Kitchen starting to develop nasty smells? Bathroom leaving nasty scents? These are common issues when it comes to blocked sinks, but the effects can be more widespread and problematic than you might think. In fact, something like a blocked sink could indicate a poorly-designed plumbing system or faulty filters that are causing blockages to form more easily. Issues like this are incredibly common regardless if you’re a commercial business owner or homeowner, but there are a number of common causes and remedies that can help you get rid of a blocked sink.
How do I tell if I have a blocked sink?
Let’s start with identifying if your problem is actually a blocked sink or not.
- Are there unpleasant odours coming from your sink? One of the most obvious ways to tell if your sink is blocked is if there are nasty smells coming from it. Blocked drains usually emit really foul odours especially if bacteria are allowed to form and thrive in your drains. This is usually caused by bits of food, such as forcing down bits of vegetables and meat into a drain or pouring down greasy liquids and waste. The decomposition of this organic matter causes these smells, but it might get worse if you turn the tap on.
- Is your sink draining really slowly? However, if you don’t force bits of food, grease, fat and other matter down your drain then another common sign is if your sink drains really slowly. This is something that you’ll only notice if you’ve had the sink for a long time. If you notice that the water is draining a lot slower than before, then it’s most likely a blockage that has formed. However, if you’ve recently replaced the plumbing or have moved into a new home and noticed that the sink is draining slowly, then it could either be a poorly-designed system or a blockage that has formed a while ago.
- Does the water continue to rise if the taps are on? One way to quickly tell if your sink has a blockage is to turn on both taps (if applicable) and wait for the water to rise. If the water from the taps is filling the basin faster than it can drain it, then there’s a good chance that there is a blockage. This is related to the previous point where the sink drains really slowly but can also be seen if you flush the toilet and the water rises to a higher level than before.
- Can you hear strange gurgling noises when water is draining? Lastly, another way to tell if there’s a blockage in your sink is to listen out for any gurgling noises. If you hear something gurgle when you pull the plug or let the water drain from your sink, then there’s a good chance that there is air trapped in the drain which could be caused by a number of obstructions. This type of blockage could indicate that a solid object has fallen into the drain and is blocking the flow of water.
These are the most common ways to tell if your sink is actually blocked. If you are experiencing all four of these symptoms then it’s important to speak to a specialist that can help you clear the blockage before it gets worse. If you’re only noticing one or two of these symptoms, then it’s only inevitable until the others start to occur as well.
It’s best to solve these issues as quickly as you can to prevent it from causing further issues in the future that could make your plumbing system difficult and expensive to repair, especially if you’re working in a large facility.
What causes a blocked sink and how do I fix it?
Thankfully, there are some cases where you can clear up a blockage by yourself without the help of a professional. This isn’t recommended in the event that you just make things worse, but let’s examine what actually causes a blocked sink in the first place to help you understand what could be going wrong with yours.
The most common reason for a blocked sink is neglect
Neglect is probably the most common reason for a blockage to occur in the first place. For instance, if your macerator has no filter and you’re accidentally dropping things like sticks, straws, knives and other hard objects that are difficult to dispose of, then you may be causing an immediate blockage before the wastewater is drained out. Fortunately, something like this can easily be fixed by clearing out the macerator that is connected to your sink. This removes the blockage and fixes the issue quickly, but you’ll need knowledge of how the macerator is connected and how to perform maintenance.
You may also be neglecting the effect that grease, oil and fat have on your drainage system. In fact, these three waste substances accounted for 75% of all drain and sewer blockages at one point. This gets even worse during festive seasons where more people are cooking at home. Certain commercial businesses, such as restaurants or food processing plants, have special grease traps that are made specifically to separate grease, oil and fat from the water. However, even this needs to be maintained, cleaned and empty to prevent drain blockage.
By taking better care of your sinks and being mindful of what you put through the system, you can solve the majority of drain blockages and never experience the nasty smells that accompany it. This is ultimately a preventative measure that will ensure that you never need to perform an expensive repair should the blockages cause damage to your plumbing system. The last thing you want to see is flooding due to blockages caused by fat, grease and oil slithering through your plumbing system.
Small immediate blockages can usually be fixed by you
If you notice that a piece of food or an object has fallen into the drain then it’s possible to quickly remedy the situation with a plunger. Simply place the plunger cup over the plug and then cover the overflow opening with a cloth. This prevents water and air from escaping through the overflow and helps to ensure that the force of the plunger drags the obstruction out of the drain. You want to move the plunger up and down while keeping a firm hand on the cloth that is covering the overflow. If you see water surging up, then let it drain while you wait again. You can also pour a sink unblocker down the drain to help dissolve and corrode things like grease, debris and oils that are difficult to plunge out.
This is a great way to get rid of immediate blockages, such as accidentally dropping something hard down the drain. However, if you’ve left the drain for some time and fats, oils and grease have accumulated further down the system, then it’s unlikely that a plunger can be used to solve these issues. In this case, you’ll need to rely on liquid solutions such as a drain cleaner or hot water.
If you’ve not had luck with the plunger or a drain cleaner, then you may be able to manually remove the blockage. This requires quite a bit of extra work on your part but isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You want to place a large bucket, towel or pan underneath the sink to catch any liquids that leak out of your pipes. Next, remove the J-shaped pipe located directly underneath the sink. Catch any liquids with the bucket, towel or pan and then look inside the pipe to remove any blockages. If possible, you may also want to have a look into the pipe from the bottom with the help of a flashlight or a phone camera. If it looks clogged then more drain cleaner should do the trick, but you can also manually remove any debris to clear the blockage.
Unfortunately, if you’ve had no luck with this then the blockage is likely further along the plumbing system. In this case, you can attempt to remove the pipes yourself to clear the blockages, but this is difficult if you don’t have access to those pipes or are unsure which ones are used for drainage.
Some final words on blocked sink problems and causes
At the end of the day, a blocked sink is most likely caused by human error and neglect. However, there are times when the blockage could be caused by poor plumbing design. Unblocking sink waste is relatively simple and can be done by yourself, but if you don’t want to risk damaging your pipes or cannot locate the blockage, then it’s best to contact a professional to help you.
At DMS (Bucks), we offer a wide range of drain repair and maintenance services, including identifying and solving your blocked sink problems. Whether you’re a commercial customer that desperately needs help with their kitchen or a residential customer that has a blocked bathroom sink, we’re more than happy to help any and all customers with their drain-related issues. Simply contact us today on 01296 651 992 and we’ll be happy to arrange an appointment with you.
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