Few things are as frustrating as a clogged pipe. In some circumstances, you may notice a buildup along the way; in other cases it may be an instantaneous thing.
No matter how big or small, when a clog occurs, your first instinct may be to grab a chemical drain cleaner to solve the problem. However, chemical drain cleaners can corrode or damage your pipes, which can cause irreparable problems down the road. And in a kitchen sink with a garbage disposal, the chemicals can also immediately impact the plastic components and the metal blades within the unit.
To avoid damaging your garbage disposal, do these few things instead.
Start by unplugging the garbage disposal – never work on a unit that has power.
Use a natural drain cleaner consisting of ¼ cup baking soda, followed by ½ cup white vinegar. Allow it to fizz for a few minutes. Then run the faucet with very hot water over the drain for two to three minutes. Repeat as necessary until the clog is removed.
If you still have a clogged drain, shine a flashlight down to see if you can find the clog. Is there a foreign object in the drain – a meat bone or even kitchen utensils have been known to cause severe problems. If you see the potential problem, reach in with a pain of tongs or a needle nose pliers.
Run water and turn the garbage disposal on. Does the water run clear? If its still clogged, continue to the next step.
If you have a dishwasher, locate the drain pipe underneath the sink that connects up with the garbage disposal. Clamp the end of the dishwasher drain line where it enters the disposal by placing a clamp over the nozzle. The clamp will prevent the hose from popping off the disposal nozzle as you plunge the sink drain.
Place the plunger directly over the sink drain so the plunger bell completely covers the drain basket. Run the faucet so the lip of the plunger is covered in water. Vigorously plunge the drain for up to a minute.
Lift the plunger and check the water flow. If still clogged, repeat this process a few times to see if you can release the clog. Once the water flows, run hot water for a few minutes to clear any residue.
If you still have a clog, its time to call in a professional.