Why Is My Kitchen Sink Not Draining – Expert Plumbers Explain

In any kitchen, the sink is an essential component since most of the water-related activities in the kitchen are carried out at the sink. So, it can be worrisome if you notice that your kitchen sink is not draining.

Why Is My Kitchen Sink Not Draining? Your kitchen sink is not draining because the drain is clogged. Debris has accumulated in the drainpipe causing it to be completely blocked.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing recommends that you can unclog your kitchen sink by resetting your garbage disposal. Also, you can use baking soda and vinegar as home remedies for a clogged sink.

Why Is My Kitchen Sink Clogged on Both Sides?

Your kitchen sink is clogged on both sides because there is a blockage in either its main drain or garbage disposal. A buildup of food particles in your kitchen sink will lead to clogging.

When food particles or large materials cannot go down the drainpipe, they get trapped there. With time, scraps accumulate due to the lack of movement, and the pipe experiences total blockage. You may notice the blockage early enough as it begins to smell but most people only figure out there is an issue when the sink stops working.

To remove debris before performing plumbing adjustments, I recommend that you try a drain snake by Breezz that comes with a drill adapter. Click here to get yours delivered.

unclogging a double sink using a plunger

Leaving food scraps to build up is the most common cause of kitchen sink blockages and greasy foods are responsible. Greasy foods and those with high-starch content are more likely to obstruct water flow since they require more pressure to move.

While several types of food scraps make it to the garbage disposal, some simply stay stuck and make the drain run slowly.

While it may seem less obvious than a blockage, an installation problem may also be the reason your kitchen sink is malfunctioning. The garbage disposal and sink basin should have distinct traps.

These traps hold water, preventing sewer gas from returning to your kitchen. A trap should connect to the main sink drain and form a Y-shaped system. With some systems, the setup is different.

In kitchens with a double sink, the garbage disposal might connect to the other sink’s tailpiece instead, and this can cause water to push back up into the wrong sink. Rather than the usual Y-shape, systems with this structure are T-shaped and trap debris which results in a clog.

Kitchen sinks backing up on both sides is a common issue with double sinks because these are more connected than they look. Although double sinks have separate drains, a second look at the plumbing configuration shows they connect. They meet at a central drainage point and clogging can happen here or at the P-trap.

How To Determine Which Part of the Kitchen Drainpipe Is Clogged

The best way to determine which part of the kitchen drainpipe is clogged is by taking note of the degree of blockage and carrying out an inspection. You’d have to check various parts of the sink’s system and try simple solutions while at it to see if they fix the problem.

Closeup of a plumber using a wrench to tighten a fitting beneath a kitchen sink. Only the man’s hand and arm are visible. Horizontal format.

Since several issues can cause clogging and you can’t tell which it is yet, be ready to carry out various checks to get your drain running again.

  1. Plumbing parts must be inspected: Parts to inspect for clogging issues are the garbage disposal, traps, and plumbing assembly. As you check each part, follow the inspection with solutions that may resolve the entire problem.
  2. Check for Food Particles Just Visually: If you can tell the degree of blockage simply by looking at the sink, this saves you time. If you can see the food particles or items causing the clog through the drain, the solution may be simple.
  3. Remove Debris: Put on a pair of rubber gloves from Amazon and reach out to remove the scraps. If a double sink is filling with water on both sides, the trap is clogged. But not all sink issues are that easy to detect.
  4. Check for Food in the Garbage Disposal: The first part to check is the garbage disposal to see if there is an item jammed up there. If the device is stuck with large food scraps, running it again should fix the problem. This may not be the solution if the garbage disposal’s circuit breaker is overloaded.
  5. Reset the disposal’s circuit breaker to fix this and listen for the blade’s spinning sound. Items like a bone or stray spoon may be obstructing the blades. Unplug the disposal and use pliers to remove the foreign object.
  6. Check the trap: Move on to check the trap if the garbage disposal isn’t the problem. The P-trap is a common part that experiences clogging, especially with double sinks. Clear the area under the sink and place a basin underneath to check and clean the trap.
  7. Use Wrench to Remove the Pipe: The basin will catch leaks as you clean. Use a wrench to remove the pipe and see if you find trapped items. Clean the pipe properly before replacing it.

What Materials Will Cause a Kitchen Drainpipe to Clog?

Typical materials that cause kitchen drainpipes to become clogged include chemicals, grease and oil, hair, soap residue, and food scraps. Small objects and non-degradable food items obstruct water flow in drains too.

Volunteers with donation box with foodstuffs on grey background

Cooking ingredients that contain high amounts of fats or oil can harden from the drain’s coolness and cause clogs. Sometimes, grease that goes down the drain is almost solid and will not break down in the drain.

Foods that can Clog a Kitchen Drain
Coffee Grounds
Potatoe Peelings
Chicken Bones
Chicken Skin
Carrot Peels
Cooking Oil
Seafood Shells
Bacon Grease
Sour Cream

Flushing the drain with hot water may help liquefy the grease but it is best to avoid it getting into your drain completely. Get rid of these substances separately rather than flushing them through the drain.

Some soaps contain fats and even those that do not can bulk up and clog your kitchen sink. If the soap travels down the pipe without properly dissolving, it can stick to pipes and result in clogging.

Chemicals, like soap residues, may seem harmless going down the drain but these can clog the kitchen drainpipe. Bleaches, paints, and most liquid medications corrode pipes. Dispose of these chemicals safely in your trash or a suitable disposal facility.

unclog a kitchen drain of heavy grease

With kids around, toys and other small objects can find their way into your drainpipe. Most toys travel past the sink to the traps. To unclog your sink in such a situation, you might need professional help.

Food scraps are the most common materials that cause drainpipes to clog, and these include non-degradable foods. Raw foods that your garbage disposal cannot smoothly grind pose more threat than cooked food bits. Bones, nuts, eggshells, and the like have no place in your kitchen sink. They are too hard and although tiny, can converge and cause clogs.

Your sewer line is probably the last place you’d expect to be clogged but it happens. Tree roots can grow in sewer lines and back them up. If you are dealing with several clogged drains, give it a thought to check the sewer line. You may need experts coming in here as the line will need repairing after it has been cleaned.

How To Remove The P-Trap from a Kitchen Sink That Is Clogged

To remove the P-trap from a clogged kitchen sink, you will need a plumbing wrench or pliers. You can loosen it with your hands, but this may be difficult with a metal trap. Before beginning, clear the areas underneath the sink and place a bucket under the P–trap to collect debris and water.

  1. Turn of the Water Supply: Food scrap buildups are the most common cause of P-trap clogs so before removing the trap, be prepared to deal with grime. You may want to wear a nose covering to get past the stench. Also, turn off the angle stop valves to be sure the faucet isn’t going to accidentally run while you work.
  2. Locate the P-trap: Locating the P-trap is easy. Look for the part resembling an upside-down ‘P’ and unscrew with the pliers. The water and particles should drain directly into the basin and if there is a large object causing the blockage, it may drop now.
  3. Remove the Nuts. Look out for two nuts when removing the P-trap. One attaches the trap to the sink’s tailpiece, which is the small pipe you find coming down the sink. The other nut fits the trap to the adjacent wall fitting. Regular pliers should get the nuts out of a plastic trap but if yours is metal, chances are the trap is corroded and needs a more powerful tool. Try slip-joint pliers. Wearing rubber gloves increases friction and makes the nuts easier to remove.
  4. Be Careful when unscrewing the nuts: As you grip the nuts with the pliers, be careful not to scratch your sink and leave permanent marks. Slant the tool’s teeth properly so it’s easier to turn in a particular direction and gently unscrew the nuts. If the nuts are badly corroded and won’t move, consider replacing the trap.
  5. Remove Debris from Trap: Depending on the amount of debris you find in the trap’s interior, you can get it out with your hands or with a nylon bottle brush. This is also an opportunity to check the trap and trap arm for cracks or worn-out walls that need replacement.
  6. Reinstalling the P-trap after removal requires just as much precision. Avoid over-tightening the slip nuts.
replacing a sink p-trap by yourself
Parts of a P-trap
Trap Arm

How to Prevent Your Kitchen Sink from Clogging Again in the Future

The best way to prevent your kitchen sink from clogging in the future is by taking measures to keep the drain and garbage disposal working well. Preventing clogging involves being careful of what goes down the drain, keeping pipes clean, and the garbage disposal’s blades sharp.

Preventing your kitchen sink from clogging will save you many trips to the plumber plus it plays an important role in sanitation too. According to Dr. Kristina Blom, poor drainage maintenance is a threat to human health. Luckily, preventing clogging can be simple and inexpensive.

Install a garbage disposal if there is none in place to prevent waste from going down the drain and building up. A garbage disposal will grind the waste to prevent blockage. Drain strainers are a good alternative to prevent waste from escaping. If you use a garbage disposal already, clean it regularly and keep the blades sharp to prevent backing up.

Run cold water through the drain frequently for a few minutes to keep the garbage disposal’s blade functioning well. Doing this flushes grime and prevents rust. Grinding ice cubes with the appliance may assist in keeping its blades active.

Dull blades mean more work for the garbage disposal unit’s motor, reducing its life cycle. Garbage disposals with the auto-reverse function are less likely to experience jamming so they are worth it if you ever consider changing your unit.

Preventing future clogging begins with monitoring what goes down the drain. Food scraps like coffee grounds, fruit peels, eggshells, and bones can clog the drain and jam the garbage disposal’s blades.

Keep greasy food out of the kitchen sink. Chemicals and other rough materials should be sealed and disposed of at appropriate facilities. Allowing them into your drain can worsen existing problems or cause new ones.

Proper care and attention for pipes, drains, and garbage disposals may appear basic but they are effective for avoiding clogged drains. These preventive measures are manageable unlike factors like aging and overuse may be difficult to control. 

Is There A Product That Will Easily Declog a Kitchen Sink?

There are both natural and chemical alternatives that can easily unclog a kitchen sink. Which to use depends on the degree of the clog, and the type of drain system. Some products may work faster than others, depending on their formula.

Drain cleaners that unclog kitchen sinks contain chemicals that can dissolve the substance causing the obstruction. Chemical drain cleaners can be alkaline or acidic.

Products for Unclogging a Kitchen Sink
CLR for Clearing Pipes and Drains
Drain Snake (click for pricing)

The acidic variants break down grease or dehydrate cellulosic substances while alkaline cleaners create a foam that dissolves the barriers in the sink. There is, however, the question of safety with chemical drain cleaners. Using them without caution can damage objects or even affect one’s health. I recommend Drano Max Gel that is available on Amazon. Click here to have yours delivered to your front door.

using commercial strength drano max gel

Enzymatic drain cleaners are another option to consider. These contain bacteria or enzymes that break down buildups and keep drains running smoothly. They make it take longer to produce results so enzymatic drain cleaners are better used for general kitchen sink maintenance. Natural remedies like baking powder, salt, and vinegar for unclogging sinks are worth considering. They are easier to access and considered environmentally safe.

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

Recent Posts