How to unclog a commercial sink?

unclog commercial sink

In a commercial setting, whether it be a factory or a restaurant, a clogged sink is more than just an inconvenience – it can actually be a financial liability. If you’re unable to drain water and waste correctly, your business – and earnings – could be put on hold as you wait for a repair.

Luckily, there are a number of easy ways that you can unclog a commercial sink yourself, and a number of preventative methods that can stop future blockages from occurring. Let’s take a look!

How to unclog a blocked commercial sink?

First of all, it’s important to know the signs of a clogged sink, especially when you’re working in a commercial setting where rapidity and a seamless workflow are key. Some of the most common signs of a blocked commercial sink include: 

  • Water isn’t draining correctly – if water is pooling around the sink, or taking longer than usual to drain fully, you can be guaranteed that you’re dealing with an internal blockage. 
  • Foul odours. If you notice any nasty or unpleasant odours whenever you use your sink, this is a sure sign that it’s clogged. 
  • Gurgling sounds. With a blocked sink, you may also notice gurgling sounds whenever you attempt to drain water – this is caused by a vacuum created by food and waste blockages.
To unclog a commercial sink yourself, we’d recommend taking a look at the following options:

Use a plunger

 While you might think that a plunger is only useful for bathroom blockages, this handy tool can also help unclog a backed-up sink. To use a plunger, load the sink with hot water and place the plunger over the draining area. Once in place, use steady movements to push down and lift up the plunger, as you would if you were unclogging a toilet. Continue this movement until you notice that the water starts to drain as normal once again. 

Pro tip: If your drain is severely clogged, using a plunger can require some heavy lifting – literally! The process is going to burn out your upper arm muscles pretty fast, so don’t forget to take a pause every now and then, or tackle the job with an able-bodied family member or friend.

Drain snaking

Drain snaking is often used in outdoor and residential plumbing, but it can also be used for unclogging a large commercial or industrial sink. If you’re not familiar with the concept, a drain snake is an extended piece of metal wire, which is inserted into a drain to dislodge stubborn blockages.

While an effective method, it’s incredibly important to use a drain snake carefully. You can find these in DIY shops and online, but don’t forget that they’re professional tools, and typically only used by licensed plumbers and drain repair services UK. If used incorrectly, this tool can end up damaging your pipe.

To use a drain snake, you’ll need to carefully insert the tip of the wire into the clogged drain (the “hook”) and push down gently until you reach the blockage in question. Once you’ve identified the source of the blockage, delicately move the snake in order to dislodge the blockage, before pulling it out carefully and disposing of it. Your drain should now function correctly, but if it still seems to be blocked, you might need to hire professional help rather than pushing the drain snake down further.

Use a commercial drain cleaner

For moderate drain blockages, some industrial or commercial-level drain cleaners can be useful. That being said, we’d recommend speaking with an expert before choosing one – depending on the size of your sink, certain drain cleaners might be too strong and could end up damaging the pipes if used too liberally. If you do settle on a drain cleaner, it’s important to pour small amounts down the drain at regular intervals – don’t pour it all down in one go.
How to prevent clogged sinks in commercial settings

So, what can you do to prevent future clogged sinks when working in a commercial environment? Here are our top tips:

Never use a drain to dispose of fats, oils, and other grease

Getting rid of deep-frying oil and general grease can be a pain, but there are plenty of easy ways to dispose of oils and fats without resorting to pouring them down the drain. As you probably already know, oil solidifies when it reaches room temperature, so the liquid that you pour down the drain will actually quickly harden, and end up obstructing your drain pipes. Aside from drain blockages, pouring oil down the drain can also contribute to the creation of humourosly-titled ‘fatbergs’. A fatberg is a lump of oil, fat, and other waste materials which can block not just your pipes, but the sewer lines in your town or city. In 2021, workers spent two weeks unclogging a 40 tonne fatberg in London, which had blocked the city’s sewer pipes. Had the fatberg increased in size, it could have caused dangerous sewer spillage into residential homes.
So, rather than pouring oil down the sink, store it in a container (once the oil is cold) and then throw the container away. Where possible (and if it is safe to do so) reuse frying oil.

Wipe down oily plates before washing up

As we mentioned above, you’re going to want to avoid letting oil into your plumbing system to avoid blockages. While disposing of fats safely is one way to do this, you also want to be careful when washing dishes; oil residue can linger on pots, pans, and crockery, and if you rinse your plates without wiping them down first, these fats can end up going down your drain and causing a blockage. To prevent this, use an absorbent cloth or sponge to wipe down your plates and kitchen utensils before placing them into the sink.

Use vinegar to clear early blockages

When it comes to blocked sinks, early action is key. If you notice that water is beginning to pool around your plughole, or notice any unpleasant odours when using the sink, take some vinegar and pour it down the sink – this can help to clear the debut of any blockages by dislodging any loose oil, fats, or debris. You can also use hot water to do this, and we’d recommend running hot water down your sink after use – this will help to prevent any lingering oil or grease from hardening and turning into a pesky blockage.

Ensure adequate kitchen hygiene

Oil and fats aren’t the only things that can end up blocking your sink – hair is also a common culprit. The best way to avoid hair blockages in your sink is to implement a strict policy when it comes to workplace hygiene – this can be done via the use of commercial hair nets, or by mandating that all kitchen workers tie up loose hair. Not only does this help prevent hair from getting tangled in your drain, but it’s also much more hygienic in a setting used for food preparation.