Kitchens and bathrooms: A plumber's approach


London plumber

Plumbing in the kitchen

Plumbing issues in the kitchen tend to focus around the sink. The pipe from the kitchen sink gets clogged because dirty washing up water is full of grease and debris, which can collect and form a blockage.

Using a simple steel strainer over the plughole can keep big pieces of debris from being washed down the pipe. Running hot water after you’ve done the washing up, and pouring a cup of vinegar down the pipe once a month will also help break up greasy deposits and keep the pipe flowing freely. Proprietary drain cleaners or soda crystals can also help shift a stubborn blockage.

Sometimes solid objects will be washed down the sink accidentally, and in most kitchens the U-bend underneath the sink can be simply removed, cleared and washed, and put back in place with no more complicated equipment than a bucket and a wrench.

If you have a dishwasher, get into the habit of checking the salt and rinse aid regularly, and also clean the food trap at least once a week. Not only will this help to keep the dishwasher working efficiently; it will also prevent bad odours from developing.

In the Bathroom

If the basin or bath is blocked or draining slowly, bail out most (but not all) of the water with a bowl or jug. Hold a rag/cloth firmly over the overflow opening, and place a plunger over the drain hole. There needs to be enough water in the basin or bath to cover the head of the plunger. Pump the plunger up and down rapidly to clear the blockage. After clearing the blockage it’s a good idea to clean out the trap.

Cleaning out a waste trap (or u-bend)

Bail out as much of the water as you can. The trap is below the sink or basin. Place a bowl underneath the trap to catch any water and unscrew the joints. Clean the trap thoroughly and replace it, checking that the seals are in place and that all the joints are screwed up tightly. If more than one fitting is blocked
The problem may be in the soil stack or main drain. Blockages are usually caused by the build up of fat, soap scum and hair etc. Washing the wastes through with vinegar, or hot water and soda crystals, on a regular basis can help to stop blockages forming. But if you think the soil stack or main drain is blocked, call

Clearing a blocked toilet

It’s not lovely work, perhaps, but most toilets get blocked because something like a toilet freshener, nappy or other unusual object has been put down them.

Put on some rubber gloves and have a go at clearing the blockage yourself. If the pan is already full of water, remove some of it into a suitable container using a jug or bowl. Push a mop head attached to a handle, or a plunger to the bottom of the pan and pump up and down vigorously about 10 times. This creates a vacuum and pressure, which may shift the blockage.

You may need to repeat the process several times before the toilet flushes normally. Do not use plungers with a metal disk, as these may chip or crack the toilet bowl. Best thing to do is avoid putting anything unusual down the toilet! If the blockage won’t clear, an plumber will be able to help.