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How to Fix a Slow Draining Sink

How to Fix a Slow Draining Sink

Dealing with a slow draining sink may be frustrating, but it’s a fairly common problem that homeowners face from time to time. Clearing the drain, so the water flows freely again is the first step. However, it may be necessary to take further action to fix a slow draining sink if the problem continues.

Most Common Causes of Slow Draining Sinks

The most common culprit behind a slow draining sink is a clog that obstructs the flow of water through the pipes. This can happen over time or suddenly, depending on what’s blocking the plumbing. In most cases, you’ll find one — or more — of the following in the pipes:

  • Dirt: Dirt and debris can get into the plumbing system if you rinse off gardening tools or shoes in the sink or tub.
  • Food: Even if you have a garbage disposal, food rinsed off dishes can clog the pipes under the sink.
  • Grease: Grease, including butter, fat, and cooking oil, can build up in the pipes over time.
  • Hair: Hair knots up and can attach to grease and soap scum that has built up along the walls of the pipes.
  • Objects: An object small enough to slide through the drain, like a toy or jewelry, can quickly clog a pipe.
  • Tree roots: Tree roots can crack the pipes underground and grow into them, slowing the flow of water through the plumbing system.
  • Soap scum and shaving cream: Both soap scum and shaving cream can build up in the pipes, especially when they collect and gather hair.

Clogs aren’t the only cause of a slow drain. Improperly installed plumbing, including the pipes and drains, can affect the way a sink drains. The system needs the right balance of air and gravity working together to keep the water moving through the pipes. This requires adequate pipes and ventilation.

How to Prevent a Slow Drain

The best way to prevent a slow drain is to keep out items that can block it. Scrape food and scraps (including egg shells) into the trash can. Clean hairbrushes over the trash can instead of the sink. Hose off dirt-caked items outdoors. Pour grease into a sealed container instead of down the drain.

Install a New Drain

A drain is an important line of defense against clogs because its primary job is to keep unwanted items out of the wastewater. Drains come in a variety of styles, including pop-up, lift and turn, and grid. Understanding the different types of drains and how they work can be helpful when you’re trying to figure out why a sink keeps backing up.

  • Chain and stopper: This simple drain has a flexible plastic stopper that slides into the drain to prevent water from going down the drain. A chain and stopper is easy to use, but debris that’s big enough to fit through the drain can pass through it with the wastewater.
  • Grid: Also called a grid strainer drain, this type of drain has a grid that collects hair and pieces of debris larger than the holes in the drain. This helps protect the plumbing from items that could otherwise go down the drain and clog the pipes.
  • Lift and turn: The name of a lift and turn drain describes how it works: Turn it in one direction to open it and the other direction to close it. These drains typically lift enough to let water drain from the sink without letting chunks of debris through. Soap scum can build up on the openings in the drain and cause a slow down.
  • Pop-up: To open a pop-up drain, tap the top of the drain. Press down on it to close the drain. Like a lift-and-turn drain, an open pop-up drain is wide enough to let the water run t