Thanksgiving is here! Thanksgiving is a lot of fun and a lot of work. Often, in haste, things are thrown down the kitchen sink and Black Friday has a new meaning. The madness may result in a clogged drain from all the dishes in the sink and maybe even a funky smell.
Unfortunately, our favorite holiday meals and side dishes create havoc on our drains. Hearty comfort foods like mashed potatoes and gravy are also the best ways to create a clogged drain. Plus, smaller food particles get washed down the drain compile into a blockage especially on older drains!
Throw in some house guests and that small drainage issue in the bathroom erupts into a full-fledged clogged drain. And the extra water creates serious stress on the plumbing system.
If you are having guests over the holidays and have some minor drainage issues, then consider contacting your trusted plumber. Nobody wants to explain to their mother-in-law why she can't shower on Sunday morning.
Avoiding a Clogged Drain
Like most things, preventative measure go along way to avoid costly mistakes. Here are some top tips to avoid clogged kitchen drains.
- Do not pour cooking oil (or fat) down the drain because it solidifies in the pipes.
- Do not put skins (chicken, turkey), starchy (potato peels, rice), stringy (celery), or fibrous waste (coffee grinds, corn husks) down the drain because these substances cannot be broken down in the disposal.
- Turn the disposal on (with water running!) before putting food or waste down the drain.
- Allow the disposal to "catch up" after each cup of waste is poured down the drain.
For families with houseguests, then these tips help with potential drainage problems over the holidays. (They also work all year!)
- Ask guests to wait about 10 minutes between showers because the drains need time to work. This is great for slowly working drains to prevent a clog while you have guests visiting.
- Avoid flushing hair or wipes (including cotton balls) down the drain because they do not dissolve.
Mainly, if you use common sense and err on the side of caution, then you can likely avoid issues over the holidays. If your drains are in great working order, then they should be able to handle the Thanksgiving dinner dishes with no problem.
Unclogging a Sink
Despite your best efforts, sometimes things happen and you may find yourself with a clogged drain. Depending on your comfort level, there is some DIY check to fix drainage issues before calling the specialists!
Check the Garbage Disposal
A frequent cause of drainage issues is actually clogged garbage disposal. When you turn on your garbage disposal and hear a low hum instead of the healthy motor, then check the disposal!
- Turn the disposal off and unplug the unit.
- Check to make sure there are no tripped breakers in the fuse box.
- Attempt to clear the clog by turning the blades manually with an Allen wrench (there should be a hole at the bottom of the disposal).
- Plug in the disposal and turn it on (it might need a minute to cool off - if so, press the reset button on the bottom and try again).
If the drain persists, but the garbage disposal is clear and working, then there you will need to take some additional steps. As always, once you feel out of your element, then consider finding some help to avoid larger issues or injuries.
Use a Plunger
For the most part, drains that do not require professional assistance will be minor. There is likely something stuck in the drain and the fix is just removing the substance that is causing the backup. This is the ideal job for the plunger!
- To start, partially fill the sink with water (if the drain is your kitchen sink with two sides, then cover the other side - possibly with a wet rag).
- Work the plunger because the upstroke and downstroke break up the clog.
- Remove any waste that comes into the sink on the upstroke because you don't want to force it back down the drain.
Do not plunge the sink if you tried a commercial drain cleaner. Allow the drain cleaner to work through the sink because the chemicals are dangerous if they touch your skin while plunging the sink. In general, using chemicals can do more harm than good to the drain pipes.
Of course, at times, the plunger will help move some substance around, but the clog will persist. It is possible to uncover the blockage through snaking the pipes or cleaning the trap.
Clear the Sink with Baking Soda and Vinegar
Depending on the severity of the clog, then some basic household products combine to create a powerful solution. Baking soda and vinegar are mortal enemies, but you can combine their explosive reaction to unclog and clear your drain.
- Start by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain.
- Add about ½ cup of baking soda and let it sit for a few minutes.
- After a couple minutes, combine 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of boiling water and pour down the drain.
- This will cause an explosion so cover the drain and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes in order to allow science to work its magic.
- Flush the drain with another pot of boiling water.
If the water is flowing well and there are no apparent drainage problems, but a funky stench remains, then you may just have an odor problem.
Again, baking soda and vinegar can work wonders to help alleviate drainage issues because the chemical reaction works to deodorize the drain. In addition, the explosion gets into the crevices of the garbage disposal to help avoid future smells from popping up.
To freshen up the smelly drain with baking soda and vinegar, then start by running some hot water.
Next, pour ¼ cup of baking soda down the drain and flip the garbage disposal on for a few seconds.
Let the baking soda linger and leave the drain alone for 10-15 minutes.
Finally, pour about one cup of vinegar down the drain to create a bubble eruption. Let science work for a few minutes and then rinse the drain with some hot water. Feel free to run the disposal for a couple of seconds to clear out any waste.
If you are looking for a few quick fixes, then you are in luck. There are a few ways to get rid of the smell.
- Lemon Peels: throw some lemon (or orange) peels down the drain and run the garbage disposal. The citrus in the peels will help dissolve the smell.
- Ice: Fill the sink with a couple of cups of ice and run the cold water with the garbage disposal. The blades grinding with the ice will help scour the buildup and help dissolve the smell.
As always, Snappy is here to help. If these tips and tricks don't work, then you may have a more serious problem and should consult with a trusted professional. Snappy is here 24/7, so feel free to contact us anytime and make sure the water runs smoothly all holiday season.