyes, he drew a beautiful picture of the retainer and the shaft and ball, asking, “Now do you understand how it works?” I smiled sweetly.

Realizing he had gotten nowhere, he took me into the bathroom to show me. (Good teaching techniques—ears, eyes, hands on) Grabbing my camera, I meekly followed. Surprisingly, it was rather simple to unscrew the nut, pull out the shaft, and clean the ball. “It ‘s a little tricky,” he explained, “to get the shaft back in the pipe, because of it’s position.” Here are some pictures demonstrating the procedure:

Beginning scene.
Beginning scene.
Unscrewing the valve.
Unscrewing the valve.
Pulling the ball out to clean.
Pulling the ball out to clean.
Screwing the valve back in.
Screwing the valve back in.

You know, I do believe I could clean the drain myself next time!

My chemist friend’s final advice was, “If all else fails, one could use caustic soda, but it is dangerous.One would need to wear rubber gloves.It’s hard to get off your skin, because it is very reactive to protein.”

My response…”No thank you; I’m sure the pipe thing will do it. Otherwise I'll try Drano."


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    • lifeandhealth profile imageAUTHOR

      Clara Mae Watrous 

      7 years ago from Washington State

      Thank you for the comment, Simone. I totally agree on the chemicals--even road traffic exhaust and gasoline at the pump get to me. Guess I'm super sensitive to such.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Yeah, cleaning out the actual pipe seems like a much more sound solution than working with chemicals at all, so far as I'm concerned. Great Hub!

    • techygran profile image


      7 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Wow, didn't know that clearing the drain could be so funny! This is a very useful and well-written hub and I will use it myself and refer my plumbing-aversive friends to this post... good work! (the photos are great)


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