what causes kitchen sink to clog

Whether you love to cook or not, the kitchen sink is a high-traffic area in most homes. A clogged kitchen sink can bring your day to a screeching halt! 

If you’re frantically searching for a professional drain cleaning near me, Iron Mountain Plumbing has you covered. Here are some tips on what to avoid putting in your kitchen sink, what causes the kitchen sink to clog, and how to cope when disaster strikes. 

Common Causes of Kitchen Sink Clogs

Clogs in your kitchen sink drain can happen for a variety of reasons. Let’s go over the most common reasons sinks clog so you know what is okay to put down your sink and what should go in the trash to prevent blockages.

Food Scraps

Your garbage disposal is not indestructible. With your sink getting so much use at mealtimes, food particles end up slipping down the drain. While most foods don’t pose a threat to your garbage disposal, a couple of foods in particular can cause real problems when they accumulate in your drain over time:

  • Starches: Pasta, potato, beans, and rice expand when they come into contact with water, so as they break down inside your drain, they create a sticky paste that’s hard to get rid of.
  • Coffee grounds: Coffee beans have an oily exterior. When ground coffee gets wet, it expands, clumps together, and becomes extremely dense. This is a nightmare for your sink drain or garbage disposal. 
  • Stringy or hard foods: You should always keep your sink clear of food particles, but there are a few foods to avoid putting down your garbage disposal. Stringy foods like celery should never go in the disposal, as they can wrap around the blades. Hard bones, fruit pits, and eggshells should also go in the trash.

Fat, Oil, or Grease

Bacon grease is perhaps the most notorious clogger of sink drains; most people know to steer clear of pouring hot fat oil or grease right down the drain. Grease, oil, and fat all solidify as they cool down, so if they go down your drain, they will create a sticky sediment that traps other food and attracts more grease, creating a big, difficult-to-remove mess. 

If grease does end up finding its way into your garbage disposal, it’s best to run cold water into the drain so the grease will harden and the blades of the disposal can chop it up more easily. 

Paper Towels

You know what a big, wet wad of paper towels looks like. Now imagine that in your sink drain. Nothing’s getting past that! Paper towels absorb water and expand, so putting them down your sink is never a good idea.

Small Objects

If you are the parent of a young child, you know there’s no limit to the variety of strange things that can end up being what causes the kitchen sink to clog, against all odds and reason. Even if you don’t have a little one trying to stuff your car keys down the drain, random things can still fall down the drain without you noticing. 

If you suspect something has gotten lodged in your pipes, you can try turning off the water, unscrewing the P or J pipe under your sink that keeps large items from going all the way down the drain, and retrieving the item.

Soap Scum

Many soaps contain animal fat, which can create problems in your pipes over time, just like grease. The fat particles from soap can mix with hard minerals in water to create a nasty scum around the interior of your pipes.

Tree Roots

If you’ve checked your pipes for clogs and small objects and still come up empty-handed, the problem might be coming from outside the house. If your sink clogs frequently, tree roots could be the culprit. 

Roots growing underground will look for cracks in the sewer line and continue growing there, leading to a massively backed-up pipe that releases via a sanitary sewer overflow. If this is the case, call a professional plumber right away for sewer repair. 

What Do I Do if I Think My Drain Is Clogged?

If you’ve determined that your drain is clogged, there are a few things you can do to try to fix it:

  • Run the garbage disposal: Try running the garbage disposal to see if it can break anything up. If your garbage disposal overloads, turn it off and reset the circuit breaker in case of a tripped switch.
  • Use a plunger: Fill your sink with a few inches of water and try plunging for several minutes to loosen the clog.
  • Use a drain snake: A drain snake uses a manual crank to push a wire deep into the pipes to break up the clog. This might not work the first time you try it, so try it a few times.
  • Use an environmentally friendly drain cleaner: You might need some help dissolving the mass that is causing the clog. There are a lot of eco-friendly options on the market that are effective, less toxic than chemical drain cleaners, and don’t corrode your pipes over time.

Kitchen Sink Tips: How To Prevent Clogs

Once your sink is clear and free of clogs, you’ll want to keep it that way! Here are some tips for keeping your pipes running smoothly:

  • Run water while the disposal is on to clear all scraps.
  • Collect grease in a coffee can and throw it in the trash when full.
  • Be reasonable with how much food you put into the garbage disposal so you don’t overload it.
  • Clean out the disposal regularly.
  • Clear out pipe build-up weekly by pouring a baking soda and vinegar mixture down the drain. 

Call Iron Mountain Plumbing for Clogged Kitchen Sink Repair and Drain Cleaning

At Iron Mountain Plumbing, our experienced plumbing professionals know what causes the kitchen sink to clog, how to fix it, and how to prevent it. Call us at 435-334-5617 for all your plumbing needs, from clogged sinks to sewer repair. Our qualified professionals are here to assist you!

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