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If your sink is full of dirty water and beginning to develop a rancid, off-putting smell then you need this invaluable advice on how to unblock a sink full of water without the help of a plumber. The gunk that amasses often results from a blockage in the “U-bend” of the pipe. At other times a build-up of grease can build layers which over time cause your drainage to block up. Depending on the blockage, you will find success with one of the following methods which we have listed.

Before You Start

Hackler Plumbing advise "Be sure that you are prepared for the task ahead when you wish to begin unblocking your blocked sink. The process can be a rather messy business so be sure that you have got yourself some gloves, old clothing and protective glasses handy. A bowl or bucket is also essential, as is a plunger. Baking soda and white vinegar is an excellent natural fix for a blocked sink, so it would be best to have an ample amount of both at your disposal. Lemon juice and baking soda work equally well while also getting rid of smells, however this is the more expensive fix out of the two."

Clearing the Water and Finding the Problem

Start off by leaving the water in the sink for the time being. The downward pressure will help you locate the source of the problem. If the water is scalding hot or uncomfortable, then be sure to add some cold water or wear rubber gloves. Put one hand over the overflow, or use a damp cloth. This will prevent the escape of air and help give you the pressure that you need for suction.

Remove the Drain Cover & Try a Plunger

The majority of drain covers can be unscrewed by turning them to the left. Attempt to unscrew your drain cover, clearing away any visible dirt and grime. Before plunging, ensure that the plughole is completely covered in water. This gives you an airtight seal. With the overflow sealed using your hand or a cloth, attempt plunging the blockage away. If the blockage simply won’t go away, this means that there is a build-up of grime or dirt within the trap or your pipes. The easiest way to get rid of this is to use some baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice.

Baking Soda & Vinegar / Lemon Juice

Get yourself half a cup of baking soda ready. Scoop out as much water from the blocked sink as possible before pouring as much of the baking soda as you can down the drain. Slowly pour up to half a cup of either white vinegar or lemon juice down the drain, giving the baking soda some time to fizz before adding the rest of the liquid. After five to ten minutes flush the baking soda mix away with rapidly boiling water. Once the last of the baking soda has drained, attempt plunging your sink again to see if this clears the blockage. If your sink is still clogged, it is time to resort to soda crystals.

Soda Crystals

Soda crystals work extremely well at clearing blockages which result from a grease build-up. Simply dissolve up to half a packet of soda crystals in boiling water and pour this down your drain before once again plunging your sink. Whenever you plunge, ensure that the overflow hole is completely covered and your plunger is submerged in water. At times your blockage will be too stubborn to clear away using conventional methods. It is then that you need to begin checking your trap to see if it is the source of your hassles. Hair and other solids are often far too tough to be dissolved with a mild acid or baking soda reaction. Most of the time they get stuck in your trap or “U-bend”.

Try a Coat Hanger

If you wish to first try to push through any blockages, rather than removing the “U-bend”, straighten a coat hanger and give it a try. With the drain cover removed, make a small hook in your straightened coat hanger (on the end) and push it down your drain. Attempt to pull any debris that may be blocking the sink up through the drain. It is best to use a coat hanger that is made of a flexible type of wire, rather than something rigid. You will be trying to reach the inside of the “U-bend” in your attempt to clear the blockage. If this brings you no joy, then it’s time to get your hands dirty.

Clearing Blockages in the “U-bend”

Before loosening your ”U-bend”, located beneath your sink, place a bucket or large container beneath to catch any water that may spill. Loosen the screw that joins the “U-bend” to the bottom of your sink by means of a plastic fitting. As soon as you begin to see water dripping, allow the water to drip into the bucket or container before continuing. When there is no water left draining, carefully remove the “U-bend” and clean out anything that may be causing a block. Once the bend is clean, refit and relish in the fact that you’ve just unblocked your own sink.

If your efforts fail, then you will need to call a local emergency plumber near you.

Final Considerations

Most people prefer not having to get under the sink when a blockage occurs. The vinegar / lemon juice and baking soda fix can be reapplied a few times before throwing in the towel. At times a blockage will only loosen after a few rinses with bicarb. If you do not own a plunger, a plastic packet and your hand will work almost as well. Others have found success with a flat plastic object, such as a spatula, within a plastic packet. Simply work it up and down to create suction in a similar manner to a plunger. If your blocked sink is emitting undesirable odours, then it would be best to unblock it with lemon juice rather than vinegar. Lemon juice has the same effect but will leave a pleasant smell and get rid of the source of the smells for good.