If you’ve noticed that the water in your RV kitchen sink is draining slowly (or not at all), you’ve likely got a clogged RV kitchen sink drain. A clogged RV sink can be a major inconvenience, but with a few common items and a little bit of elbow grease, clearing a clog in an RV sink is most likely a problem you can resolve yourself.
We’ve covered clogs on this blog before. We’ve posted on how to unclog an RV shower drain, how to unclog an RV toilet, and how to unclog an RV black tank. Today’s post is a guide to unclogging your RV kitchen (or bathroom) sink before the problem gets out of hand and creates a real mess.
- 1) How to Repair a Clogged RV Kitchen Sink
- 2) Steps to Clear a Clogged RV Kitchen Sink
- 3) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews & Giveaways
How to Repair a Clogged RV Kitchen Sink
When an RV sink is clogged or draining slowly, it’s important to clear the clog as soon as possible so that the problem doesn’t become worse. RV plumbing systems can clog for different reasons, but the most likely reason is food particles, hair, grease, and other debris that have built up in the drain pipe over time. Avid boondockers know that extreme water conservation can lead to more buildup in drains (toothpaste, food particles, etc).
In some cases, an RV’s gray water tank can be so full that water and food particles back up into the RV. Grey tanks will hold liquid to the top of the tank until it backs up… usually into the shower (the lowest drain). The answer to this problem of course is to dump the holding tanks.
However, when an RV sink gets clogged, that’s a different matter.
Tools/Materials Needed to Unclog an RV Sink
Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to keep on hand for cleaning clogs in your RV sinks. Depending on how stubborn the clog is and where it’s located, you’re unlikely to need everything we’re listing below. But if you’ve got a tough clog that hasn’t been dealt with right away, you could find yourself needing a combination of the items listed.
A small sink plunger is often all that’s needed to dislodge minor clogs. This toilet plunger works great for sinks, too. (Just be sure to clean it between uses!)
- OPTIMAL PRESSURE: You'll be amazed at how well your new professional bellows plunger works. This plunger specializes at unclogging stubborn obstacles...
- EASY TO USE: This bellows plunger utilizes the water in your toilet to aid in plunging and provide maximum plunging power with minimal effort. No need...
Baking soda is a natural abrasive that can help break down grease and grime.
- America's #1 trusted Baking Soda brand
- Versatile, effective and affordable solution for over 170 years
White vinegar is an effective cleaning agent and reacts with baking soda to help clear clogs.
- One 32 fl oz bottle of Heinz All Natural Distilled White Vinegar 5% Acidity
- Made through boiling and condensation from a fermented mixture of American-grown corn and water
Snake or Auger
If the clog is stubborn or located deeper in the plumbing system, a snake or auger can be used to carefully try to dislodge the clog. A nylon drain snake is preferable as it presents less risk of damaging the RV’s plumbing. But in the case of a serious clog, an auger like the one below can be used.
- [Upgraded Nylon Anti-break Sink Snake] Not like the old version plastic snake drain removal tool, this drain clog remover adopted nylon material which...
- [30 Inches Sink Snake for Deeper Drain Unclog] According to the International Residential Code, the standard distance between a kitchen sink drain and...
- 25 Ft of Flexible Steel Wire Easier to Reach Difficult Clogs: This professional plumbing snake drains auger comes with 25 ft of heavy-duty spring...
- Easy Operation and Detailed Operating Instructions: The sink auger has an ergonomic pistol grip that simplifies use and makes for more comfortable...
There are a number of drain cleaners on the market. While you’ll want to try to steer clear of using them unless they’re absolutely necessary, sometimes they’re needed to get the job done. If that’s the case in your situation, drain cleaners like the ones below may be very helpful.
This first works through standing water, and the second (foamer) product is best for removing gunk that slows the draining process.
- One 2 count pack of Drano Max Gel Clog Remover allows you to be ready to conquer tough clogs whenever they happen
- The thick bleach formula in this sink and shower drain clog remover gets to work in as quick as 7 minutes, removing hair, soap scum and other gunky...
- One 17 fl oz bottle of Drano Dual-Force Foamer Clog Remover reaches where ordinary liquid cleaners can't to deep clean and remove clogs
- Powerful foaming formula fills the whole pipe and thoroughly clears its walls, dissolving gunk and removing sources of odor
You’ll need a bucket to drain the sink and to catch any water or gunk. This one’s great for RVs because it’s collapsible.
- Dimensions are 13 by 13.2 by 9.6 inches when expanded; 10 liter/2.6 gallon capacity; Collapses down to 13.2 by 2 inches for transportation and...
- Multipurpose bucket can be used around the house, in the kitchen, laundry room, or garage; You can also take it outside to the beach, camping,...
Common Household Tools
In the worst-case scenario, you may need to dismantle the drain plumbing under the sink, remove the P-trap, and clean it out. Fortunately, most RV drain plumbing is fairly easily accessible and often uses screw-on connections that can be loosened by hand. In the event that yours doesn’t, you may need an expandable wrench. Just be sure to use it carefully!
Note: Have your bucket ready to catch any water that’s above the point you plan to disconnect.
Hot water can be helpful in flushing out loosened debris. Note that we’re not suggesting the use of boiling water. Hot tap water should do the trick in many cases.
Steps to Clear a Clogged RV Kitchen Sink
Take the following steps to try to clear the clog in your RV sink.
Remove Excess Water
Start by bailing out any standing water in the sink using a small container or cup and your bucket. This will make it easier to work on the clog and prevent overflow as you work.
Plunge the Sink
With the sink emptied, place the plunger over the drain and create a tight seal. Push down and then pull up quickly, creating suction. Repeat this motion several times to try and dislodge the clog. Hopefully, you’ll hear a gurgling sound or see the water start to drain. If not, move on to the next step. Note: If the sink isn’t too full of water, bailing it out first may not be needed.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
This is a homemade, eco-friendly solution that often works to dislodge common clogs. Begin by pouring about half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow this with about a cup of white vinegar. The mixture will bubble and fizz. Allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes as it works to break down the clog.
Follow with Hot Water
After letting the baking soda and vinegar mixture sit for a while, carefully pour some hot water down the drain to help flush away the broken-down clog and any remaining debris.
Try a Drain Cleaner
If the clog still hasn’t cleared, you may need to try using a commercial drain cleaner such as those listed above. Follow the directions on the container of the brand you’ve chosen, and use it with caution. (Eye protection and gloves are a good idea here.)
Use a Snake or Auger
If the clog still won’t let loose after the steps above have been taken, it’s time to bring out the serious tools. Slowly and carefully insert a plumbing snake or auger into the drain. (If using an auger, turn the handle clockwise.) This will help to physically break up and dislodge the clog. Keep turning the snake until you feel it move freely through the pipes, indicating that the clog has been cleared.
Dismantle the Plumbing Under the Sink
If you’ve not had success in clearing the clog after taking all of the steps noted above, you may have no choice but to resort to removing and cleaning the P-trap under the sink. Use the tools required (if any) for your setup, and be sure to place your bucket under the sink so that when the water, clog, and related gunk come pouring out, you’ll have something right there to catch as much as possible. Then, clean the pipes out and reassemble everything.
Test the Drain
After completing all the steps necessary to clear your sink’s clog, turn on the faucet and let the water run for a few minutes. If the sink drains smoothly, you’ve successfully unclogged your RV’s sink. If it’s still slow or clogged, you may need to repeat the steps above or consider contacting a professional for further assistance.
While there may not be a big difference between cleaning a clogged RV kitchen sink and one in a sticks-and-bricks house, RV plumbing may be less robust. Take your time and take care not to create a self-inflicted wound (like damaging the RV’s plumbing).
Once your clogged RV kitchen sink is unclogged, you may want to whiten it up:
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