Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fixing a clogged bathroom sink - the lay-person's guide

We need to make 2 assertions for the sake of this story.

1. Sinks get clogged, or slow-draining, once in a while.

2. I'm not a handyman by profession, hobby, or natural inclination, but I've been a homeowner for the last 14 years, and I've learned a lot along the way.

Fixing the bathroom sinks in my first 2 homes was easy; I simply had to pull the stopper/plug out of the drain and clean out the gunk.  My current house is different, because the stopper won't come out.

One of the bathroom sinks has been slow-draining for about 10 months now (I'm embarrassed to say).  I wasn't able to remove the stopper, and I've been a little bit intimidated by the thought of having to do major plumbing work, so I've been fighting the problem with a steady diet of Draino - a temporary fix to say the least.

This weekend I got myself psyched up and ready to find the culprit, no matter how long it took.  What I learned is that it only took 5 minutes, tops!  Here's how it works, in lay-person's speak:

The stopper is secured in the drain because a pin holds it in place.  If you look under the sink, you'll see the pin coming out of the drain-pipe (where it's attached by a screw and a rotating ball-socket) and connected to another metal rod which leads upward and becomes the handle at the back of the sink which opens and closes the stopper.

fixing a clogged bathroom sink

I used a medium sized Channel Lock pliers to unscrew the pin at the pipe (where you see the rotating ball-socket), and voila - out came the stopper.  I gave it a quick cleaning, then used a bent coat hanger to scoop out the gunk inside the drain.  I then replaced the stopper, reattached the pin/rod, and screwed in the main screw.

The whole job took 10 months & 5 minutes, and my sink flows like new.  You could probably do it in just 5 minutes!

Oh yeah - one more tip:  don't run the water while you have an exposed hole in the drainage pipe, or you'll need to clean up that mess too.  (that one's free, from me to you..)

Your not quite a plumber Realtor,

Chris Butterworth