Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How to unclog your kitchen sink drain when you have a garbage disposal (the easy way)

The Plunger:  An Under-Rated Magical Device

The easiest way to unblock your kitchen sink drain is with a Plunger.  There are some steps you need to follow to make sure the plunger is is pushing and more importantly PULLING the water next to the blockage in the drain pipe to dislodge it.

If you have a disposal installed under your sink with a dishwasher connection, you will have to clamp the rubber part of the dishwasher hose that empties into the disposal:

  • The hose that runs from my dishwasher (and probably yours) to the disposal, is a plastic translucent corrugated type that ends in a rubber fitting that is attached to the disposal.
  • Clamp the rubber in the area between the corrugated plastic and the disposal (squeeze it to find the soft part).  This ensures the water you plunge will have all its force aimed only at the clog.
  •  This will also keep the plunged water from forcing into your dishwasher - if too much water is forced into your dishwasher, it will overflow onto your floor and create a nice mess for you.
If you have a double sink, put the drain stopper in the sink without a disposal, and have someone hold it tight while you use both hands to plunge.

Run hot water in the disposal sink until the disposal fills up and you have about three inches of water in the bottom of your sink.

***See Note below before proceeding.***

DO NOT use a regular plunger:  
there is not enough volume in it to maximize the water force, it is harder to
Bulb Type Plunger
keep a seal over the drain, and it may not dislodge the clog (I found this out the hard way after many more steps including unsuccessful snaking attempts and some pipe modifications over the course of 2 days).  GET A LARGE bulb type plunger.

The bulb type Plunger fits nicely into and over your sink drain to seal it tightly...you can feel the greater force it puts into the water.
  • Fit the plunger into your sink drain and plunge up and down without breaking the seal.  You should feel (and hear) the water moving in the drain pipe.  Continue for 10 to 15 plunges.
  • After the last downward plunge, pull the plunger away from the drain (with some force) to break the seal, and lift it away from the drain.
  • The last pull will lift the water out of the pipe and away from the clog, and then slam the water back into the clog breaking it free (I had to do this only once <The Magic> to clear the pipe, and my clog was stubborn...the snake would not even work).  The sink should drain quickly down through the disposal.
While you are setting up the sink for plunging, boil a full kettle of water.  After the clog is dislodged, pour the boiling water down the drain with the disposal and then follow up with hot water from the faucet for 5 minutes to break up any remaining part of the blockage and melt any grease, etc...

You are now the HERO of the day...take all the compliments offered to you...

If you fixed the drain in your own house, set aside the $300 saved on the plumbing fee and service call towards a nice meal on your next vacation.