How to Fix a Bathroom Sink That Won’t Drain

Standing Water in Your Sink

It’s great to have a pool. The one outside where you can sit and sip Pina Coladas. Not so great when the pool of water is in your bathroom sink or you when you have a slow draining bathroom sink, not clogged. 

This is more than a nuisance. It’s an indication there’s a problem with your plumbing system.

Fortunately, in most cases standing water that won’t drain isn’t a huge problem and one you probably remedy yourself. If you are finding water in your sink staying at about two inches high and not draining in a few minutes, more than likely you have a clog

Clogs are pretty, well, yucky and not pleasant to deal with. As professional plumbers, we deal with clogs all the time. You can, too. At least up until a certain point. Results may vary due to varying comfort levels with tools and cramped spaces.

There are a number of ways you can unclog your bathroom sink:

      • Check the sink plunger for foreign objects
      • Use a drain cleaner
      • Use a plunger
      • Use a drain snake in the sinkhole
      • Remove the drain trap
      • Use a drain snake in the pipes
      • When to call a plumber

Before we get into those, though, let’s take a step back and suggest something that may avoid having to do any of these things: preventative maintenance.

Preventative Maintenance

There are a few things you can do to avoid clogs that could cause sink water to pool into your bathroom sink. 

If your drain stopper doesn’t already contain a screen, buy a mesh screen to place over the drain. Make a regular habit of cleaning both the screen as well as anything that may have escaped into the sink drain itself. An added step to remove germs you can’t see but most likely accumulate over time is to periodically soak the screen in soapy water overnight.

Don’t wash hair and other debris down the drain, that’s a sure way clogs form. Instead, use a paper towel to wipe up the hair and dispose of it in your garbage. And don’t use more soap than you need to. Soap residue can contribute to clogged drains.

Flush the bathroom sink drain (in fact, you should do this for all your drains) with hot water about once a month. Make sure you’ve cleaned the drain first, otherwise you are flushing down the very stuff that is going to contribute to a clog. 

But, if preventative measures fail and you do experience a clogged bathroom sink, you’ve come to the right place. Read on.

Check the Sink Plunger

The bathroom sink is used to shave, brush teeth and comb hair. Stuff gets into the sink. So it is no surprise if hair and old toothpaste builds up in the sink plunger and you have a wash basin clogged.   

So, first thing you should do if you have a bathroom sink that isn’t draining is to lift up the sink plunger and see if there is an accumulation of hair or grime. The next step is to clear the plunger of all foreign objects and run the water to see if you now have a properly draining sink.

If not, read on.

Use a Drain Cleaner

There are a number of commercially available chemical drain cleaners on the market. However, we don’t recommend them.  Most commercial drain cleaners contain chemicals that are bad for your pipes, and bad for you. 

There are bacterial drains in granular or liquid form. The bacteria consumes organic matter (yeah the bacteria actually eats it) that can contribute to clogs. 

However, in most cases, you can make your own homemade drain cleaning solution that works just as well, and more safely.

Here’s how to make an effective drain cleaner using substances you can find in your kitchen, not in your hazardous waste cabinet. 

Boil a kettle of water. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Let it set. Pour the boiled water down the drain. Let the solution sit for ten minutes before using your sink again. 

This should break up any build up that is down your bathroom sinks drain.

If not, you need to escalate.

Plunge the Bathroom Sink

Every household should have a plunger. If you don’t, stop reading, go out and buy one. They’re a handy tool for bathroom sink drain clogs. Actually, buy two, a sink plunger and a plunger for your toilet, for what should be obvious reasons.  Then come back. Well wait.

Run water in the sink until the water pools. Leave an inch or two of water; that provides the plunger with some pressure to apply to the clog. Put your suction plunger over the drain hole and push down and up. Wait to see if the water drains.

Try this a couple of times. If water continues to pool in the sink, then you need to get a little more serious. 

Using a Drain Snake

Remember when you went out to buy the sink plunger? Hope you got a drain snake while you were at it. Because you’ll need it for this step.

Force the auger down the bathroom sink drain. Extend the auger till it hits the clog. Once you feel a stop, then you have found the clog. Turn the drain snake to break up the clog; this might take a few attempts, but it should relieve the blockage in your drain.

But if it doesn’t, let’s try something else.

Cleanout the Drain Trap

If the above methods were not effective, then your clog is wedged deeper in the pipes. 

Look under your sink to find the underlying pipes and locate the drain pipe. It has a shape like a P or a U. Place a bucket under this pipe. The drain pipe is likely to contain water, so when you disconnect it, you want the bucket there to catch it.

That’s right. You are going to disconnect it. If you find that a little scary, do not pass Go and instead go directly to the section where you call your trust plumber.    

Still with us? Okay, let’s get started.

Place your plumber wrench around the drain pipe rings and and turn counterclockwise to loosen.

(You do have a proper plumber wrench, right? No? Maybe you had better call a plumber. If you do have plumber wrench, please continue reading.) 

Remove the drain trap.  Take it somewhere you can dispose of a mess and clean it out. Once you have cleaned out the trap pipe, reassemble it onto the sink and run your water again. This should work to clear the clog in your bathroom sink drain.

Unless you have an even more serious clog. Read on.

Use a Drain Snake In The Pipes

With the drain trap removed, insert your drain snake into the wall pipe under your sink. Twist the auger around the pipe to see if you can feel anything obstructing the pipe. Gently push against anything in the way. Once you hit something, then proceed to snake the clog.

If that doesn’t solve your problem with a bathroom sink that doesn’t drain, we’re out of ideas. Now you really do need to call a professional plumber.

When to Call a Plumber

If the above approaches haven’t worked to clear your bathroom sink drain—or you just don’t want to crawl under you sink, you don’t have the tool, or you just don’t consider yourself particularly handy—a professional plumber can diagnose the source of the problem and quickly remove the clog(s) in bathroom sinks or replace the bathroom sink drain entirely.

By the way, if you’ve tried all the above approaches and still nothing has worked, don’t despair. Severely clogged drains can be frustrating even for experienced do-it-yourselfers. And if you’ve done everything we recommended and still haven’t cleared the clogs, this is beyond do-it-yourself repair. 

Bathroom plumbing is a speciality of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Bay Area; our plumbers are more than capable with any of your residential plumbing needs including a clogged drain, bathroom sink leaking, bathroom sink drain leaking, a leaky faucet, broken pipes, poor water pressure, leaking drain pipe under bathroom sink, and much more.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing employs certified technicians who are quick, experienced, licensed and reasonable. Our trained and experienced plumbers have seen it all: every possible way plumbing fixtures may have been wrongly installed, all kinds of corroded or missing parts most people wouldn’t think to look for and how clogs can appear in unusual places. In some scenarios, people want help to install a bathroom sink drain.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and our licensed plumbers proudly offer an on-time guarantee and a 100 percent customer satisfaction guarantee to meet all your plumbing service needs. Because we are locally owned and operated, our plumbers are familiar with the plumbing challenges you face. If there’s any delay in providing your service, we pay!

We answer your service calls 24 hours a day at 800-259-7705, or online to request an appointment.