Have you ever had your kitchen sink clogged past the trap? Or a kitchen sink not draining, but the drain pipes you see are clear?
We’ve all faced this frustrating experience at some point. The water coming back up, the bubbling sound, the slow draining—you know the drill!
Well, I have a simple solution you can easily try first:
Vinegar and baking soda work wonders for stopped up sinks…in most cases.
This method is easy enough to try but it may not do much for major clogs that are down the line.
So, I’ll also cover two other methods that will get things moving where you can’t easily reach them:
They’ll involve using either a plumber’s snake (but you won’t pay a plumber!) or a wet/dry vacuum if you’ve got one.
Either way, follow the steps below and you’ll be back in business in no time.
Why Is Your Kitchen Sink Clogged Past Trap?
Why is my kitchen sink trapped beyond the trap?
Most people believe that since kitchen sinks have water running through them, this should continually rinse away residue build-up down past the pipes beyond the drain pipes you see below your sink.
So technically, the kitchen sink shouldn’t clog right?
Well, I wish it was that easy, but it isn’t.
Drain plumbing off the kitchen mostly clogs over time because of oil and grease. Both elements are water’s enemies.
You can keep pouring water down on an oily sink all day, and the oil won’t budge.
It doesn’t have any polar molecules, so it won’t react with the water.
Even small bits of oil or grease can build up and lead to clogging eventually.
When the grease gets down there, it cools down and turns sticky, latching onto drain pipe lining.
Every time more fat goes down the sink, it keeps building up on itself until it creates a large clog.
Pair that with the food residue, and whatever you wash down your sink backs up…and eventually creates a clogged sink.
How to Fix a Kitchen Sink Clogged Past the Trap – The Natural Method
Baking soda and vinegar go better together than peas and carrots. They make for a pretty good couple, and their uses are endless.
Does your iron have burn marks? Baking soda and vinegar will clean it. Want to unclog a sink? Use baking soda and vinegar.
Their best use remains unclogging sinks, though. The satisfying feeling as both go down and you hear the water bubbling, unclogging the sink, is hard to match.
But will they work for clogs past the trap?
Let’s give it a try using the following steps.
Step 1: Prepare Your Sink and Supplies
The first thing you should do is make sure there’s no water standing in the sink or trap below.
This means, you may have to wait an hour or even overnight for the blocked water to gradually seep out.
If the water truly won’t go down, you can try using the plunger (see step below) to help clear the trapped water.
In some cases, the sink will be draining but the pipes are clear…that you can see.
Either way, you need the upper pipes clear so your solution can get to where it needs to go.
Next, gather all the items you’ll need for to make your homemade clog clearing solution.
You should get baking soda and vinegar, and get some boiling water ready (see why below).
Step 2: Off with the Baking Soda
Now that you have everything ready for unclogging, fill a half cup of baking soda, and throw it down the sink.
It doesn’t matter unless you have a garbage disposal. If so, use the opposite sink so your solution can get down in the pipes as easily as possible.
You can also use a funnel to help direct the solution further down the drain and not get stuck on the surfaces of the immediate pipes.
Now, wait for three to five minutes as the baking soda settles inside your sink.
During this time, it will also begin eliminating any unpleasant odor coming from the decaying matter in the drain.
Step 3: It’s the Vinegar’s Turn
White vinegar has high acidity. Paired with baking soda, it works wonders for dissolving stubborn food bits stuck before the trap.
A high-acidic version of vinegar is best. This is the type that’s made for cleaning and not cooking/eating.
After leaving the baking soda for a couple of minutes, pour the vinegar down.
You’ll hear it bubbling, and you may see some foam coming up.
That means the vinegar is working, and it should stay like that for a few minutes.
Step 4: Pour Boiling Water
After leaving the vinegar and baking soda to do their work for a few minutes, it’s time to pour down some boiling water.
The hot water will efficiently rinse away the baking soda and vinegar residue along with the material it’s broken up.
Step 5: Time for the Plunger
If the sink is still clogged even after pouring baking soda and vinegar down the drain, it’s time to give the plunger a try (if you haven’t already!).
The plunger sucks out the air, the forcefully pushes it back in to help move along any blockages.
All you have to do is cover the sink’s drain with the plunger’s head, then keep pushing it in and out up to ten times. Then, remove it forcefully.
You should feel it being sucked in, and you’ll hear the water flushing down.
If it doesn’t work, try it again, and repeat it until the sink is free of clogs.
If you have a double sink, make sure to close one of the openings with a wet rag.
If you don’t do this, the air will escape from it, so the plunger won’t have any effect.
Tried all that but nothing worked?
Here’s a few more tactics that plumbers use. They are the next level if your stoppage just won’t budge.
Step 1: Clean the P Trap
Assuming you’ve not actually checked the P Trap in your drain yet, this step is worth considering.
I’ve found at least twice in my life that some of the blockage is actually occurring AT that tight little bend in the pipes below the sink.
Here’s how to do it:
Before attempting to take the trap apart, make sure to put a drip pan underneath.
You can use old containers, bowls or a deep sheet pan (or combo of both).
You don’t want the water to end up on your kitchen floor.
After that, start removing the P trap.
You may need to loosen a couple of compression rings, depending on the design of your drain pipes.
It’s relatively easy, though, and you can remove the trap with your hands afterward.
It’s not as tight as you think it is but I use grippy gloves as they just plain make it easier!
If not, you can always use a pair of pliers.
After you take the trap apart it’s time to see what, and if anything, is in there!
Is it potato peelings? A utensil? A sludge of the last few night’s dinner scraps?
Or perhaps, it’s just a general accumulation of old grease.
Either way, you’ll want to clean up any kind of buildup inside.
You may find a lot of stuff stuck to the interior pipe walls, and that’s normal.
Simply hand wash it in another sink with warm, soapy water. You may need to let it soak for a couple hours in hot water.
If the trap isn’t obstructed, the blockage may actually be in another location such as before the trap.
Checking there may actually make sense before you rule out the culprit blockage being situated beyond the trap and the rest of the under-sink plumbing.
To investigate this, remove any other compression collars up higher and closer to your sink’s drain.
You can see below how this happened to me on one occasion:
Sure enough as soon as this collar started to loosen, water began spilling out.
That’s the obvious sign that the drain blockage is in this spot!
As soon as the collar came loose and the pipe dropped down a bit, I started to see the junk responsible for the clog:
Time to get cleaning – I recommend removing this assembly completely and using anything thin and pointy to push the gunky mess into the garbage.
Then, simply wash the pipes in hot, soapy water to remove any leftover grime and get them squeaky clean before screwing back on and tightening down the collars.
Be sure to get everything lined up properly and tight!
Now, if you found these pipes to be clear and clean, and isn’t the source of the sink backup after all, move on to the next step.
Step 2: Use a Plumber’s Snake
By now it’s clear that the blockage is occurring so deep that you won’t see it when you open the trap.
In this case, a plumber’s snake is the only thing that’ll work.
This tool is a tall, flexible tube that goes down the sink to unclog it.
It’s the same mechanism that can work for clogged toilets, and it does the job in the kitchen as well.
All you have to do is insert the snake down the drain and keep rotating it.
Then, when you feel like it’s caught most of the residue that’s blocking the trap, start pulling it out.
Make sure to do it slowly; you don’t want the food residue to fall down the trap again.
When the snake is out, empty it in a bucket, then feed the snake down the sink again.
Repeat the process until the snake isn’t pulling anything anymore; that means the sink is entirely clean.
To make sure, pour boiling water down the drain again.
Chances are, it won’t drain if the clog is larger than our expectations, and now you have one last option.
Step 3: Use a Wet-Dry Vacuum
Unclogging sinks isn’t included in a wet vac’s job description, but who said we can’t try?
Remove the trap like you did earlier, so you can extend the vacuum into the drain pipe.
Now, grab the vacuum’s hose, put its end on the drain pipe, and turn it on.
Here are three reasons it’ll work:
- The air suction is a lot more powerful than that of a plunger
- The hose can reach far inside
- The clog is likely before the plumbing vent for this drain, so the air suction will surely get it out
Time for a Plumber?
Sometimes doing things yourself, no matter how many DIY methods you try is either too much or just isn’t working.
I get that 100%.
There’s never any shame in calling a plumbing expert who can come in and take care of business quickly (and back up their work).
A backed-up sink is no exception!
I’ve used plumbers in the past, and it’s risky when you hire them blindly (or even if you take your neighbor’s word for it because the guy they recommended did so well for them).
Unfortunately, home repair specialists like this often aren’t reliable or complete their jobs adequately.
So that’s why I always connect up with Networx: A straightforward quote system that instantly connects me to a professional I know I can trust.
Networx has already done the “word of mouth” verifications for you; pre-screening and approving capable plumbers in your area.
If you’re out of patience or ideas for your clogged sink, get a local quote now (it’s free), and get someone to drain your sink and have it working normally again!
Prevent Potential Clogs
Now that you unclogged the sink, you don’t want to repeat this process again, do you?
To prevent the sink from clogging again, you can take some preventative measures.
Some foods have more tendency to clog the sink.
Here are the most common ones:
- Coffee grounds
Coffee grounds get solid, and they stick to the pipe.
Likewise, meat produces grease over time, and cheese spreads inside the drain and sticks to the pipe.
To prevent these foods from reaching your drain, you can collect them in a can and throw them in the garbage so they don’t end up down the drain.
You can also get and/or ensure you’re use a kitchen sink drain gate.
It’ll stop large food particles from falling down, and you can empty them in the garbage.
These gates from Solid are pretty convenient for the job, and they’ll fit most conventional kitchen sinks.
Lastly, you can make sure to throw boiling water down the sink every once in a while. You can also put lemon halves and grind them up with your garbage disposal.
This will help dissolve the fresh food particles so they don’t build up over time.
Frequently Asked Questions
I get it; you still have questions. It’s okay, I’ve got you!
Here’s a few to help you as you take on this DIY repair adventure.
Does running water down the drain help unclog a sink?
That’s a definite no in just about every case.
Pouring water down a completely clogged drain of any kind will only make it worse because it’ll come back up.
You can try pouring boiling water, but that’s only if the clog is mild and fresh.
You might want to test this initially if you suspect a clogging issue but…
If the sink is clogged up to the point that the water isn’t draining, the last thing you want to do is pour more water down.
Will a plunger work for a kitchen sink clogged beyond the trap?
In mild clogs, a plunger will work because it’ll loosen up the food residue and grease, and the sucking motion will clear up the sink.
Plungers also work well for clogs in the drainpipe.
However, if your kitchen sink is clogged somewhere in the wall and it’s solid, the plunger may not work.
It’ll still loosen the clog and make it easier for you to fix the issue, but it won’t be enough.
In this case, you’ll need an auger or a plumber’s snake.
It totally depends on how bad the clogging is.
How do you get a plumber’s snake past the sink’s trap?
The right thing to do to get a snake down the drain is to insert it slowly.
If you crank it or try to force it down, it’ll come back up because it’ll bend on itself.
You want to be as gentle as you can, and it’ll slide right through the drain.
Just make sure you have the right size to fit your sink.
If you did everything right and the auger is still not getting past the drainpipe, there’s a chance you have the wrong size.
Can a clogged sink unclog by itself?
That’s a fat chance.
Clogged sinks may clear themselves up if the clogging is mild and in the drainpipe.
If it gets far down the trap, you’ll need to do something about it.
Having a kitchen sink clogged past the trap can be a bit tricky to solve.
The grease has likely been building up over time, and it needs some kind of force to loosen it up and move it along.
Vinegar and baking soda should work fine, but if the clog is challenging, a plumber’s snake is great option.
Don’t worry; we’ve all been there! It only takes some patience, and you’ll get the job done.