A friend of ours asks about a kitchen sink that had been draining slowly for some time and now it is very clogged. It seems that they tried removing the p-trap under the sink already and found that it was free of obstructions. They then replaced the p-trap to find that the sink is now so clogged that they need to plunge it to get water to move.
In this case they did the right thing. Water was draining slowly and normally that means grease or buildup in the P-Trap or Elbow under the sink. Sinks are designed this way to catch clogs there before they enter into the system. The P-Trap does have a proper use though its to hold a small amount of water so sewer gasses don’t come into your home.
This is always the first place to look on your sinks whether its in the kitchen or bathroom and by removing your bath tub drain popup you can access its PTrap to remove clogs.
If the clog is not in the first foot of pipe which is normally smaller and feeds into a larger waste pipe then you will need to snake the clog free with a pipe snake.
There are a variety of different snakes for your plumbing and you want to make sure that you use the correct one. Sink Snakes are normally 10 foot long or shorter and they have a flexible shaft. You don’t want to use a solid metal shaft snake because it could damage your pipes in this area. There should also be some type of head on the snake to clear the path and it may come with the ability to rotate the snake but in practice just getting the snake in and out of the pipe is a lot of work and friction and you won’t be worrying about this.
Once you reach the obstruction you will feel as you work through it normally. Or you might not but when you retrieve the snake it should be dirty probably covered in hair and grease looking like a dead rat.
Operate the sink and see if water flows. If you still have problems try additional snaking.
Chemicals are not a great idea as they can be corrosive to metal pipes and if you can’t clear the clog they will fill the pipes with caustic liquid that could cause skin burns.
Finally if snaking does not work you may have an obstruction of your vent pipe that exits your roof and serves to provide air to allow water to flow down your pipes. You can think of the air vent like a straw full of soda if you put your finger over the top of the straw you can pull out soda from your glass. Remove your finger and air allows the water to flow.
In your home you should know the layout of your pipes whether they are in the wall or in your basement. It is important to know this because there are access ports where if you have a serious clog you can snake your pipes in the wall or basement.
This is not a difficult job to do but it is messy and chemical clog removers can make it dangerous.
Whether you are using chemicals or not always wear eye protection and wear old clothes.