Kitchen sink not draining quickly? Want to know how to clog a toilet? Before you call a plumber, try these helpful unblocking methods first.
First, check the trap
Before you invest in other tools, check the sink trap. It’s that little U-bend under the sink. As water flows down the pipes, the sink trap can fill up with hair, sludge, silt and scraps, slowing down the water flow.
Unscrew the trap (put a bucket underneath) and stick a wire coat hanger up the pipe and dig around. You may be able to dislodge the blockage from here.
Next, try a plunger
There are two basic types of plungers; the sink plunger (the most common one) and the toilet plunger (which has an extra flap that folds in at the end).
To use, set the plunger over the sink drain (or toilet), make sure a tight seal is formed, and push up and down in a rhythmic motion.
You may need to block the sink overflow hole (it’s the little hole just under the faucet) in order for the plunger to do its job.
Third, try some household kitchen items (baking soda, vinegar)
Next, you can try using some household chemicals to unclog your toilet or sink (these are ideal if you have sensitive skin, or have pets).
Baking soda and vinegar: You will need about 2 litres of boiling water, one cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Pour the baking soda down the drain followed by vinegar. Then, cover the for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour the boiling water down the drain. Depending on the severity of the clog, you may have to repeat these steps more than once.
Baking soda and salt: You will need 1/2 cup of table salt, boiling water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. To use this method, mix the salt and baking soda in a bowl and pour it down the drain. Let it set for 10 to 25 minutes, then pour the boiling water down the drain.
Sink still clogged? Try using stronger stuff such as Mr. Muscle Drain Declogger (Around RM13.50 from Tesco) or Clorox Liquid Plumr (Around RM15.50 from Tesco). Both products only work on sink pipes, not toilets.
With both products, remember to wear gloves, and avoid splashing any of it on other surfaces. Pour half the bottle (or the entire bottle) down the drain, wait 30 minutes, then flush with boiling water.
One last thing you can try is a plumbing snake, or drain snake. The simplest version is a thick bendable coil of wire that you stick down your pipes.
If you don’t have a plumbing snake (not many of us do), you can try a wire coat hanger, but it won’t reach very far. Straighten it and stick it down the sink to see if anything gets dislodged.
Ok, now you can call a plumber
After you have exhausted the options above, it may be time to call a plumber. Plumbers have specialised tools to diagnose the problem, whether if it’s a clogged toilet, clogged drain, or a clogged sink. They can also use a motorised plumbing snake that can reach very far along the pipe, and can be turned like a drill.
The blockage may be the result of something more serious, such as a collapsed pipe, or a problem at the septic tank itself. Get an expert to check it out!