Tucson Rental Property Maintenance – Unclogging a Bathroom Sink

Today I’m going to help you fix a very common issue we hear about with regards to maintaining rental properties in Tucson (done with the folks at extendedstay-tucson.com), and that is a slow draining bathroom sink. We’re going to get that thing draining again and get it unclogged. Unfortunately, this is a super common problem in many homes, but it’s not that hard to fix. So let’s get started. In order to do this fix the right way, you just need to understand a few things about the plumbing underneath your sink. So this is the drain coming from your sink.

This is the P trap. You could also argue that it should be called a U trap. So anyhow, this is the P trap, it comes down and then up and then in your wall. The reason why this is shaped the way that it is, is you need to have some water standing right here so that sewer gas doesn’t come back in from your plumbing lines and into your bathroom. So the water prevents the sewer gas from coming back into the house. And that’s why there’s water in this P trap right here.

So you need a Tupperware container like this and it’s probably a good idea to put a towel underneath where you’re going to be working. So anyhow, put the Tupperware container so that it’s directly underneath the P trap and you want to loosen the slip knots like this. Now if you can’t do it by hand, you can use channel locks like this.

And simply adjust them so that you can both fit the nut and then just unscrew the nut like so. So unscrew the top one and then unscrew the bottom one. And water will come out. That’s why you need the Tupperware container or a bucket. And let that drain off and when it slows down, you can take the whole P trap out. Now I guarantee you that this is full of some mucking guck. Watch this. So there’s definitely an obstruction in there.

What you can do is tap it up against that container or you can fish it out. Now chances are you are also going to have an obstruction that goes up to the stopper. Because there’s a rod in the back of this drain line that controls the stopper, as you can see here, there’s this rod and it sticks in the pipe here. And a lot of times, hair and mucking gunk get caught on this rod that sticks in your pipe.

The other place, and you can even see it here, there’s a piece of, I don’t know, ” gookily glook” sticking up in the goose neck portion of the pipe. You can remove this pipe and look in there too. There’s also a slip not in the back here you can take off and you can pull the goose neck portion of the pipe out. Again, look how much crud is in there. In order to clean out this drain, you’re going to have to remove this pivot arm right here.

Now it’s held in place by this nut that I’m loosening, all right? So loosen it with a pair of channel locks or a crescent wrench. Take the nut off, pull the arm out, inspect the arm, there goopity goop all over it and that’s an indicator that there’s a lot of mucking gunk in here. And I can already feel it with my finger. With the pivot arm pulled out, you can pull up on the pop up stopper. Check this out.

Look at all this goop on here. Yuck! Yucky stuff! So you know there’s a clog right down in that drain. All right. So I bought this Zip-it tool at  the local hardware store, it costs about $3.00 And this is what I’m going to use to stick down into the drain. With the Tupperware container directly underneath this drain, what I am going to do is stick the Zip-it tool down in there, okay? So stick it down in there like so. Just get all of this gunk out of there.

Just work it around and try to clear out that drain the best that you can. Now, if you have one, you can also use a drain auger like this one, all right? And it’s very simple to use. It has a sharp spring on the end of it, like this. So what you do is you unlock that, feed it down into your drain pipe, all right? Just clean out that drain the best that you can.

Now if you want to, you can also stick a paper towel down through this drain, because it’s just going to come out in the other end and into your Tupperware container. And you can use the snake to push that paper towel down through the drain to clean off the sides of the pipe. All right, check this out. Look at all the gunk that was in there. And that’s that paper towel that I shoved through. This is the stopper. It still has gunk in it.

You want to clean that off with a paper towel again. But check this out. This is not for the faint of heart. This is the paper towel that I shoved down through the pipe. Look how clogged it is. That worked out very well. With the Tupperware container in place and underneath the pipe that’s in your wall right here, what you want to do – you might as well do this because you have all the pipes out – is stick your Zip-it into this wall pipe like so and see if you catch any kind of obstruction and pull it out.

I like using the snake or an auger a little bit better, like these that you can find at Home Depot. As pretty much anyone with a home (much less a rental home that you’re managing yourself!), places like the Home Depot and Lowe’s are your home away from home!

I am going to push the auger in as far as it’ll go until you meet up with the obstruction of you even have one, okay? Once it stops, that’s when you want to spin it around. Once you find an obstruction, lock your auger in place and then spin it around either by hand or, if you have an attachment on it, you can put your drill on there and spin it around with a drill.

Then pull the auger out of the wall with your hand. Another big tip that I have is to fold up a paper towel like this and stick it down through the pipes that you removed. So this is the goose neck, all right? It’s called a goose neck because it has this shape. So stick this towel on through here like that. And you can kind of floss out the inside and get rid of any residual yuckiness.

Then finally, you have your pop up stopper and this is what looks really bad so take a paper towel and clean that  off. And this is also a good opportunity to clean off that pivot arm that is sticking in the back of drain. All right. Now is time to put everything back together. So stick your goose neck back into the wall. Make sure that this washer is flush with the pipe going into the wall, then tighten that nut up just a little bit, because you might have to adjust this goose neck in or out of the wall.

Take your P trap, position it like so and stick it up onto the drain. What I like to do is make sure that the goose neck arm is sitting down in the P trap. I am going to hand tighten this nut. Again, make sure that this washer right here is sitting flush with the top portion of the goose neck, excuse me, the P trap. Again, hand tighten like so. With the P trap in place, you can tighten this back nut, you can give one quarter turn on each of these plastic nuts with your channel locks just to make sure that they are tight enough.

All right, with the pop up stopper in place, you can put this arm in through the hole that’s in the pop up stopper and then ratchet down on this nut here with your hand and then tighten it one half to one quarter turn with this set of channel locks. Nice and tight. With the water on, check for leaks at this slip nut, this slip nut, and the slip nut back here in the wall. Also, check for leaks where you inserted the pop up stopper arm into the drain here, on the back of the drain.

Let the water run for a good minute or two and then check around to see if there are any drips. All right. Check this out. The water is draining like a champ. All right, my friends! That’s it. That’s how you fix a slow draining bathroom sink and get it unclogged. So I hope this helped you out.