From a Master Plumber: Plunge that Plugged Sink Before Calling a Plumber

With a Lowes or Home Depot springing up in almost every town, most of us are becoming do-it-yourself experts. The one home issue that most people won’t tackle themselves, however, is plumbing repair. The thought of water flooding the house frightens people, and with good reason. But wouldn’t it be nice to fix a plumbing problem on your own instead of calling a plumber?

One such problem that you can usually cure yourself is a plugged sink. Most people, when their sink backs up, use drain cleaning products such as Drain-O or Liquid Plumber. Occasionally, these products work; most of the time, you’ll still end up having to call a plumber.

Next time, before you call a plumber, get a good sink plunger. As a Master Plumber with over 20 years’ experience, I can tell you that at least three-quarters of all plugged sinks are cleared by plunging. You will need a sink plunger because a regular toilet plunger won’t give you the suction you’ll need. A good one can usually be purchased for $10 to $15.

The key to plunging a bathroom sink is to block the overflow hole, usually located at the top front of the sink bowl. Just stuff a small towel into the hole and hold it as you plunge. Otherwise, air will pass through the hole, negating the vacuum you are trying to form. Also, make sure there is a little water in the sink as you plunge.

For a double bowl kitchen sink, you may need someone to hold a plunger over one hole while you plunge the other. And a sink plunger works great on a backed-up shower or tub drain, too. On a tub drain, you may need to stuff a towel around the overflow assembly to block the air.

Oh, and don’t try to use that sink plunger in a toilet. It won’t work. Every home should have a separate toilet plunger and sink plunger.

Plunging a sink won’t work every time, and when it doesn’t, a licensed plumber will need to be called to clear the drain. But in my area, plumbers get paid between $75 and $100 an hour for a service call. Clearly, it is worth using a plunger to try and clear the drain yourself before making that call.

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