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Slow draining sinks and clogged pipes can spell disaster!

Updated on January 8, 2015
Clogged sink.
Clogged sink. | Source

Prevent Clogs Before They Become A Major Problem

Many of us have had a slow draining sink at one time or another in our homes and many of us usually don’t do anything about it until it’s completely stopped up. In this article I’m going to tell you why that is not such a good idea, and what you can do.

Clogged or slow draining pipes usually occur over time, where you have a buildup of grime, hair, food particles, and whatever else can be washed down the drain during normal use. This buildup naturally occurs in all drains, and eventually you or someone else is going to have to unclog it. When you first notice your sink is beginning to drain slowly, is when you should act for a couple reasons:

First, the longer you wait to take care of the problem the worse it will get, and the harder it will be to unclog.

Second and more importantly, slow draining pipes and clogs can lead to other more serious property damage related issues.

Leaking Drain
Leaking Drain | Source

Places Where The Water Damage Can Occur

When drain pipes start getting backed up with water, it increases the risk that you will have a leak, because water follows the path of least resistance, and when your drain isn’t working properly that water is going to try to find a way out one way or another.

One of the most common areas you are likely to find a leak, (even if it’s a very slow one) is under the sinks in your bathroom and kitchen. The reason it is relatively easy for the drain connected to your bathroom or kitchen sink to leak is because they are held together by compression fittings. These fittings are sometimes just hand tightened and work fine when the pipes are maintained properly, but can leak when clogged or backed up because they are not designed to be under pressure.

Sometimes a very slow leak can be just as damaging and costly as a burst pipe or flood, because unlike the latter, a slow leak can go unnoticed for days, even months! The type of damage associated with slow leaks under a bathroom or kitchen sink are water and mold damage to cabinetry. Open the cabinet under your sink, and if you smell a kind of musty odor, that is caused from excess moisture and possible mold growth. Go in for a closer inspection and look at the wood underneath your sink, most cabinets today are made of particle board, or medium density fiberboard. When exposed to water they soak it up like a sponge, if this has happened, parts of the cabinet wood will usually look discolored and swell up slightly, losing its original shape. After inspecting the area under your sink, if you notice any water damage similar to what I have described above, I recommend calling a restoration company that is IICRC and mold certified to come out and inspect the damage.

Mold Damage on Back of Cabinet
Mold Damage on Back of Cabinet | Source
Water Damage to Corner of Cabinet
Water Damage to Corner of Cabinet | Source

How to Unclog Your Drain

Hopefully you haven’t run into the above issue yet, and can be proactive to prevent any possible future damage. All you need to do is check under the sink, take a large pair of pliers or channel locks and make sure the fittings under your sink are tight, and ensure your sink is draining properly. If it is draining a bit slowly, here are a few secrets to unclog your drain:

1. You can use a plunger (make sure it’s clean) just like you would with a toilet, to loosen up gunk that is stuck to the inside walls of the drain.

2. You can use an old fashioned pipe cleaner, plumbing snake, or even a bent coat hanger to remove the debris.

3. If you are not a "do it yourselfer" just go to the store and buy one of the off the shelf corrosive chemical products like Liquid-Plumber or Drano.

Hope this information was helpful, remember it’s better to be proactive and save some money, than be stuck cleaning up a costly mess after the fact.


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    • profile image

      Jack2016 12 months ago

      I highly recommend DrainFX. I bought it online after hearing about in on the Gary Sullivan show. It's eco-friendly & reusuable.

    • TheInformed profile image

      TheInformed 6 years ago from Austin

      Another article with great info! I tried the technique with the plunger to unclog my slow draining sink and it worked like a charm. Keep it up, you know your stuff.