Unclogging a Bathroom Sink Using a Snake

Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated September 27, 2019)

Bathroom sinks are typically the most problematic part of household plumbing since we tend to have so much sludge that gets caught in the trap. Just be sure that before starting your home plumbing job that you have the tools necessary to finish your chore. There are only four tools that you will need in order to properly accomplish this job: a bucket, a pair of adjustable pliers, a drain auger (or snake), and an old towel.

Before you can begin the job there are a few things you need to check out. For instance, do you have metal pipes or are they made from PVC? This is an extremely important thing to know because when the pipes are made from material like PVC you run the risk of potentially breaking them if you are not careful when attempting to remove the blockage. This should be readily ascertainable, since in most bathrooms you can see the pipes that lead from the sink fairly easily. Just look under the bowl, in that little cupboard that most bathrooms seem to have under the basin.

If you don't already have a drain auger you may want to consider whether you should rent or buy one. Considering the relatively low price of between $4.50 and $32.50 (depending on brand, type or model) it might be a good decision to purchase one for your own use. Oftentimes the cost of renting such hardware can be more expensive than purchasing it.

You are now ready to begin your project:

  1. Look under the sink and find the water shutoff valve. The valve is going to look something like what you use to turn your sprinklers on or off or like the valve under the toilet. The water needs to be turned off because if you don't then you are going to have a huge, nasty stinky mess on your hands. Since the point is to do less work than more, make sure it is off.
  2. Place your bucket under that bend in the sink's pipe. The bend in the pipe is what is commonly known as the trap, and it looks like it has a "J" or "U" shape. This is the area where the blockage typically forms because it is designed to keep things from coming back up the pipe.
  3. Use the adjustable pliers to loosen the nuts that are holding the trap in place at both ends. As you are loosening the pipe water and gunk is going to be coming out. Don't worry; this is supposed to happen and it is why you put that bucket under the pipe. Just let everything, including the pipe, fall into the bucket. This puts all the mess in one place which makes an easier time for clean up.
  4. Place the end of the snake into the pipe that goes into the wall, pushing it in as far as you can.
  5. Start turning the handle clockwise as you are feeding the snake into the hole. Keep feeding the snake into the wall until you have finally reached the blockage.
  6. Using a gentle but firm pressure push the snake through whatever is creating that blockage.
  7. After you have gotten through the clog, reverse the snake and pull the clog out so that it can fall into the bucket. As you are doing this, use the old towel and wipe off the snake as you go.

If you feed the snake into the wall and you don't meet with any clog, check that part of the pipe you previously removed (the trap). Just run the snake through this portion of the pipe, like when you checked the pipe in the wall. Once this has been done, just replace the trap, tighten the nuts that hold it in place, turn the water back on, and you are done.

Author Bio

Doris Donnerman

Doris is a jack of all trades, writing on a variety of topics. Her articles have helped enlighten and entertain thousands over the years. ...


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