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Why Won’t My Kitchen Sink Drain?


A clogged kitchen sink will ruin your whole day. It’s gross, it’s inconvenient, and it can become a huge problem for your plumbing. Frankly, it’s the last thing you want to see when you’re in the middle of meal prep or planning on having company. When you do experience a kitchen sink blockage, chances are it’s because of one of these 5 things.

What Not To Pour Down Your Drain?

1. Grease and Oils

Have you ever seen bacon fat or butter sit in a pan at room temperature? Yeah – unpleasant. At least when it’s in a pan or poured into a receptacle, you can properly dispose of it. But many people wash it down the kitchen sink drain when they rinse the pan, never realizing that they’re actually harming their pipes.

Grease and oil will congeal at room temperature. So every time you dump fats and starchy foods down the sink, you’re systematically adding another layer of buildup to your pipes. Eventually, this will create a blockage, and your kitchen sink won’t drain.

2. Soap and Chemical Build-Up

We know what you’re thinking. ‘Soap is clean! How could that possibly be causing me problems?’

When soap mixes with mineral-heavy water, it creates soap scum. You’ve definitely seen it. It’s a white substance that adheres to your shower, bathtub, and yes – the kitchen sink. One sign you have mineral build-up is when your hot water is way too hot.

Over time, this scale will build-up, and cause a clog. The same thing can happen with chemicals.

3. Food Scraps

It’s dinner time. You’ve made a tasty meal, and now it’s clean-up time. While washing dishes, some stray green onions, the odd noodle, and some strings of cheese left clinging to the plate all get swept into the sink and down the drain. Sound familiar? Even if you have a garbage disposal, food scraps are a no-no. They create major blockages that can damage your pipes and make a dent in your bank account.

Scraping off your dirty dishes before washing and a basket for your sink drain to catch any scraps you may have missed will help avoid a clogged sink.

4. Coffee Grounds

It may be hard to resist dumping your used coffee grounds into the garbage disposal, but your kitchen drain is no match for them. Over time, your kitchen sink will start draining slowly until you’ve got clogged drains on your hands. It won’t break down with water and will keep packing down in your drain until no amount of boiling water will help.

5. Fruit & Vegetable Stickers

While the stickers we find in our balanced grocery list can be a bit of a nuisance- they are a nuisance when it’s time to unclog a kitchen sink. Keep in mind that just because it fits in the drain opening, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea! Your fruit and vegetable stickers need to go in the garbage (they do not break down quickly and shouldn’t be composted).

How Do I Fix Clogged Drains?

If you do find yourself with a kitchen sink that won’t drain, don’t get too stressed and make a mistake. If you do it incorrectly you could go from a clogged kitchen sink to standing water- but there are a few things you can try before you call us.

1. Try a Plunger

If it appears to be a very small blockage that’s causing more of a slow drain than an outright blockage, your plunger is about to come in very handy. You can either sanitize your toilet plunger with some soap and water or pick up a sink-only plunger for a low price at a hardware store. Keep in mind a sink plunger and toilet plunger are two different designs.

First, run some warm water to try softening the clog – particularly if you suspect that grease is the problem. Make sure your plunger is fit snugly over the drain. Pump firmly a few times before moving the plunger. If this doesn’t work, you may want to progress to another remedy.

Remember: If you have a garbage disposal, make sure it is unplugged before trying this or any other drain clearing method.

2. Use Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Boiling Water

It’s the old grade-school volcano science experiment, but with a twist.

Knight’s Clog-Busting Cocktail

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • ½ cup  white vinegar
  • Very hot water or boiling water
  • Wait for all the water to clear from the drain.
  • Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Tip: A funnel will help direct the baking soda into the drain rather than around it.
  • Pour half a cup of vinegar down the drain after it. Immediately cover with your drain plug. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Remove drain plug. Pour a few cups of hot water directly down the drain to check for any improvements.

Does This Really Work?

It’s a little low-tech, but for minor clogs, this technique is known to be effective, and a natural alternative to chemical cleaners.

Baking soda has a basic pH level which means it reacts well with the acidic pH level of vinegar. The fizzing and popping you hear is the base-acidic reaction that can cause slime and grease to loosen and dislodge in your kitchen sink.

While this is certainly a fun and oddly satisfying way to clear your kitchen drain, unfortunately, it won’t work on a serious drain clog or drains that seem to clog repeatedly.

3. Invest in an Environmentally Safe Drain Cleaner

When you need something with a bit more ‘oomph’, you’ll want an actual drain cleaning product. We recommend Bio-Clean drain cleaner because it is natural, safe, and environmentally friendly. Bonus: it’s Canadian-made.

Chemical-filled cleaners are corrosive. If you, a child, or a pet comes in contact with them, they could cause severe burns or other injuries. They’re also corrosive inside your plumbing, and introduce more chemicals to the water supply. Bio-Clean contains bacteria that specifically eat the organic materials that are coating your drain. They’re like the Hungry Hungry Hippos of the drain world – they won’t stop until the job is finished.

Bio-Clean is available through us – all you have to do is ask >

4. Plumber’s Snake

Dislodging the piece that has caused the clogged drain may fix things for now. Try using a plumber’s snake or a coiled spiral snake. In a pinch, you can straighten out a wire coat hanger- but it’s not the most effective method. Feed the drain snake in until you feel resistance and put some extra pressure before you begin spinning the snake. If the water drains, run water again to be sure it didn’t just get stuck farther down the sink drain.

Should I Check the P-Trap Myself?

Snaking the drain or cleaning the P-Trap are terms you’ve probably heard from professional plumbers, hardware stores, and DIY websites. The P-Trap is the U-shaped pipe under your sink and can harbour some mean clogs.

While you can clean these out yourself, one wrong move could actually cause more damage to your plumbing. It’s also extremely messy. If you’ve tried the drain-clearing methods we mentioned above, and your drain is still giving you grief, we recommend that you let us clear out the P-Trap, and investigate any other causes.

You won’t have to get down and dirty, and you won’t have to worry about additional damage.

How Can I Prevent Future Clogs?

We’re liking your initiative! If the problem is scale buildup from soap scum, a water softener in Calgary might just do the trick. Anything else, and you’ll want to check out this infographic to learn more >

Taking preventative measures to avoid a clog will keep your plumbing healthy and you happy.

Call Knight to the Rescue

Drain clogs can become serious problems if left untreated. So if your kitchen sink won’t drain, and you’ve tried a few of our tricks, don’t wait to call on us.

We know how important your kitchen sink is, and how frustrating drain clogs can be. Book an appointment with us, and we’ll be there as soon as possible to make your problems disappear. From one cup to a basement full of standing water- Call you Knight in shining armour, the local plumber here to the rescue.

My Drains Need Rescuing