How to solve my blocked sink Waste problems
Despite the constant warnings and relentless campaigning by water companies and other drainage experts, it is still the case that fat, oil and grease (FOG) being poured down sinks is responsible for 75 per cent of all drain and sewer blockages (Source: Southern Water’s ‘Pain in the Drain’ campaign). And at Christmas time when everyone looks forward to tucking into their turkey dinner, the risk of this happening is even greater.
So if you are having problems with a blocked sink waste (and the inevitable smells this can cause), you are certainly not alone! As an experienced emergency plumber in Manchester, Martin understands that it is not always easy for householders to find the right answers that will cure this type of issue.
This article will attempt to explain how the build-up of FOG can eventually lead to sink blockages and what to do should you find yourself in this situation. It will also go through what you should and shouldn’t put down your sink to ensure this kind of problem isn’t allowed to happen again.
In the picture to the right of the screen, you can see a real-life example of what a blocked sink waste can lead to.
9 common blocked sink questions
- My sink isn’t draining properly. What could be the cause?
- What is the worst-case scenario for a blocked sink?
- A smell is coming from the sink in my kitchen. How can I get rid of it?
- What type of tools will I need to unblock a sink?
- Why have I got water coming up through my sink when using the washing machine?
- Is it safe to unblock my sink when I have a macerator?
- Is it the job of a plumber or drainage engineer to unblock my sink?
- When unblocking my sink, will I need to replace the waste pipe?
- How much should it or does it cost to unblock a sink?
My sink isn’t draining properly. What could be the cause?
Most people use fat and oil to prepare food, but lard, butter, margarine and cooking oil more often than not ends up being poured away down the kitchen sink.
Over time, the oils and fats can harden inside the drains and sewers with this concrete-like material restricting the flow of wastewater in the pipework. These substances solidify and get caught up with other bits of food and household items that are disposed of in this way.
The blockages mentioned above can lead to wastewater backing up through sinks and toilets – or being pushed out into streets and waterways.
What is the worst-case scenario for a blocked sink?
Sink blockages, like a clogged toilet, can sometimes lead to flooding within the home. Needless to say, this can be very unhygienic and unpleasant for those living in the property. It can also result in costly repairs. This is without considering the environmental impact – and the effect it can have on the wider sewerage system too.
At Emergency Plumber, we recommend householders and business owners get this sorted out as soon as possible.
A smell is coming from the sink in my kitchen. How can I get rid of it?
Over time, a blocked sink can lead to unpleasant smells in the kitchen. We’ve mentioned this in a previous post on Drain Smells, so feel free to refer back to this for specific advice on this issue.
While this may seem like a bit too obvious, we’ll say it anyway: don’t flush any more water down the sink! This only serves to make the issue harder to resolve.
In terms of solutions, drain cleaners such as One Shot can be used to open clogged drains quickly. However, we would always advise householders to take the necessary precautions before using such products to unblock plugholes and pipes. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us here at Emergency Plumber and we can find an expert to sort out the problem for you.
What type of tools will I need to unblock a sink?
If you call an emergency plumber, they will be able to take care of everything – but if you do decide to sort it out yourself, you will need to get some plumbing tools which are up to the task.
To address most blockages, a plunger and a drain cleaning coil with brush – which can be picked up from most DIY stores – can be used to plunge the drain and clean the P-trap and the drain line.
Why have I got water coming up through my sink waste when using the washing machine?
It’s not uncommon for a washing machine to share the same drain as the sink. If this appliance is installed close to the kitchen then they will both probably empty into a toilet waste pipe.
Wet venting is a term used by plumbers to describe the oversized configuration of the pipes so that air can pass through the waste line while water is flowing. If the sink backs (and bubbles) up at the same time water is draining from the washing machine during the spin cycle, a sink blockage might be preventing air or/and water from flowing through the line. This can often lead to the unpleasant smells mentioned in a previous question.
Don’t let the issue get any worse. This is not a complicated job, but it is one that should be carried out by someone who knows what they’re doing. Your emergency plumber will be able to inspect the drains behind the walls to make sure this is the case. They will then decide whether to plunge the sink or a nearby toilet, depending on where they expect the blockage to be located.
Is it safe to unblock my sink when I have a macerator?
If you are concerned about unblocking your sink when you have an under-the-sink food macerator, please refer to our article on macerator problems and cures. This post explains everything you need to know about owning and maintaining an “InSinkErator” or one of the other products out there.
To be completely honest, we don’t ever encourage homeowners to buy one as they can be very dangerous, but we will still offer guidance for those who do decide to buy one. Precautions must be taken at all times when trying to unblock the waste pipe at the back of the unit. Place a bucket underneath to catch any dirty, sludgy water that may be have become trapped in the drain.
Is it the job of a plumber or drainage engineer to unblock my sink?
A drainage engineer usually works with the lateral drains and sewer systems beyond the curtilage of your home. They can be called out to work on private drains, clearing or repairing them in the case of a blocked sink; but plumbers are more used to being called out in these type of emergency residential situations.
Feel free to check out our post on how an emergency plumber can help you out of a kitchen disaster.
When unblocking my sink, will I need to replace the waste pipe?
If you have an obstruction that lies beyond the trap, and you cannot run a snake through the waste pipe, it might be necessary to disassemble some of the drain system in order to reach the source of the issue.
In most cases, the issue can be solved without having to replace the blocked sink waste pipe, but your emergency plumber can advise on whether it requires replacement compression fittings, bends or straight connectors; you might also need a new waste pipe to be cut to size.
Take a look at the following diagram which shows the flow of waste from the kitchen sink to the outside drains.
How to prevent sink blockages in the first place
There are things you can do to stop this kind of thing from happening in future. Here are just a few tips on how to dispose of kitchen waste:
- Use a sink strainer to collect food particles.
- Use an empty container, jar or fat trap to collect excess oil, grease and fat.
- Wipe and scrape plates and utensils before washing them and put any waste in with the household rubbish.
- Give grease time to cool down before throwing it in the waste bin.
How much should it or does it cost to unblock a sink and how long does it take?
To unblocked a sink waste, it is most likely going to take within the hour but that is only presuming that it is a basic blockage. Due to the type of blocked sink waste, it is wise to allow for the worse scenario for example, having to replace you waste pipe past the point of the blockage.
Contact an emergency plumber today
Whatever type of blocked sink problem you are dealing with, it is imperative that you contact a plumber who knows what they’re doing, so the issue can be fixed quickly and effectively. If you are unable to solve the problem yourself, we can recommend an engineer to come out to you.
If you are an experienced plumber in Manchester, or throughout the UK, and you would like to be included on our list of recommended plumbers, you can register by visiting our Plumbing Register page.