How to Snake a Bathroom Sink Drain

Bathroom sink running faucet
low Decor / Getty Images
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to $50

There are few things as annoying as a clog that suddenly stops up the whole sink, or a slow-building clog that makes the sink drain so slowly, you might as well have poured in molasses. The good news is that you likely don't need to call in a plumber for this. Snaking a bathroom sink drain can be easy with the right tools and instructions.

Even better, you might not need a snake at all. If the cause of the clog is located before the pipe goes into the wall, you may be able to clear it without having to use a drain snake. The first step is to find out where the clog is.

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Watch Now: How to Snake a Drain

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Top snake
  • Gloves
  • Small bucket

Materials

  • Old rag

Instructions

  1. Check the Pop-Up Assembly

    Hair and build-up can easily get wrapped around the pop-up stopper and cause the bathroom sink to drain slowly or stop up completely. Remove the pop-up stopper by disconnecting it from under the sink. Then pull it out from the top of the sink. Clean the stopper and re-install it to see if this cleared your clog. If not, go on to the next step.

    Bathroom pop up removal
    Aaron Stickley
  2. Check the Trap

    Disconnect the bathroom sink drain trap and make sure it is clear. Two nuts are holding the trap in place. Unscrew both nuts and pull the trap straight down to remove it. Put a small bucket under the bathroom sink drain to catch any water that spills as you remove the trap.

    Check the trap for anything that may be causing the stoppage and clear it out. Sometimes things like toothpaste caps, change, or hairbands can end up in the drain trap. Simply removing them is enough to clear the clog.

    Bathroom trap
    Aaron Stickley
  3. Check the Trap Arm

    If nothing was obstructing the flow of water in the pop-up or the drain trap, then the last place to look before using a snake is the trap arm. Sometimes the trap arm is glued into place, but the majority are fastened with a nut that sits in the back toward the wall.

    Loosen this nut and pull the trap arm straight out from the connection closest to the wall. You should now be able to look into the drain pipe and see if there is a visible blockage in the pipe before it goes down the wall. If there is any obstruction, remove it. If there is no obstruction, you'll have to snake the bathroom sink drain.

    Trap arm
    Aaron Stickley
  4. Snake the Drain

    With the trap and trap arm removed, you can access the drain pipe to snake the bathroom sink drain. To run the drain snake, position yourself with the snake close to the opening of the drain pipe. For a bathroom sink drain, you should be fine using a top snake unless it is a particularly tough clog.

    Wear appropriate gloves. Insert the end of the snake cable into the drain pipe. If there is another sink directly behind the one you are snaking, shine a flashlight into the pipe to visually make sure that the snake goes down the wall instead of across to the other sink trap. 

    Feed the cable into the pipe slowly while keeping firm pressure on it as you operate the machine. Let the snake do the work of clearing the clog.

    Tip

    You usually won't have to go more than 10 inches in depth to clear the clog. However, the depth will depend on the location of the clog.

    Snake bathroom sink drain
    Aaron Stickley
  5. Check the Drain

    After snaking the bathroom sink drain, put the trap and pop-up back together and check to see if the stoppage is clear by running water from the faucet. If the drain isn't clear, you may have to snake it again and go further down the line to clear the stoppage.

    Once the bathroom sink drain is unclogged, check for leaks at all the joints by filling the sink and draining it all at once.

    High Angle View Of Water Running From Faucet In Sink
    Steffi Kamp / EyeEm / Getty Images

Tips When Snaking Your Drain

  • Make sure your snake is close to the drain. The more slack you have, the harder it will be to control. This can be tricky because of the limited space, but the closer you keep the snake body to the drain, the less chance the cable will tangle up.
  • Keep a rag handy and clean off the cable as you pull it back. The sludge on the snake as you extract it can make a big mess in the bathroom.
  • Small power snakes are cheap to purchase and you can rent them for around $25 for a few hours. The snake drums that can be hooked up to a power drill are very reasonable to buy.