Sink not Draining But Pipes Clear

If you have a sink not draining but pipes are clear, you could be at the end of your rope!  Never fear, you have a few options you can try before calling in a professional. 

Let’s save you a few bucks and find out how to deal with a sink not draining but pipes are clear below! 

sink not draining but pipes are clear
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Sink Not Draining But Pipes are Clear 

Sinks usually have problems draining for a few reasons.  

  1. P Trap Clog 
  2. Air Vent is Clogged 
  3. Pipe Angle 
  4. Main Drain/Sewer Line Clogged
  5. Roof Vent is Clogged

Sink won’t Drain but there is No Clog 

This is super frustrating because what could possibly be wrong with your sink if it won’t drain but the pipes are clear? 

If you’ve already used a sink plunger and no clog is in the pipes, you are probably scratching your head, wondering what to do next.  Well, the fact is, there IS a clog in your pipes, just not one that your plunger can remove.  Thinking long term, the best tool to have in your home is a drain auger.  Then, you can clear out all the drains in your home, yourself, for only the cost of the auger.

P Trap Clog

If your sink is not draining but pipes are clear, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a clog somewhere in the pipes.  Most likely the clog is at or behind the P trap.  The P trap is basically the elbow in your pipes before your pipes go into the wall.  This “elbow” cause gunk, grease, food, and hair to gather in the area and cause clogs.  

p trap

Your clog is probably hiding down there, after the P Trap, where hands can’t reach.

You can easily remove the P trap and clear out any visible debris.  First, turn off water to the sink.  

Second, grab a bucket to catch any water that will come out of the pipe.  Third, grab yourself a wrench that fits onto the pipe and then remove the pipe.

Take out anything you can find, even putting your hands as far as they will go into the pipes and grabbing any debris.  Wipe of the inside of the pipe to remove built up gunk.  

Replace the pipe and then turn the water back on.  Test out the sink to see if it runs clear after doing this.  If not, you may need a drain auger to go down the pipes passed the P trap.  

Air Vent is Clogged : Sink Not Draining But Pipes are Clear 

Can a sink drain get air locked? You bet it can. Each sink should have an air vent built in to allow the water to flow freely through the pipes.  Sometimes, that air vent can get clogged with gunk and debris.  Each sink and building codes in your area are different so the air vent may be located in different places.  

For most sinks though, it’s under the sink and just looks like a random pipe sticking out that’s not attached to anything.  Make sure to take that off and check that its not clogged on the inside of the air vent piping.  Also make sure that nothing you are storing under the sink is blocking air from getting out of the air vent. Give the air vent a clean and clean the pipes that it attaches to.

If the P trap is clear, and the air vent isn’t clogged, you can move onto problem #3.

Pipe Angle

Some pipes were not built at the right angle to allow drainage to occur properly.  This results in slow drains, standing water in pipes, and no way for water to flush out the debris.  It just gathers in the flat pipe area and forms clogs.  

If you see a pipe that is mostly straight under your sink, you should take that off and clean it out. Long term, think about getting that replaced with a proper pipe.

Main Sewer/Drain Line is Clogged

It could be that your main drainage line from the house is clogged up from either debris, tree roots, broken pipes, or sagging pipes. This isn’t such an easy fix. You have to either buy a drain camera and scope out what is going on inside the pipes or hire a pro to do it.

Once you’ve diagnosed the problem, you maybe able to auger out the issue yourself or you may have to replace/repair your main line, which can be pretty costly.

Roof Vent is Clogged

Roof vents allow air to escape your plumbing system which in urn, let’s the water flow freely in and out of your home. Roof vents can get clogged with leaves, gunk, critters will make their nests in there, etc.

Check out our detailed post on how to unclog a roof vent pipe.

Drain Clog Prevention

Here are some tips to prevent future drain clogs:

  • Watch that the kids put anything down the drains
  • Clean out your pipes twice per year with a drain auger
  • Grease should be poured into a container and thrown out, not down your toilet
  • Use a drain catcher in your sink drains to catch any debris that gets into the sink

Cost of Hiring a Plumber Versus Buying a Drain Auger

Hiring a plumber to unclog your drains costs anywhere from $100- 250, depending on the area and how complicated the clog is. A drain auger can be as cheap as $30. You can also use your drain auger as many times as you like, so I consider it an investment.

What is the Best Homemade Drain Cleaner?

The best thing to unclog drains quick and give them a bit of a clean is very hot water. It melts away the clog and washes it down the drain. It works short term and in a pinch. But, your clog will come back because the hot water didn’t thoroughly clean the inside of your drains and remove all the debris and gunk. A drain auger is the best method to clean out your pipes and provide long term relief from any clogging issues.

Kitchen Sink Clog Remover: Another Solution

Talon Drain Cleaner – Professional Grade 

Like a rocket ship blasting through your pipes, Talon Drain Opener is what the Pros use. Because it’s Pro Grade it does cost more than your standard liquid drain opener.  BUT, you’re getting some kick butt results for the price.  It’s worth it.

We had a slow running sink drain, clogged up with hair and decided to test it out.  It’s not liquid like other chemical drain openers.  Talon is grainy, flakey and powdery and you put it into your drain and wash it down with water.

Our test showed that our drain ran like new after using Talon Drain Opener.  It’s also safe for septic systems and won’t wreck your chrome, plastic or brass sink fittings.

Exactly what you’d expect from a professional grade product like this.

You can grab Talon Drain Opener in either 1 pound or 2 lb containers. The bottle pictured here is the 2 pound container, which we always have on hand.  And the 2lb container is a great deal, costing only about 10$ more than the 1 pound container.

Conclusion Sink Not Draining But Pipes Clear

If you have a sink not draining but pipes are clear, there are a few things you can try yourself at home.  We hope that the DIY techniques mentioned here help you save some money and get your sink running clear. 


What other ways can I get my sink to drain/unclogs?

Check out our post with details on how to dissolve debris in a drain.