How To Unblock A Sink

Unblocking a sink
  • A plunger or pump-action unblocker
  • Saucepan or bucket
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Budget

A traditional plunger costs just a couple of pounds from a DIY store - pump-action sink unblocker that uses compressed air costs from £5, also from DIY stores.

Time

Five to 10 minutes.

Skill

You need no DIY experience to do this job.

Block The Overflow

Step One: Block The Overflow

If water is draining slowly from a shower, bath or sink, the cause is often hair trapped in the plug hole or trap. Clean regularly and there should be no need to use caustic chemical treatments.

Once you've checked that this isn't the problem, block the overflow holes at the top of the sink with damp kitchen paper or a rag so that the jet of air and water is forced through the system and not back out of the overflow. There should be enough water in the sink to cover the rubber part of the plunger.

Pump The Plunger And Rinse

Step Two: Pump The Plunger And Rinse

Place the plunger over the plug hole and push up and down quickly to force a jet of water through the waste pipes to dislodge the blockage. Take out the plunger and check the water drains away quickly. Run the taps for several minutes to flush away any debris and unblock the overflow holes

Bail Out The Sink

Step Three: Bail Out The Sink

If the blockage hasn't been shifted, bail out as much water as possible and place a bucket under the plastic trap directly under the sink. Unscrew the plastic collars at both ends of the trap (a tea towel wrapped around the plastic will help give more grip).

 Remove & Clean The Trap

Step Four: Remove & Clean The Trap

Remove the trap and clean. There may also be hair or debris trapped in the plug hole so clean this at the same time. Re-fit and run the taps to check the blockage is clear.

Check The Drains And Waste Pipes

Step Five: Check The Drains And Waste Pipes

If there is still a problem, check if the drain is blocked by lifting the nearest inspection cover to the sink. You will need a set of drain rods to unblock the drain. If the problem is in the waste pipes inside the house, try unscrewing the trap and using a piece of flexible wire or a toilet auger to clear it.

Illustrations: Ed Roberts

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