Access Plumbing in Edmonton & St. Albert

This DIY can help you fix the following problems:

  • An object has been dropped down the sink drain (ring, etc.)
  • Water in the sink drains slowly or not at all

What you'll need:

  • A bucket, pail or other container that will hold water
  • Rubber gloves
  • Pliers or wrench
  • Wire coat hanger or large nylon bottlebrush
  • Small retractable drain snake

What you need to know:

Underneath your sink is a P-trap, a curved piece of pipe that looks like a letter P.

Fun fact: It's curved like that because it's designed to hold some water that drains from the sink. The water acts like a stopper, preventing sewer gas from coming back up the pipe.

Unfortunately, because of its shape, the trap can clog with hair, grease, soap scum, and other nameless muck. (The trap is also where you'll find that ring you dropped down the sink drain!)

The P-trap is the main cause of clogs. Even a small clog can cause a sink to drain slowly.

How to fix it:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the sink, to prevent it from being used while it's being worked on, by turning off the two taps underneath the sink.
  2. Clear out the space underneath the sink to give you room to work, then put the bucket or container directly under the P-trap.
  3. Here's where things might get messy, so put on your rubber gloves. Using pliers or a wrench, remove the two coupling nuts that attach the trap to the other pipes: the one coming from the sink (the tailpiece) and the other one going to the wall. (If the nuts break when you try to loosen them, it's time for a trip to the hardware store to buy a replacement trap. If the nuts won't budge, try a plumber's wrench, or wrapping the nut in a cloth or piece of rubber. If they still won't budge, call us.)
  4. Slip the coupling nuts away from the connections and pull off the trap. This will be the messiest part of the job, so make sure the bucket is there to catch any water or mess.
  5. Clean the inside of the trap with a straightened wire coat hanger or a bottlebrush. Make sure that all the parts are completely clean inside and out. This is a good time to fish out any objects you lost down the drain and want to keep! Check the bucket as well.
  6. While you're cleaning the trap, check and clean the washers. They should be soft, flexible, and free of cracks. Any gunk lodged between a drain washer and the drainpipe can cause a leak. If the washers are hard, brittle, cracked, or damaged, you need to replace them.
  7. Once the trap and washers are clean, clean the inside of the wall pipe. Insert a drain snake directly into the pipe, and work it in and out while rotating the handle clockwise. Make sure the bucket is underneath to catch anything that comes out.
  8. Reassemble the trap.
  • Make sure each washer is properly seated. 
  • Don't over-tighten the connections. Tighten them by hand first, then try running some water into the sink to see if the connections leak. If they do, tighten them a little more and recheck. Repeat until the leaking stops.
  • Make sure the washers don't twist when you tighten the coupling nuts. If the leak doesn't stop no matter how much you tighten, it probably means the washers are twisted, dirty, or cracked. Remove the trap, check the washers again, replace them if necessary, and then reassemble.

Still having problems?

We try to make all our DIY tips easy to follow, but if you need help, we're here for you. We're only a call or an email away!