How to Unblock a Basin
There aren’t many more frustrating ordeals in a bathroom or kitchen than a blocked basin. Whether filling up a kitchen sink to wash those dishes or preparing the bathroom basin for a nightly shave, it’s inconvenient, to put it politely.
Before you hop onto your phone and search for your nearest emergency plumber, you could unblock that blockage yourself. Showers To You are on hand to provide a comprehensive guide to how you can unblock your sink/ basin yourself without breaking your bank or a sweat!
Why is there a blockage?
If your kitchen sink or basin is blocked, there are a few reasons why that water won’t drain away. These include:
- Leftover food
- Solidifying grease/ fat
- Soap Scum
- Foreign object
- Poor installation
- Bad weather
– Bits of leftover food always find their way into your sink. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable when draining a large pan, rinsing a mountain of plates or cleaning your chopping board. Even if you have scraped all you can into the bin and even if you have a strainer, over time, food will find a way into your drain.
– Meat fats, oils, butter and cooking fat start as a standard liquid. Once left to cool, they quickly turn into an unsightly solid. You may have seen someone pour meat fat into a separate bowl or container whilst you tuck into your roast dinner, and it becomes a solid clump of fat. This is what it does inside of your drain!
– Gradually, soap scum builds up in your sink or basin, regardless of the brand or cleaning product. This is similar to a shower tray, and how soap scum is unfortunately inevitable (see our guide on how to clean soap scum inside of your shower).
– Soap, toothpaste or a clump of hair can easily slip down your plughole. These are only noticeable once the sink/ basin is blocked. If a larger object has fallen, it will likely be caught in the basin trap located underneath your basin (more on this later).
– If you have recently moved into a new house or have had a new basin installed and it is constantly blocked, it can be down to the pipework or plumbing installed incorrectly. As the water flow is gravity dependent, the pipework is also gravity dependent, so if the pipework has been installed at an incorrect angle, a blockage will occur. If this is the case, we strongly advise contacting a professional plumber. At Showers to You, we have various designs of basins available, including wall-mounted and countertop basins.
– Heavy rainfall can cause drains outside to overflow and block, which will back up into your home and your neighbours. Thames Water explains who is responsible for clearing a blockage.
How can I unblock my basin?
Now that we have covered how a blockage can occur let’s run through some options to unblock your bathroom basin or kitchen sink.
You may need the following items:
- A plunger
- Kettle/ boiling water
- A sizeable old towel/ sheet
- Small cloth
- Rubber gloves
- Bicarbonate of Soda
- Alka Seltzer
- White Vinegar
- A Plumbers snake/ pipe cleaner
- Biological Washing Powder
- Adjustable spanner
- Plunger method: This is the easiest method on the list:
- Pop the rubber gloves on and remove the drain stopper/ pop-up waste
- Cover the overflow with the old cloth
- Firmly press the plunger’s suction cup over the plug hole and ensure the hole is completely covered
- Pull the plunger into the air and repeat until the water drains
- If this method doesn’t work, try one of the below.
- Bicarbonate of Soda method: Soda is often a staple of daily cleaning routines:
- Measure out 500ml of white vinegar into a jug or cup
- Spoon three teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda into the drain
- Gently pour the vinegar down the drain after the soda.
- Leave for five minutes to allow the reaction to occur.
- Simultaneously, boil a whole kettle of water.
- Once boiled, flush the blockage away with the water.
- Repeat if necessary
- Washing Powder method: This method is very similar to the Bicarbonate of Soda method above:
- Firstly, boil a whole kettle of water.
- Spoon three teaspoons of biological washing powder into the drain
- Immediately flush the powder with boiling water.
- Repeat if necessary
- Check the Waste Trap: If none of the methods work, check the U-Bend/ trap:
- Turn off the water at the mains and clear the underneath of the sink/ basin.
- Lay an old towel/ sheet down to catch any water that drips from underneath the area
- With the adjustable spanner, carefully loosen the fittings on the waste trap. Keep all parts together (e.g., seals or delicate washers)
- Once the trap is removed, clear the debris away and reassemble (remember to test for any leaks)
- Turn the water back on.
- Bleach and water method: Everyday items can come in handy with this one:
- To ensure safety when dealing with bleach, we strongly recommend wearing gloves and being careful not to inhale fumes/ rub your eyes.
- Measure 250ml of bleach
- Boil a whole kettle of water
- Pour the bleach down the drain.
- Immediately after, slowly pour the water to flush the bleach.
- Repeat if required
- Alka Seltzer method: This one is slightly obscure, but trust us with this to unblock your basin:
- Measure 500ml of white vinegar
- Place two Alka Seltzer tablets down the plug hole.
- Pour the vinegar over the tablets.
- Leave for approximately five minutes.
- During this time, boil a whole kettle of water.
- Slowly pour the water into the blockage and on top of the vinegar and tablets.
- Repeat if required
- Plumbers Snake: Whilst this tool isn’t an everyday household item, it can certainly help with that unsightly blockage:
- Insert the snake straight into the hole
- The snake’s end is a small part resembling a corkscrew. This breaks down the blockage.
- If you do not wish to insert straight into the plug hole, repeat method four and insert the snake straight into the pipes from underneath the sink/ basin
- The snake will either break down the debris or pull it out.
What if my outside drain is blocked?
We strongly urge anyone to contact a local professional to inspect the outside drain. A professional may use a jet or a rod to clear the blockage. A guide by Checkatrade has broken down the average cost of a call out and repair, with prices ranging from £60 to £400.
How can I prevent a blockage?
It always helps to identify the cause of a blockage. We advise being more careful when draining pans, scraping dishes thoroughly and consistently placing any leftover oil or meat fat into a separate container and discarding them into the bin once cooled down. Basic maintenance will help unblock the drain and tackle smaller blockages.
If you suspect the blockage is caused by soap scum, clean the basin after every use, or it could be time to change to a different brand entirely. If none of these methods works, it could be time to call a professional plumber.
Check out our full range of bathroom basins and kitchen sinks online today! Alternatively, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us via email ([email protected]), online contact form or phone (01472 242159).