Plumbing Tips from an Avid DIY-er

How To Unclog A Utility Sink

Many commercial and residential buildings have a laundry sink to empty mop water and wash small tools or delicate clothing items. However, you may notice they can get clogged with constant use. A clogged sink requires immediate attention, but it isn't always necessary to hire a plumber. Follow these steps to unclog a utility sink drain.

Prepare to Unclog the Sink

To unclog a utility sink, gather:

  • plastic gloves 
  • a towel or rag  
  • an adjustable wrench
  • a bucket plunger
  • tweezers
  • petroleum jelly 
  • a drain snake
  • dish soap 

Test other sinks in the building to make certain it is the laundry sink. If other sinks work, the laundry sink is likely the problem. If other sinks are slow to drain as well, you may have issues with multiple sinks.

Detach strainers, and use the tweezers to remove visible debris around the top of the drain. Run water down the drain to see if that clears the sink.

Use Dish Soap, Snake, or Plunger

Try the boiling water method on non-plastic pipes. Squeeze several drops of dish soap into the drain, followed by boiling water, then test the drain. 

If cleaning with dish soap didn't help, fill the sink with about three inches of water. It should be enough to cover the entire cup, so the plunger has a better chance of working. Stuff a towel or rag in the overflow drain.

Rub a thin layer of petroleum jelly around the plunger to help make a tighter seal. Place the rubber piece over the drain, plunge the drain ten to twenty times, then test. 

A drain snake or auger can reach deeper clogs inside the drain, and they can be bought or rented at plumbing supply stores. Insert the tip of the snake into the hole and crank it until you feel obstructions. Wind the snake to remove the blockage and discard the clog into the bucket. If the snake gets stuck, turn the handle left, pull, then attempt to push it through again.  

Unclog the Drain Pipe

If nothing has worked, shut off the water supply to the sink, which is located underneath the sink or on the wall. Set a bucket under the S-trap, located below the sink, to catch water. Use the wrench to detach the pipe hardware and remove clogs you find inside of it.

Detach the trap arm that shows through the wall by hand or with a wrench. Snake the pipe in the same way as the drain, unwinding until you hit a clog, then pulling the clog free. 

If you have more questions about plumbing problems, reach out to a local company like Roto-Rooter


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