One of the essential functions of a kitchen sink is allowing you to do minor dishes. When it gets clogged, the next way to do the dishes would be the dishwasher. But while that may seem like an ideal solution, it may not even be an option.
You can’t run your dishwasher if your sink is clogged. A clogged sink signifies a blockage within the sink’s drain system. Since your dishwasher typically drains into the same system, running it would cause dirty water to back up into the dishwasher and the sink.
In the rest of this article, we’ll explore in greater detail why it’s not advisable to run a dishwasher with a clogged sink and what will happen if you do so. We’ll also take a look at some of the easiest and most effective ways to unclog a kitchen sink, so be sure to stick around to the end. Let’s get started.
Why You Shouldn’t Run Your Dishwasher With a Clogged Sink
To understand why it may not be a good idea to run your dishwasher when your sink is clogged, you need to have a rough idea of where the dirty water from your dishwasher goes.
In a typical kitchen plumbing system, dirty water from the dishwasher flows out through the sink’s drainage line. More often than not, a sink that won’t let dirty water drain away is a sign of a blockage in that drainage line.
So if you run your dishwasher with a clogged sink, you’ll leave the dirty water from the machine with nowhere to go because it’s usual pathway is already blocked, forcing it to back up into the sink and probably the dishwasher. If the appliance runs long enough, the sink will overflow, causing a mess that’ll be hard to clean.
Unclog the Kitchen Sink First
Now that you know why you shouldn’t run your dishwasher if your sink is clogged, let’s look at some of the DIY ways to get rid of a clog in the sink dishwasher drainage line.
The Plunger Method
A plunger is an ideal tool when the clog is located right under the sink’s drain. The goal is to use suction force to shred whatever is causing the blockage so dirty water can flow away.
Unclogging a sink with a plunger is pretty straightforward:
- If there’s stagnant water in your sink, get rid of it.
- Add hot water to the sink until it’s about halfway to help melt away fat clogs, if any.
- If your kitchen has a double bowl sink and only one is clogged, block the drain of the unclogged bowl with a washcloth to focus the plunger’s pressure on the clog.
- Place the plunger over the drain of the clogged sink and work it for about a minute.
- Remove the plunger and check whether the sink is draining again.
If using a plunger doesn’t cut it, try a different method.
The Baking Soda and Vinegar Method
Before you use baking soda and vinegar, you’ll need to clear your sink. If there’s stagnant water, empty it into a container. Also, wear gloves to protect your skin from chemical reactions.
With those two important items taken care of, follow these steps to unclog your sink:
- Fill a cup with baking soda and empty it into the sink’s drain.
- Using a spoon or a spatula, force the baking soda into the openings until there’s none left on the surface.
- Add a cupful of vinegar to the drain and immediately cover it with a sink stopper.
- Give the solution about five minutes to work the clog.
- Remove the sink stopper and pour boiling water directly into the drain to help melt away any remaining fatty clogs.
Mixing vinegar and baking soda produces a chemical reaction that’s violent enough to break most clog types without causing any damage to your pipes.
The Snake Method
The snake method is named after the primary tool used, the cable auger (commonly referred to as a drain snake). If you don’t own one, get the Arctic Eagle Drain Snake on Amazon. It’s reusable, pocket friendly, and gets the job done. Other than that, you’ll only need basic plumbing tools.
Here are the steps:
- If you have a sink base cabinet, open it and position a bucket under the hoses to collect potential spills.
- Locate the trap and detach it. Use channel locks or a pipe wrench to unscrew any PVC pipe that cannot be unscrewed by hand.
- Empty the trap and inspect it for the clog. If you notice anything that may cause a blockage, clean the trap and reattach it. Next, run hot water to check whether the sink has been unclogged. If not, proceed to the steps below.
- Detach the horizontal hose connecting the pipe stub-out (AKA the pipe end sticking out from the wall) to the trap. Gently push the drain snake into the pipe stub-out until it meets resistance.
- Pull out 18″ (46 cm) of the drain snake from the pipe before tightening the locking screw.
- Rotate the handle clockwise as you push forward to steer the drain snake deep into the plumbing. If you feel the snake catch on something, rotate the handle anticlockwise and pull out. Put it back and see if you meet resistance again. If you do, repeat the process until the clog is shredded.
- Remove the drain snake from the pipe stub out. Reattach the pipe you removed in step 4 above and reinstall the trap. Avoid tightening the plastic parts too much because that may crack them.
- Run hot water to check whether the sink has been unclogged. If it’s draining slowly, it means there are small remnants of the clog. Dislodge them with a plunger.
That does it for today’s post. In summary, we’ve established that you shouldn’t run your dishwasher with a clogged sink because when the sink doesn’t let water drain away, it means that there’s a blockage within its drainage line. Since the dishwasher empties dirty water into the same line, running it with a clogged sink would cause water to back up into the sink and the appliance.