Your sink arguably sees the most action daily compared to other plumbing and water appliances, including your tub, toilet, and washing machine. From cleaning your teeth and washing your hands to hair brushing or shaving in the mirror directly above it, the water basin encounters plenty of items that can fall down the drain.
Whether blockages derive from these or soap scum, hair, and dirt buildups within your pipes, you may find the water coming up from the bathroom sink drain. Works Plumbing, Pacifica’s drain cleaning experts, describes common causes of bathroom sink drain clogs and backups in the paragraphs below. Read on to learn more about why your bathroom sink isn’t draining.
Reasons Behind a Backed-Up Sink
A Clogged Pop-Up Drain
When objects fall down the sink drain, the first thing to clog is the pop-up drain assembly. Hair can wrap around the rod underneath the top stopper part or objects can fall between the narrow spaces surrounding the rod. So if you’re noticing poor drainage and sink backups, you probably have to clean the pop-up drain.
Begin by turning off the water from the sink shut-off valve. Follow the ball rod that stems over the faucet to the metal strip below your sink and pinch the spring clip that attaches the clevis to the rod. Next, remove the ball rod from the drain pipe and remove and clean the stopper thoroughly before soaking it and the rod in vinegar to remove excess grime.
Finally, reinstall the stopper and rod before attaching the clevis and testing the water drainage. If the problem isn’t alleviated, consider using a plunger and drain cleaners to loosen any debris, or call a professional drain cleaner.
If heavier or compact items like jewelry fall past the pop-up drain assembly, they’ll land in the P-trap beneath the sink. Because the pipe curves in a U-shape, the items rest at the bottom of the slope, allowing water to pass by without sweeping it into the main drain line.
While this is beneficial since it lets residents retrieve their items by unscrewing the fixture, it commonly causes a clogged sink drain. You’ll also know it’s a clogged P-trap that is causing that water coming up from the bathroom sink drain if an unusual odor stems from your plumbing or you hear the sink gurgling.
Fix these signs by turning off the water supply and placing a bucket under the U-shaped pipe to catch the excess water that the curve holds. Loosen the nut with a wrench to unfasten the piece before cleaning and replacing it.
Not All Sink Backups Originate from the Sink
As you already know, numerous plumbing fixtures throughout your home connect to the municipal sewer line. However, rather than having dozens of individual pipes reaching from your home to this outside source, creating a maze, each of these smaller drain lines connects to a main drain line beneath your structure.
Because of this blueprint, it’s easy to think of your plumbing system as a tree. Each sink, toilet, shower, tub, dishwasher, and washing machine’s individual piping act as the branches attaching to a main line or trunk. This main line then empties into the septic tank system or municipal sewer line, traveling to the nearby treatment plant for sanitizing.
Unfortunately, the main sewer line backs up too, but it takes more than some hair or a child’s toy falling down the drain. These pipes have a larger diameter to retain the wastewater from numerous smaller pipes simultaneously. Therefore, it usually takes wild tree roots, corroded and collapsed pipes, or a slow buildup of soap scum, toilet paper, and other smaller debris over time to create blockages.
When the main sewer line clogs, the wastewater has nowhere to go but back up the smaller or secondary drain lines and into your toilet bowl, sink, or tub. That means water coming up from the bathroom sink drain could be flushed water carrying human waste and bacteria, soap scum from your showers, and food particles from your downstairs sink. Remove this health risk with a call to an expert.
Do Wet Vents Cause Backups?
Like with main sewer line clogs, a wet vent may cause used water from other fixtures to back up your sink.
If your toilet or another appliance doesn’t come within 10 feet of the main soil stack, the stack cannot successfully remove odors from that fixture for water flow and pipe drainage. Therefore, a plumber may have attached that fixture to another, like your sink, for separate ventilation when they installed your system, creating a wet vent. If the toilet attached to this wet vent clogs, your sink backs with toilet waste.
Alleviating the Issue
Since multiple issues affect how your water drains, finding the source is necessary to alleviate the concern. First, when does your bathroom sink back up? Maybe it’s an issue each time your dishwasher or washing machine drains or whenever you flush your toilet, which could indicate they both filter out into a common fitting, backing up simultaneously.
If this is the case, fill your sink basin with water, and while the water is running, use a plunger to try clearing the drain. On the other hand, if there’s no correlation between your sink backing up each time you use another water fixture, it may just be a simple piping blockage that might disappear with some dry plunging or snaking. However, to know exactly what you’re dealing with, call a professional.
A plumbing expert typically uses a drain snake, which is a long, metal cable that they’ll feed into your toilet or another drain to grind up and clear away blockages. They’ll also inspect your pipes thoroughly by also snaking a video camera through them, looking for cracks, deterioration, and collapses that’ll affect water flow to and from your home.
Depending on the type and condition of piping you currently have, sectional or full replacements may not only prove necessary but long overdue. For instance, weaker PVC piping only lasts 50 years with care but could fall apart faster with constant pressure from clogs and other issues. More sturdy materials include copper, which lasts about 80 years, and brass, cast iron, and steel, which lasts up to 100 with proper maintenance.
DIY Preventative Methods for the Future
Have you just remedied your plumbing concern or are anticipating future problems? If so, you’re probably looking into preventative methods to ensure water coming up from the bathroom sink drain will never be your concern.
The best DIY method includes making sure debris of any kind doesn’t fall down your sink drain. For example, if you’re used to combing your hair in front of the sink mirror, hair strands fall into the basin and roll down into the drain with water. Instead of allowing it to cause a pop-up drain issue, comb your hair further away from the sink or push down the stopper and clean the strands before opening it again.
Similarly, don’t wash down dirt from watered plants or face or body powder (including makeup products) since these substances that are difficult to wash away, turn gooey in the pipes, and build up easily. Pencil shavings, pieces of cotton from swabs or makeup-removing cotton pads, and other smaller materials also contribute to clogs, so dispose of them correctly by tossing them in the trash.
Likewise, don’t flush wipes, large amounts of thick toilet paper, diapers, or feminine products like sanitary napkins. Rather than breaking down, they’ll absorb water and expand within your pipes, contributing to backflow. Sticking to flushing only organic matter and tissue or thin toilet paper keeps your secondary pipes and main drain open.
Professional Preventative Methods
If greenery, including shrubs and large trees, surround your home, long roots looking for moisture could find their way into your sewer system and clog the line. When this occurs, call a professional to break up the roots by snaking them and flushing them out of the system. You can also prevent this if you’re planning on doing some landscaping by removing trees around the sewer line or planting new ones far from it.
Every one and a half to two years, let a skilled plumbing contractor inspect and maintain your sewer and drain lines. They’ll catch clogs before they cause backflow and remedy split or cracked pipes so you won’t have to pay for costlier repairs down the line.
For Plumbing that Works!
With water coming up from your bathroom sink drain, the last thing you need is an inexperienced plumber who doesn’t know what they’re doing. At Works Plumbing, our honest, hard-working, and considerate contractors work around the clock to provide a full range of services, from dealing with a dirty, broken, or smelly sink drain to sewer and sump pump repairs.
Let our five-star plumbing company with over 14 years of experience help with your plumbing problems. Call us at Works Plumbing at (650) 761-9164 to request services today in Pacifica, CA!