Your double kitchen sink might be one of the best investments you ever made. You can pile up dirty dishes on one side while still being able to use the other sink. There’s no dish-traffic, one might say. But is it always that easy? Probably not. It can be so frustrating when you’re going about your day, cleaning dishes and the sink starts filling up. And when you think it couldn’t get any messier, the other one fills up too. And now you have a clogged double sink filled up with nasty water and a handful of dishes. Here’s where we come to your rescue.
What causes a kitchen sink to clog?
- Food Residue: If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen, chances are you don’t think twice about removing the food remnants before washing the dishes. You can get away with throwing small particles through the sink, but large debris usually has it harder to go down the drain. And over time, as the organic buildup will lead to a clogged sink.
- Grease: Oil in your dishes will clog up the sink, although it might seem that it does the opposite of that. The fat will get stuck in the pipe and catch food particles, causing a significant blockage over time. This blockage is also harder to clean up.
- Soap: Dish soaps are made of animal fat and oil, so they are usually the culprit behind the clogged drain.
- Foreign particles: If you live in a larger family, especially with kids or pets, you must be familiar with small things like paper towels, bones, or toys getting in the kitchen sink. When they go undetected, they clog the drain.
- Mineral buildup: If you live in areas with hard water(containing more minerals than ordinary water), the mineral buildup will harden and clog the drain.
- Blocked Garbage Disposal: Sometimes, garbage disposal blades can get entangled by fibrous foods like celery. Food containing starch, such as pasta or potatoes, can also block the drain and the disposal.
Here’s how to get started on the issue:
The first thing you need to do is examine the situation. Is there debris on the sinks that prevent water from flowing? Is either sink only flooded while the other works? Is the water from one side backing up to the other? Or are both sides filled up with still water? Then proceed as follows:
- First, you might want to clear the debris. So, put on your magical rubber gloves and get your hands dirty. Try and take out as much by hand as possible and see if it solves the problem.
- Waste disposal unit: In a double sink configuration, one side houses the garbage disposal. So, if you have a waste disposal unit, run it and check if it does something. Sometimes, when it isn’t running correctly, it prevents water flow.
- Running water: Check by running some water directly over both drains. If it doesn’t work, run boiling water, which will loosen up the pipe’s stuck sediments and get it unclogged. However, if the water is still holding up, which is very likely if you are reading this article, you have on your hands a clogged double kitchen sink with standing water.
- Tackle the standing water: Scoop out the still water from either side with a bowl or a plastic cup as it isn’t convenient or pretty to work with a sink full of littered water.
- Plunge the drain: A plunger comes in very handy in these situations. So, if you have one of those lying around, take it out and place it over the drain opening nicely for the suction cup to create a tight seal. Make sure to plug the drain on the other sink with a stopper plug to avoid making a mess. Add water to the sink so that the plunger’s lip is dipped in it. Then, push the handle up and down vigorously for a minute or few. This will get all the sink clog in the plunger. Once the pipe starts sounding empty, remove the plunger and check if the sink is cleared. Repeat this process on the other side.
Both sinks have their drainpipe in a double sink configuration that connects to the main drainage pipe (imagine a tuning fork). Here what happens is, when the mainline is blocked, there is nowhere for the water to go down except back to either of two secondary pipes. When plunging one sink, if you don’t plug the other, you push water out of the work sink to the pipe junction and back up to the other one. So it is why essential to plug one sinking while plunging the other. You may sometimes have to hold the drain plug in place while plunging the other side. In this case, if plunging doesn’t work, then you need to know that the problem is in the main kitchen drain.
In this case, you can use your chemical drain cleaners like Draino or Zep Drain; you can buy from Home Depot. They will get the work done. But remember that they are highly corrosive. So, prolonged use will damage or even eat up your drain pipes. If you have a garbage disposal unit, the harmful chemicals will damage their plastic components and the blades. So, be extremely careful while using them. Unplug your disposal unit or dishwashers, put on your gloves, and avoid any splashing.
However, if you want to avoid using those at all, we have some homemade solutions that work very well.
How To Unclog A Double Kitchen Sink
1. Baking soda and vinegar
Work on one drain while closing the other with a stopper. Take a cup of baking soda and empty it into the drain. Pour a cup of white vinegar over it and cover the drain with a rag. You should hear a fizzing sound in the pipes because of the reaction between these acidic and alkaline ingredients. Leave it be for about several minutes to an hour or even overnight. Repeat if it doesn’t work the first time. Then, slowly pour boiling water into the drain. Do the same on the other side. This method works incredibly well for grease and oil residue and is the easiest and least expensive solution.
2. Salt and baking soda
Unfortunately, if you don’t have vinegar with you, pour a cup of salt in the drain, followed by baking soda, and drain it down with boiling water. Follow the same method of working on one sink while covering the other. Again, leave for about an hour. Finally, run hot water. This homemade remedy is also ideal for grease and oil buildups.
If you’re still not too sure about the results and want to clear up more blockage, we need to get into some plumbing action. Before removing the P trap, make sure to place a bucket under the work area for catching runoff dirty water or litter. Use a wrench and channel-type pliers to loosen up the pipe. Then, take a flashlight and inspect the insides of the drain to locate the problem areas. Sometimes you might have to disassemble the horizontal pipe entirely to reveal the stub pipe that runs inside your cabinet walls.
Use a plumber’s snake or to clear out the clogged buildup. Push it down the drain line and clean the wall pipe until you feel resistance. You can also use a wire coat hanger to clear out the clog. Unwind the curved piece into a long wire by using a pair of needle-nose pliers. However, a coat hanger doesn’t get access to deeper parts of the drainage system like a drain snake. So, we recommend investing in a drain snake that you can buy from a local hardware store.
Once you are done clearing the drain, boil water, and run it directly over the drain opening to clear up any remaining grease, fat, or oil. If you did a thorough cleaning of the clog, the sink should drain well.
Another reason for a clogged drain system is an overworked garbage disposal unit. First, try resetting the disposal unit a few times to see if it does anything. If not, take out your plumbing tools, open up the disposal unit, and loosen the blades using an Allen wrench. Again, use a drain snake to remove any food waste.
Preventing Recurring Blockage:
To avert recurring sink blockage, keep the food debris that enters the sink to a minimum. Try removing as much food particles from dirty dishes as before piling them in the sink. Unblock the drain trap regularly. It is the curved part just below the sink that houses a thick mass of food scraps. You can avoid these clogs by placing a debris catcher inside the sink drain. You can dispose of all debris into a compost pile use in a garden.
When you’ve made an especially greasy or oily meal, clean the dishes with a paper towel first to get rid of extra oil. After, bring water to a rolling boil and drain it down the sink after washing oily dishes. Cleaning the drainage system every once in a while with a soda mixture is also very useful.
Avoid throwing down the drain:
- Food particles
- Paper towels or tissue
- Tea or coffee grounds
- Animal litter (even if it is flushable)
- Any motor oil or turpentine
- Acidic or caustic chemicals (like oven or countertop cleaners)
- Flammable or explosive substances
How to Keep Sink Smelling Fresh?
Another common problem people face is the foul odor that your sink gives off. Even when your sink is functioning well, there can be an unpleasant odor due to the organic buildup. The simplest way to clear this is to plug your sink and fill it with hot soapy water. Pour a little vinegar and lemon juice and let it sit for half an hour and drain it down the pipe. Do this every once in a while, and we assure you never have to face notorious smells ever again.
Besides these DIY tricks, if you face a problem that you cannot solve on your own, we recommend seeking professional help to look out for the safety of your draining system.