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The topic for this feature is about that most basic of home repairs, clearing a blocked drain in either the kitchen or bathroom.
I think that at some time or another all of us have experienced the disgusting sight of food debris floating in greasy water because the sink out let is blocked. The fact that the water in the sink is greasy may be a part of the problem as to why the sink is blocked; however we shall discuss that later!
The first job is to clear the sink of the majority of its contents, particularly the solids; the best way to do this is by using a large kitchen sieve or colander. Scoop the contents into a bucket for disposal with your solid wastes; perhaps lining the bucket with an old plastic supermarket bag could be useful.
Of course you will have somewhere in the house a rubber cup plunger either find it now or rush to the hardware store to buy one or borrow one from friends or family. Place the rubber cup of the plunger over the drain hole of the sink and pump plunger up and down. The idea is to create a vacuum to dislodge the blockage that has cause the problem. If you have been successful the water will drain out of the sink, if the sink stays full we must move on to the next stage which may require a couple of tools.
Make sure that the plug is firmly in place in the sink drain hole, then go under the sink and locate the ‘U’ bend of the waste pipe, place a bucket under this ‘U’ bend and undo the nut holding the bend to the main drain pipe. Use a piece of wire to hook out the material causing the blockage then reconnect the pipe and remove the sink plug. Once the sink has emptied, pour very hot water down the drain to get rid of any remaining matter.
Never ever use caustic soda to clean sink drains if grease is present! Caustic soda and animal fats combine to make soap! This will cause your drain to block very quickly.
If chemicals are preferred to unblock your drain then use a product such as Drano or check with your local hardware store for a similar product. Be careful when you purchase chemical cleaners as they can vary between those suitable for a toilet or sink. Read the labels or ask for assistance.
Blocked bathroom sink or shower drains can be treated in much the same way; however it is important to remember that the mechanical method using a plunger relies on a vacuum being created. If your bathroom sink has an overflow hole, make sure that this is blocked either with your hand or a flannel.
A blocked toilet can be cleared using either the plunger or chemical methods. Please remember however to wear rubber gloves and take the usual hygiene precautions. If after using these very simple methods you still have a blockage, it is probably wise to call a plumber.