Trust me. If I can unclog a sink, you can too.
The first thing you need to do is buy a plumber's snake. The one I have looks like this:
|Note the thumbscrew, which is the silver thing located near the end of the black tip. You'll need this later.|
|The handle is the black thing sticking out of the top. You'll need this later, too.|
Open up the doors under the sink to expose the pipe. The elbow pipe or "trap" is visible.
|The Trap Under the Bathroom Sink May Hold the Clog|
Loosen the two collars holding the trap in place. You shouldn't need any tools to do this. Remove the pipe. At this point, water may rush out, especially if there was standing water in the sink basin. Stick your bucket under the open pipe to catch it.
Look inside the curved pipe. You may see the clog. If so, remove it. Replace the pipe and run water down the drain to rinse away any residue and make sure you got it all. Lucky you!
Using the Plumber's Snake
If the clog isn't here, you'll need to use the plumber's snake.
Loosen the thumb screw and pull out about a foot or two of the metal snake. Insert it into the pipe, pushing it along until you meet resistance. With any luck, you'll hit the clog without too much effort. If the snake hits resistance, don't assume it's the clog. You may have just come to a bend in the pipe.
Tighten the thumb screw and turn the handle quickly. The snake will turn and make it's way through whatever is there. If it's the clog, it should break it up, push it along or grab it. Pushing the clog along is okay. You can usually push it to a wider pipe where it will flow out of the house without a problem.
It may take a few minutes to push the snake past the obstruction, but keep at it. Once you get past it, keep going. Push the snake in further, until it stops, turn it until it's free, then push it along again. Once it moves freely for several minutes, you can start pulling it back out.
As you remove the snake, wipe it with the rag to remove moisture and anything gross that it picked up along the way.
Replace the trap. For me, this is the hardest part. It's a challenge to line the pipe up right and get the collars screwed on evenly. If it's not just so, it'll leak. Even a small leak can mean you have to do it again.
Run water down the drain to be sure the clog is gone. If not, snake it again. This time, you can put the snake directly in the drain. It's tricky to get it past the trap, but it's doable.
When to Use Liquid Drain Cleaner
If you've snaked it several times and the drain is still clogged, you may want to get some Liquid Plumber. That should break up tough clogs, if a clog is what you are dealing with. I think this is a last resort. Why use chemicals if you don't have to?
Always be careful with bottles of drain cleaner in the house, especially if you have small children. Buy it only when you need it, store it on a high shelf and use it as soon as possible. Dispose of the empty bottle right away.
When to Call a Plumber
If you've snaked the drain several times, used Liquid Plumber and the drain is still clogged, it's time to call a professional plumber. You may have a bigger problem than a clog. The best thing to do is get it taken care of as soon as possible before it becomes an even bigger problem.
A Word of Caution
It really is best to use a snake before you use a liquid drain cleaner. Not only will you likely avoid having a nasty chemical in your house, but snaking a drain that's got drain cleaner in it can be hazardous. You'll need to wear gloves and approach it with caution.
Anyone can learn how to snake a bathroom sink drain pipe. A plumber's snake is a basic tool that any home owner should have. Learn how to use it and you'll save hundreds of dollars in plumber's fees.