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Sink Backing Up —And What to Do About It

kitchen sink drain backing up
If you have problems with your sink backing up, there might be several factors at play. Thankfully, most clogged sinks can be resolved without professional assistance. Before you proceed to tackle your sink, you may want to learn why this happens and how you can best prevent it.

Why Is Your Sink Backing Up?

If you dispose of a lot of items down your sink, they may clump together and clog your drain or P-trap. Additionally, your sink may not be the problem itself. Your garbage disposal might be backed up and cause your sink to overflow as a result. Also, your house might have more pipes connected to the sink drain than you realize. Washing machines are commonly connected directly to sink pipes. If you notice your sink backing up when the washing machine is draining, for example, the clog is probably near the washing machine line.
Your dishwasher is also likely connected to the same drain as your sink. As such, if your dishwasher is clogged it might be backing up water to your sink. Check the output pipe of your dishwasher for any visible obstructions or kinks in the line.
Luckily, your sink can usually be unclogged quite easily without having to turn to dangerous chemicals or professional plumbers.

How to Unclog Your Sink

Check the Garbage Disposal

The first thing you should do if you have a garbage disposal is to check and see if it’s clogged. Turn on the unit to try and unclog it. If it’s overheated, flip the switch found on the side of the garbage disposal unit.

Dissolve the clog

The first thing you should try is to dissolve the clog that is causing your sink to back up. You can try merely flushing boiling water through the drain and give gravity a hand in dislodging the clog.
You can add baking soda, salt, or vinegar to your boiling water to improve the chances of unclogging the drain without mechanical help.
Before you try to dissolve the clog, remove as much of the backed-up water as possible. If you want to use baking soda, we recommend pouring it directly down the drain followed by an equal amount of vinegar. Wait for 15 minutes as the solution bubbles, then run hot water down the sink. If you notice an improvement, try again.

Use a Plunger

Oftentimes, a simple plunger will do the trick. If you have a double sink, you’ll need to close off the other drain or plug it to ensure a proper seal. Put the plunger securely over the entire drain and plunge vigorously. This should clear the clog from the drain (at least the easier ones). You can then remove the plunger and run hot water through the drain to flush it out.

Check the P-Trap

The P-trap is the curved part of the sink’s drain pipe, usually found in your sink cabinet. It’d be best if you first stick a bucket under the P-trap to catch any leaking water or debris that comes out. After that, all you have to do is disassemble the P-trap from the drain pipe and clear it of clogs.
With your P-trap disassembled, you can also ensure that the clog is not before the P-trap by inserting a stick up the sink pipe to resolve any clogs there.

Use a Plumber’s Snake or a Coat Hanger

If you’ve disassembled your P-trap and can’t find a clog there, chances are it’s further down the drain pipe. You can use a plumber’s snake to break up the clog in the system. If you don’t have a drain snake or auger available, you can straighten a wire coat hanger for a makeshift snake. Insert what you have into the drain pipe and turn it gently, just be careful not to scratch the pipe with the wire.

Call a Professional

If you still can’t reach the clog, you’ll need to call a professional plumber. While a plunger might help with easier clogs, you might need to order a professional snaking or hydro-jet cleaning to clear out the drainpipes properly.
MT Drains & Plumbing offers emergency drain services in Vaughan and the surrounding areas. As soon as possible, we’ll come to your house, give you a free estimate, and begin unclogging your sink as soon as we have your approval. We guarantee a mess-free job, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning up afterwards.
If your sink is backed up because of underlying issues in your pipes elsewhere, we can run diagnostics on your entire pipe system and make sure it’s up to date.

How to Avoid Sink Clogs

Now that your sink is working correctly, you should try to prevent future clogs. The most important measure is to not dispose of items that might clog up your sink again. These include:
  • Grease, fat, and oil
  • Coffee grounds
  • Meat
  • Eggs or egg shells
  • Pasta, bread, etc.
  • Gum
  • Paint
  • Paper
Instead of flushing these down the drain, you should put them in old cans or bottles to throw away once they’re full. You can affix a drain cover to trap larger food items and prevent them from going down the sink. Coffee grounds can be added to your composting waste instead if you’re composting.
You should also keep your garbage disposal clean and refrain from putting more than a cup at a time into it.
A good habit that you might want to pick up is periodically flushing small amounts of baking soda and vinegar down your sink to loosen up smaller clogs before they cause a backup.

When in Doubt, Call a Professional

Most of the time, your sink backing up can be resolved by DIY methods as shown above. Preventative measures can also help reduce the number of clogs in your sink. However, if you run into a clog you can’t solve, it’s best to contact a professional plumber instead of hacking it and making a mess in your kitchen. MT Drains & Plumbing covers all areas in and around Vaughan, ON, to give you a timely and efficient drain cleaning service at your convenience. We’re available 24/7 so don’t hesitate to call us at (905)761-5551 and get your drain unclogged.


Paul S

Paul has more then 20 years in basement waterproofing and plumbing projects experience. Looking for an advice from an expert plumber? Make sure to read Paul's articles about residential waterproofing and plumbing projects in Toronto.

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