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How to Unblock a Sink or Toilet

16:36 Mon 24th May 2010 |

It’s something we all have to face eventually whether we are renting a property or living in our own – it is inevitable that the drain will become blocked. Rather than call a plumber most of us would like to do it ourselves and save the expense – but where should you start with a blocked drain.

Where to Start

If it is only a light clogging – and it is the “correct” type of blockage - then the plunger may be all that is required. If you are attempting to unblock a clogged sink then you can increase the strength of the plunger’s action by applying Vaseline to the edge of the plunger’s cup. Also, if you want to further improve suction adding a few inches of water to the wink can be just the trick.

You should position the plunger cup over the drainage hole and pump the handle up and down firmly. Assuming the blockage isn’t too bad then it should be clear after a few attempts.

Unclogging toilets

If you are unfortunate enough to experience a clogged toilet then applying a plunger in much the same way may be able to help. Some plungers may not be large enough, but these larger ones can be hired if buying one is an issue. For most household toilets the standard size of plunger is fine. Manipulating the handle so you can apply suction to the face of the U-bend is the best way to get results. If this fails using a plumbers snake – a flexible auger – should manage it.

Unblocking the trap

If the plunger methods fail then the best idea would be to unblock the trap. The trap is the part of the piping underneath the sink which is intended to block out odours. All you will need is a large bowl or bucket ready to catch any excess water, wrench in case any parts are particularly stiff, some wire, and of course, a small amount of elbow grease.

Most traps are either U shaped or are bottle or bulb shaped. On U shaped traps there is sometimes an access point (usually sticking out horizontally from the U shape. If your trap has an access point then simply remove the cap (with the wrench if it is stiff) and then use some wire to remove any built-up sediment.

If the access point is too small or you don’t have one then you must remove the U shape from the sink and connecting outflow pipe. Undo the nuts carefully, usually by hand, and then slowly remove the U bend itself. Clearing out anything stuck down there should improve drainage.

If you have a bottle or bulb trap you have an even simpler job. To remove you simply unscrew anti-clockwise and remove carefully. The bottle shape is extremely easy to clean. Remember that you should replace it carefully as they can cross-thread very easily.

With this in mind you should be able to deal with any blockages which should happen to befall you.

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