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How to Fix a Stopped up Sink Drain

Drain Tools

Stopped up Drain

Each morning as you prepare for the day, you notice that your sink drain is draining slower and slower. There must be a clog. So you pour some drain opener in it and nothing happens.

Do you call a plumber or try to fix it yourself?

The plumbing under the bathroom sink is not that complicated in modern homes so you may want to try to fix it yourself rather than spending several hundred dollars on a plumber.

These instructions are for a plastic drain.

The first thing you will want to do is move all the junk out from under the sink. You do not need it in your way and you do not want any of it to get wet.

You will want a bucket to catch the drain water. Just in case the nuts are tight on the P-trap, you will also need a 2" set of adjustable pliers with at least 8" handles. And you should probably have a pair of rubber gloves.

Look under the cabinet and coming down from the sink is a pipe, called a tailpiece, that goes into what we call a P-trap. The P-trap is designed to hold water. This water keeps sewer gas from backing up into your home.

The P-Trap will have two nuts on it. These need to be loosened. Once loosened, the P-trap will come off. One of the nuts is attached to the P-trap. It will stay connected to the P-trap. The tailpiece nut will come off the P-trap so just slide it up the tail piece so it is out of the way.

Drain Assembly

Drawing of a drain assembly.

Drawing of a drain assembly.



Tail Piece Stopped Up

Now run some water into the sink. Does it flow freely? If so then the problem was in the P-trap.

If not, then it means the sink pipe may be clogged up.

This can happen as hair gets hung up on the pop up stopper assembly.

To clear this requires removal of the pop up stopper. This requires a bit of skill because you cannot see exactly what you are doing unless you happen to be really small and can fit under the sink. I have included a picture so you can see what the parts are.

With your hand, feel behind the tail piece and unscrew the pivot nut. Once the pivot nut is loose, pull out the rod with the pivot ball. At this point, the sink stopper can be pulled out and cleaned up.

Clean out any foreign materials that may be in the tail piece by pushing a toothbrush up and down in the tail piece. Once this is done, run some water into the sink. If it flows freely then the tail piece is cleaned out.

Now be careful because it will have water in it. And your drain may have some residual water in it. Pour this water into your bucket and check to see if the P-trap is clear. Take it outside and flush it out with water.

Sink Tools

How to Fix a Clogged Drain

Re-Assemble the P-trap

After all the pieces are clean, reassemble the pivot ball and secure with the pivot nut. Make sure the sink stopper is hooked to it by moving the pivot rod up and down. If the sink stopper moves up and down then the pivot rod is hooked up. If not, then try again to connect it.

Scroll to Continue

Next reassemble the P-trap. Once the P-trap is hooked back up, run some water in the sink. If it drains, then you have fixed the problem. But if the water is slowly draining then the problem is deeper in the drain.

There is no need to use glue or any kind of adhesive with the plastic fittings. Also the plastic nut fittings only need to be hand tightened.

Make sure the pivot nut and ball are seated properly. If not, then the drain will leak.

At this point you may want to call a plumber or run a snake in the drain. The snake breaks up the clog.

The snake can be bought at your local hardware store. You should not need one more than six feet in length. Snakes come in many sizes, some manual and some electric. You should not need one that costs more than $15. Anymore than this and you may want to call in a professional.

If the blockage is more than six feet into the drain pipe, you should probably get a plumber.

I hope this article is helpful to you. Good luck.

Thank you for visiting this page. We would like to hear your comments.

Johnd645 on June 20, 2014:

Keep working ,impressive job! beeegbbeeaec

David Schulze (author) from San Antonio, Texas on January 13, 2011:

Thank you for your kind words.

whitton on January 13, 2011:

Nice Hub. Great information on how to fix a stopped up drain. I like how you incorporated a video along with your article too.

om on November 07, 2009:

hi thank you very much for the helpful tip. I bought brand new house and was hesitant to call the plumber. I called him once for draining my bathtub and he charged me $200. Thanks to you I was able to clean up my clog in my bathroom sink and happy about my work. Thank you once again.

lyricsingray on September 15, 2009:

Now this one I'm keeping :-) Thanks

iluvluvluvlucy from San Antonio on September 13, 2009:


This is a wonderful hub on how to fix a stopped-up sink. I am quite impressed that you took the time to film it as well. Your helper was great. Thank you for such a useful hub!

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