DIY Drain Repair

gloved hands unclogging sink drain
  • 1-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Baking soda
Cream of tartar
Dish-washing detergent
Safety goggles
Wire hanger
Plummer's snake
Bucket or pan
Rubber gloves

Leaving a drain clogged too long can result in flooding and water damage. Take a look at the source before you call in the pros, though—there's a good chance you can fix this issue yourself.

When working with caustic chemicals like drain cleaners, always read the labels thoroughly before using them to look out for any risks, and reach for some goggles and gloves to keep the chemicals and hot water on the right side of your body.

It's also a good idea to study a pipe map of your home and learn where your shut off valves are before undertaking any major plumbing projects.

water control valves

Unclogging a Drain Without Chemicals

If your shower or sink drain is clogged, you may have ingredients that can fix the issue sitting in your cabinet.

For this process, use baking soda, salt, and vinegar. Start by removing as much water as possible from the clogged drain area. Then, shake a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow this up with a cup of salt. Then add a cup of vinegar. Within ten minutes, the drain should start bubbling. Once that occurs, flush it with boiling water. This is an effective method for clearing minor clogs.

baking soda in sink drain

Another natural unclogging recipe calls for two cups of baking soda, an eighth cup cream of tartar, and a half cup of salt. Shake the ingredients together in a container with a lid until it's thoroughly mixed.

Pour two cups of boiling water down the drain, then pour the mixed materials down, letting it sit for at least an hour. While the salt and baking soda will work away at the clog, cream of tartar works to clean the metal inside the pipe.

Finally, if you suspect that a kitchen sink drain is clogged due to grease buildup, there’s a simple solution—put two tablespoons of dish-washing detergent into a pan of boiling water. Once well combined, pour this solution down the drain. This is helpful in breaking up fatty grease clogs, allowing them to return to a more liquid state and flow down the drain.

Plunging a Clogged Drain

A plunger is a useful tool to help in fixing a clogged drain. While this could be a quick fix, it’s also one that takes a bit of patience in many scenarios. You can use a toilet-sized plunger over a shower or sink drain to help loosen and eradicate the clog, but there are also mini-plungers specifically designed for smaller drains that are more effective.

Snaking a Clogged Drain

A snake mechanism is another tool that’s simple to use yet effective in getting rid of drain issues. This is a small piece of plastic to be inserted into the drain. Usually these possess little “teeth” on the sides that provide resistance against whatever build-up could be causing the clog.

plumbing snake

Coat Hanger Method

A wire coat hanger can be used in place of a snake to get rid of a clog. You’ll have to manually straighten out the hanger and insert it into the drain. Be careful in doing this that the wire doesn’t scratch your sink.

Clean Your Sink’s P-Trap

The p-trap mechanism of your kitchen sink may need to be cleaned to clear a clog. This is the curve of the drainpipe under the sink, usually in the cabinet underneath the sink. Before doing this, place a bucket or pan to catch any water under the curved pipe. Dislodge the p-trap from the drainpipe and manually clear out anything that is stuck. Replace the mechanism, then run the water to detect whether this measure worked in fixing the drain.

Preventing Drain Clogs

The best method for a healthy drain is to work to prevent clogs and issues. To do so, avoid disposing of grease and oil in your kitchen sink. If you must do so, dump only small amounts of grease at a time down the sink while running hot water. In your bathroom, use a drain cover or strainer to prevent hair from going down the drain. Clean your drain cover as much as possible when you notice debris gathering.