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How to Unclog Your Bathroom Sink

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Bathroom > How to Unclog Your Bathroom Sink
How to Unclog Your Bathroom Sink

Bathroom sinks are more prone to clogging than other sinks and fixtures, thanks to a buildup of hair and soap scum that occurs during typical use. Thankfully, clearing a bathroom sink clog is one of the easier drain problems to handle, so it’s a good project to take on yourself. In many cases, these clogs can be cleared without any supplies, but if you need a little extra muscle it should only require a few common tools that are helpful to keep on hand.

Materials Skill Level Estimated Time
• Stiff wire, drain snare or snake Beginner 30 to 60 minutes
• Small cup plunger
• Channel lock or slip joint pliers
• Small bucket
• Rags or old towels

Repair Process

The steps below outline several techniques to clear a bathroom sink drain. Follow them in order to step up your attack as needed.

  1. 1. Remove the Stopper

    If your drain stopper does not come out of the drain easily, it may need to be disengaged from the pop-up drain assembly first. First, raise the stopper. From under the sink, look for a horizontal rod (the “pivot rod”) at the back of the drain pipe. Loosen nut that holds the pivot rod in position and pull the rod out to free the stopper so you can remove it.

  2. 2. Clean the Stopper

    Often, hair snagged on the drain stopper is the cause of a slow or stopped drain and a good cleaning is all that’s needed to get things running properly. If trapped water drained out of your sink as soon as you pulled the stopper and there is a tangled mess of hair attached to it, that is probably the case. Remove all the hair and wash the stopper to remove gunk and soap scum that will lead to another buildup, then reinsert and connect the stopper.

  3. 3. Use a Plunger

    If water remains in your sink after removing your stopper, the clog is lodged farther down the drain line and clearing it will require a little force. With the stopper still out, add enough water to the sink to cover the base of a small cup-style plunger. Place a rag in the overflow hole near the top of the sink to increase the pressure of the plunger and center the plunger cup over the drain. Grasp the plunger handle and push down firmly against the base of the sink several times to try to force the clog through.

  4. 4. Snake the Drain

    To remove stubborn hair, it may be necessary to clear it manually. This can be done easily from topside with a snare, drain snake, or even a coat hanger or stiff wire with a small hook bent into the end. Just insert your tool of choice into the drain opening as far as possible to snag trapped hair and pull it out through the sink.

  5. 5. Clean the Drain Trap

    If your snake cannot make it to or through an obstruction in the P-shaped drain trap under the sink, you may need to take apart the trap to clean it thoroughly. First, place a bucket or bowl under the trap and get a few towels or rags ready; the water trapped in the sink and drain will come out under the sink when you take the pipes apart. Use your pliers to loosen the nuts on each end of the trap, then pull it free and clear the contents. Reassemble the trap, turn on the water to test for proper draining and leaks, and tighten your connections if necessary.

  6. 6. Snake the Waste Line

    If the trap was clear, or if your clog persists after cleaning it out, the obstruction lies even further down the drain line in your home. To try clearing it, disassemble the trap as above and use a drain snake to try clearing clogs in the waste line that connects with the main drain line under your home. If you have access to a drain cleanout, remove the cap and run the snake from that location as well.

Level of Difficulty

Clearing a clogged bathroom sink drain is a repair that most beginners can handle, and you may already have the tools and supplies you will need on hand. A little preventative maintenance can keep clogs from forming in the future, though, so clean the drain stopper periodically and keep a coat hanger or hair snare on hand to clean out the drain at the first sign of a slowdown.

Find a Pro

If you don’t have the time to mess with your drain, if the clog is serious or beyond the reach of your equipment, or if finding the source of the problem is just not a discovery you would like to make, a plumber or drain pro can make quick work of the job. Call on a trusted Pro to unclog your drain who is licensed, insured, and background-checked to get your drain running clear in no time!

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