When the waste water in your sink, lavatory or tub starts to run out slowly it is a sure sign an obstruction is building up somewhere along the drain pipes, and it is likely you will end up with a completely stopped-up waste pipe.
Get at the problem right away, before your line is completely blocked, with a can of chemical drain cleaner or even boiling hot water; it may save you the work and trouble of removing the waste trap pipe under the sink. (If you have a septic tank disposal system be sure to use the type of chemical drain cleaner that will not stop the bacterial action in the septic tank. Check the label on the can. )
Sink and lavatory drain
Grease from washing dishes is the major cause of a clogged kitchen-sink drain. Carried by the warm waste water, the grease solidifies on the bends in the cold drain pipe. Other waste particles become embedded in the hardened grease and before long an obstruction is built up. Chemical drain cleaners generate heat, when mixed with water, which softens the hardened grease so that it will run down the drain. Often a bucket of water heated to the boiling point on the kitchen range and poured slowly down the sink drain will clean out the solidified grease. Tap water is usually not hot enough to soften the grease.
If the drain is completely blocked so that water is left standing in the sink, do not attempt to ladle out some of the water and pour a chemical cleaner containing lye into the drain pipe. In most cases the cleaner will not reach the obstruction, and it may form a hard crystallized deposit in the trap or waste pipe. Such a deposit is extremely difficult to remove and leaves you with a worse stoppage problem than you had in the first place.
Instead, first try to break through the obstruction with a rubber force cup or “plumber’s friend.” Even though you only get the water to drain slowly, it may be enough so that a chemical cleaner will then flow down to the place of the obstruction, where it can go to work.
When using a force cup on a double-bowl kitchen sink or laundry tub, seal the drain in the sink you’re not working in with a sink stopper or a sponge-rubber ball held down firmly over the drain opening. Otherwise the force cup will merely raise the water in the other sink and not remove the obstruction.
The same holds true when using a force cup on the bathroom tub or lavatory drain. Here the overflow openings must be sealed by holding a damp washcloth tightly against the openings to prevent loss of pressure. If the lavatory or tub has a pop-up drain stopper, it should be removed before using the force cup. Most pop-up stoppers can be removed quite easily by first setting the stopper control lever or knob in the half open position, and then turning and lifting the stopper. If the stopper is the type that must have the lever disconnected before it can be lifted, remove the lever fitting located under the lavatory on the drain pipe.
Because the pop-up type stoppers must have the opening and closing mechanism in the drain pipe, hair and lint collects on the mechanism and retards the flow of waste water. For this reason, it’s a good idea to remove the pop-up stoppers and clean them every few months.