How to Clean Out Your Sink Drain
Other than a renovation, there are really only two reasons that people try to take apart their sink drains. Sometimes, you’re standing over the sink getting ready, and drop something important, (like jewelry), and it slips away down the hole to who-knows-where. Other times, your sink drain fills up with accumulated debris, and gradually drains slower and slower, until you’re so fed up that it’s worth it to do something about it.
Whatever your motivation, the procedure is the same. You’re going to have to open up that dark pipe. And then, you’ve got to get it back together. It’s not as daunting as it seems though.
Start by clearing out everything under your cabinet that you don’t want to have skanky water dumped all over. If you’ve got a bucket, or a disposable foil tray, that you can stick right under the pipes, that will help contain the mess. Just don’t use anything that you’re planning to eat out of later. Trust me, you’re never going to be able to wash it enough to want to eat off it after drainpipe sludge has been in it.
Look under your sink for your U-pipe. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a section of pipe that’s shaped like the letter U. One side of the U will be coming straight down from your sink drain. There will be two thick areas, that look like a collar around the pipe. These are where two sections of pipe are connect together. One of the collars will probably be higher than the other. (The one directly under the drain will be the higher one.)
You’re going to twist those collars, so that they loosen up and let you remove that U-shaped section of pipe. You might want to be wearing gloves for this part, because once that section comes off, it’s going to spill out the icky water/sludge.
Tap that pipe section against the bottom of the pan you put under to catch the mess. You want to get all the gunk out of it. What’s in there, you want to know? Built up sediment from your water supply, chunks of food that got dislodged while you were brushing your teeth, loose hair that fell in when you brushed your hair in front of the sink, the spider you washed down the drain that got stuck, and who knows what else.
If there’s stuff caked onto the sides of the inside of that pipe, you can use a bottle brush, or something similar to clean it out. If you got interested in cleaning your drain because you lost something, look through the mess you cleaned out, and you should find it in there. Gravity traps heavier items, (such as dropped wedding bands), in the bottom of that U-pipe, giving you a chance to retrieve them this way.
As long as you’ve got the U-pipe off, look into the pipes that it connects to on either side. Is there build-up in there? If so, go ahead and scrape it out, too.
Once you’ve got all those pipes cleaned out, just put the U-pipe back in place and re-tighten those two collars. Dispose of the sludge you cleaned out, and put all your stuff back under the counter.
Cleaning out those pipes periodically will keep your drains running faster, and may keep you from getting a serious clog; the kind that you have to call a repairman about. A little preventative maintenance can save you from a costly repair later.
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