If you have a rental property and have found that your tenants left the sink clogged, you will need to fix it before you rent it out to new tenants. Depending on your skill level, comfort with plumbing, and willingness to get your hands dirty, you might be able to fix the issue yourself. Here are a few tips on how to fix the problem yourself as well as some advice on when you need to bring in a plumber.
What Not to Use
If the sink will not drain, be careful about using a liquid drain cleaner. These cleaners are made using harsh chemicals (often lye), and you don't want to get into a spot where you have a big sink full of water and lye. These drain cleaners are best suited for slow drains, not completely clogged drains. What could happen is that you bail out the sink, pour in liquid drain cleaner, and then have to remove it when the sink doesn't drain. You can't risk splashing the cleaners up into your face while you are later using a plunger. So it is best to just avoid liquid drain cleaners.
What to Try Yourself
A plunger is a simple tool, and it will often fix a basic clogged drain. There are some plungers that have larger bells and also ones that are flat. Either of these will work. You might want to avoid the accordion-style plunger, as these are best used for toilets (hence the small opening).
High-Powered Air Drain Cleaner
If you find that a regular plunger won't produce enough air, then you can get a high-powered air blaster. These work with compressed air. You fit them over the drain opening and then blast the air into the drain. You "pump" the blaster up and then hit a switch so the blaster releases all of the air into the drain.
Sometimes a plunger won't budge the clog. For cases such as these, you should use a snake. These are mechanical devices that you wind into the drain. A snake augers its way through the clog, breaking it up. The snake can be retracted by your winding it back using a handle.
When to Call the Plumber
If you are not able to clear the drain problem using a plunger, air plunger, or snake, then you might want to leave the matter to the professionals. At this point, you will have to have the pipes removed. This might be a simple task such as removing the P trap, but if you are not handy with tools, then you might want to skip this part. It can be easy enough to remove a pipe, but trying to fit the pipes back together is another story. The gaskets might need to be replaced, or you might have to use Teflon plumber's tape to secure a fit, and then you still might run into trouble. Also, the problem might not be the P trap. The problem might end up being a problem with your drain cutout. This will feed into the wall, which is a tough spot because you need to be able to work without cracking the seal around the wall.
You don't want to compound the problem by taking apart the sink and then finding that you can't put it back together, so just place a call to a professional plumber, such as ABEL Plumbing Inc.