A slow-moving drain usually means the drain line is obstructed somewhere and the water can’t flow as it should.  You should try to clear the drain when you notice the problem as it may be a simple partial clog or a sign of a small problem that may get much worse if not taken care of soon. This may just be a common issue of some food particles stuck in the kitchen plumbing or in the bathroom it maybe some hair and soap scum that has clumped together, however the alternatives are it’s a bigger clog further down the plumbing from roots, deteriorating pipes, or a large amount of debris buildup which are a bigger issue and if spotted early can minimize the damage and cost of repairs.  

There are a few simple things to try to unclog drains before calling a plumber. A few things of caution first: 

  • If you have old or damaged pipes, even plunging can cause enough pressure to burst pipes. 
  • Not all chemicals are safe to pour down the drain, even if they state they are for that purpose. Not all plumbing systems are the made same materials and you may have plumbing that will break down with harsh chemicals.  
  • Don’t put your hand down a garbage disposal to clear a clog.  

Check the sink stopper or drain  

A bathroom sink usually has a stopper that will close to allow the sink or tub to fill up and these can get stuck full of hair. These sometimes can be lifted right out, or they are attached under the sink by a pivot arm rod which can be unhooked or disconnected via a nut and allow the stopper to be lifted out.  

A drain such as the bathroom tub or kitchen sink might not have anything that debris can get a hold of, however there are tools such as a plastic drain stick with hooks that you can shove down the drain and swirl around to get the debris hooked and pull the stick out to clear.  

Simple household cleaner 

A simple non harsh chemical mixture is baking soda and vinegar – just don’t mix above the sink. If you have ever seen or heard of the homemade volcano science project you will know what these two can do when mixed. Start with a clear dry sink and pour about a half cup of baking soda down the drain and wait a few seconds for the power to reach the debris and settle on it or in it and then pour down around the same amount of vinegar. The mixture will create foam and hopefully either break up the clog or push it loose and down. You can leave this mixture in for about 10 minutes to work its way through the clog and then flush with boiling water and try again if it doesn’t work the first time. The boiling water may also help if the clog is caused by some grease and other debris. 

Plunging the drain 

There are smaller plungers designed to be used in sinks. Try to create a seal with water in the sink and then make a few push and pull motions while not breaking the seal and check if cleared. If not repeat a few times to ensure the clog is not going to be cleared by a plunger and will need a stronger solution.  

Clear the drain trap 

This one is more advanced and if you are uncomfortable with home repairs you should call a plumber. If you break something in attempting this, the sink will be unusable until a plumber can make the repair.  The drain trap is the area with the bend in the plumbing under your sink. If you ever drop a ring down the sink with the water off, this is the area the ring will sit. This area is designed to be removable and should be easy enough to disconnect and clear any clog or debris stuck inside. First make sure you have a bucket underneath to catch any water remaining in the trap. If you are having difficulty in loosening the fittings, please take caution or call a plumber as stripping the threading can cause water to go everywhere after reattaching and turning the water on.  

After you have cleared the clog be sure to keep regular routine maintenance to prevent future clogs.  

  • Pouring very hot water down the tub drain will help remove soap scum.  
  • Don’t put large amounts of food debris down the sink such as potatoes as they will stick to the sides of the drain. 
  • Don’t pour grease down the drain as it cools it can get stuck and create a clog 
  • Keep up with regular drain clearings using a tool like a drain stick.