You may be tempted to contact a local plumber when you have a kitchen drain clog with wastewater from dirty dishes, but before you go ahead and spend that money, you need to know that it is almost always rather easy to fix.
It usually takes only very little time, requiring the tools you likely already have available. You’ll need the following tools/equipment and materials to carry out this task:
- Drain plunger
- Plastic container
- Channel-type pliers
- Rags or paper towels
Kitchen Drain Clog: Try to Plunge First
First of all, use a rubber cup-type plunger to try clearing the drain. Use a plastic container to bail out water from the sink, leaving about 1-2 inches.
Have the cup of the plunger positioned over the drain opening and pump rapidly up and down severally. Quickly remove the plunger from the drain opening. This will likely dislodge anything clogging the drain.
If that happens, run water for a few minutes in order to flush whatever kitchen drain clog debris down the line. Otherwise, bail out and sponge as much water remaining in the sink, and move on to disassemble and clear out the drain trap.
Inspect the Trap Assembly
Position a bucket or some other container underneath the trap so as to collect water, and also have a rag and some paper towels available to mop up spills. Inspect the drain parts. To disassemble the assembly of the main drain, loosen the large nuts located at the pipe connections.
For kitchen sinks, this normally includes a trap, a trap arm, and a two-part waste piece (for sinks with two basins).
You’ll also find a discharge pipe coming from the garbage disposal, or a vertical pipe (known as a tailpiece) dropping from the sink basins; these normally shouldn’t be removed.
Release the Drain Trap
This is simply the pipe piece shaped as a “J” at the drain assembly lowest point. Due to the trap’s sharp bend, it is so far the most common area for the occurrence of drain clogs.
Unscrew the nuts at both ends of the trap. Channel-type pliers may be used if you’re unable to do it by hand. Completely unscrew the nuts, then slide each one upwards a bit on the pipe alongside its washer.
Take out the second nut, while using one hand to provide support to the trap from below so it doesn’t fall down. Waste and dirty water is accumulated in the trap. Handle it with care, and ensure you have a bucket to collect water under it.
Kitchen Drain Clog: Take Out the Trap
Drag the trap straight downwards, then turn it upside down to empty its contents. If you completely emptied the sink, there should be less mess or water falling when the trap is being removed; if not, there may be quite a lot.
Carefully inspect the trap for debris. You can clean it using a small utility brush or a toothbrush, or have it flushed with water in another sink.
If a visible clog is found here, and the other parts of the drain appear to be clear, then it’s possible you’ve found the problem and can now begin reassembling the trap. If not, then proceed with the disassembly.
Take Out the Trap Arm
This is the level pipe having a curved end connecting the branch drain that is in the wall. A clog is also likely to be found here. Unscrew the slip nut which holds the trap arm fast to the branch drain.
Remove the trap arm and inspect it for any clogs, and take out any available debris. If you find a visible kitchen drain clog here, then you need not look any further.
Kitchen Drain Clog: Take Out the Two-Part Waste
This is the level pipe which links the garbage disposal or two sink basins to the drain trap. Unscrew the two slip nuts attached to it and then take out the pipe. Inspect it properly for clogs and take out any available debris.
If a clog isn’t found in any of these areas, then it’s possible that you clog lies in the branch drain located behind the wall. This may be a bit more serious, although you may do it yourself with the help of a drain snake.
Reassemble the Drain
After all parts have been inspected and clogs removed, you can now begin to reassemble the drain in reverse order. Use hands to tighten all slip nuts, and then further tighten them using pliers (up to 1/8 of a turn).
Run the water to confirm the drain is clear and working properly. Allow plenty of water to flow through it and check for leaks. If any leaks are noticed at the parts, tighten the joint slightly more using pliers for a further 1/8 turn.
There’s no pressure in drain pipes, so the slip nuts don’t necessarily have to be so tightened.
Fill up the sink with water with the stopper in place. Release the stopper and observe underneath the sink for any leaks at the drain joints.
If there’s still a kitchen drain clog after you have worked on the drain trap, then you have a much deeper problem which may require the use of a drain snake. Otherwise, you’ll need to contact a plumber.
Ensure that the slip nuts are not over-tightened, as they consist of cheap plastic which may crack easily with the use of the pliers.