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How To Fix a Sink That Keeps Filling Up With Water

How To Fix a Sink That Keeps Filling Up With Water

A sink that keeps filling up with water can be fixed easily in most situations as long as you follow the right steps. Very rarely will you need the help of a professional plumber – that’ll only happen if there’s a serious problem.

Here’s how you can fix a sink that keeps filling up with water:

  1. Pour boiling water down the sink drain.
  2. Check the garbage disposal.
  3. Use a plunger.
  4. Use a wire hanger.
  5. Clean the stopper.
  6. Pour vinegar and baking soda.
  7. Pour baking soda and salt.
  8. Use a plumber’s snake.
  9. Check the P-trap.

If your sink keeps filling up with water and you’re wondering what to do, read on to get some effective solutions. You’ll also learn what causes the problem and what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.

1. Pour Boiling Water Down the Sink Drain

Pouring hot water into the sink is one of the easiest and fastest ways of clearing clogged sink drainage. It should be the first thing you try whenever your sink shows signs of blockage. You only need to get rid of the accumulated water using a jug or mug, then pour boiled water into the sink. 

Hot water works well in cleaning up oils, grease, and other residues from the sink pipes. 

However, if there is a clogging that has been caused by other debris, you may have to use other methods to get rid of the blockage first, to allow water to pass through the pipes.

After pouring in the boiling water, turn on the faucet and check if the problem persists. If it does, pour more water and if it continues after several attempts, try out the other methods I’ve discussed below.

However, if your drainage system is made of PVC pipes, this method is not recommendable as it can damage the pipes.

2. Check the Garbage Disposal

If your sink has a garbage disposal, check it out, as it might be the cause of the problem. If a clog has accumulated in the disposal, it’ll usually break down when you turn it on. 

However, if the disposal isn’t functioning properly or has overheated, you won’t be able to turn it on. In such a case, you can try rebooting it by activating the reset switch. 

It’s easy to know when your disposal has jammed as it always produces a humming sound when turned on. Just make sure the disposal is off before you attempt to fix it.

If you turn the disposal on and it still doesn’t break down the clog, turn it off and operate it manually by placing an Allan wrench through its hole and twist it clockwise until there’s reduced resistance. The resistance is usually an indication that the clogging is breaking up (source).

After that, turn the disposal on and the faucet to check whether the water flows down the sink normally.

3. Use a Plunger

A plunger is one of the most common tools used in fixing clogged sinks. It works by creating pressure within the system and clogging up the particles to get out of the pipes. Below is a procedure on how to use it:

  1. Put the plunger over the sink drain and pump it for 30 seconds. 
  2. After successfully removing the clogging, pour hot water to melt down oil and grease in the system

If the problem persists even after all this, it’s a clear indication there’s a bigger problem that needs to be fixed using other methods.

4. Use a Wire Hanger

Wire hangers have other uses apart from hanging coats, one of them being unclogging a clogged sink. But this will only work if the clog isn’t very far, as the hanger isn’t very long. 

To use it, simply straighten it using a pair of pliers to form a long wire. Insert it into the stub pipe or kitchen drain to push out or pull through the clog.

However, you need to be very cautious with this method as you can easily scratch the sink.

Also, avoid pushing the hanger too roughly, as it might push the clog even further, making it more difficult to remove.

5. Clean the Stopper

If your bathroom sink is having issues, you can try fixing it by cleaning the stopper. The stopper may catch debris, soap, and hair, which interferes with the normal flow of water. Many modern sinks have stoppers that are easily removable by hand.

To clean the stopper, follow these steps:

  1. Check underneath the sink where its basin connects to the pipe. There’s a rod that has a nut and a clip connecting to the pipe.
  2. Remove the clip and make sure you place it safely, as it can easily get lost.
  3. Use pliers to detach the nut. Place a bucket beneath the sink to catch any water that gets out after detaching the nut.
  4. Release the rod by squeezing the clip and lift the stopper from the drain. It should be free and easily removable by hand.
  5. Remove the residue covering the stopper using a paper towel. You can also wash it using warm water and detergent to get rid of all debris.
  6. If there are tough clogs, remove them using a hanger or plumber’s snake.
  7. Put everything back to its place by putting the stopper back into its hole, screw the nut back, and tighten it.
  8. Use the clip you removed to connect the rod to the strap.
  9. Test if the stopper is working correctly. It should move up and down when you push or pull the level. If it doesn’t, something is wrong, and you need to find out what it is and fix it.

Source: Sunrise Specialty

6. Pour Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar and baking soda can also come in handy when your sink has gotten filled up with water. This method breaks down food particles and weakens the tough bonds formed by oil and grease on the pipes.

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Put a third of a cup of both vinegar and baking soda in a bowl. You don’t need to mix them as they do so automatically.
  2. As soon as they produce a fizzy sound, pour the mixture into the sink and leave it for a few hours. The sink shouldn’t have any water, so remove any water before starting this procedure, using a cup or mug.
  3. You can also pour the two directly into the sink without putting them in a bowl. Just make sure you do so in equal proportions.

The solution clears up any clogging in the pipes. Don’t forget to pour running water to melt down the oil and grease.

Here’s a quick demonstration of me doing a modified version of this where I pour the baking soda into the sink first and then follow it with the vinegar. I was able to do it this way because the water in the sink eventually settled. If it hadn’t, I would have needed to use the 3 step approach described above.

Unclog a sink with baking soda and vinegar

7. Pour Baking Soda and Salt

A mixture of baking soda and salt is also very effective in fixing a water-filled sink drain. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Remove the standing water from the sink.
  2. Put a full cup of baking soda in a cup and half a cup of salt.
  3. Mix them and pour the mixture into the sink
  4. Pour hot water after 5-6 hours and repeat the process for some time until the sink has been fully unclogged.

8. Use a Plumber’s Snake

A plumber’s snake, also known as a drain auger, is very good at fixing a slow-draining sink. It’s simply a metal cable that extends from three to 25 feet (7.62 m) long to help dislodge clogs that have accumulated beyond where a plunger or a sink cleaning tool can reach. 

A plumber’s snake is easily available in stores or online and is considered more advanced than a plunger.

This is how to use it:

  1. Remove the stopper and insert the snake’s tip into the sink drain.
  2. Push it further down the pipe while removing it periodically to get rid of accumulated stuff
  3. If you feel a blockage inside the pipe, break through it by cranking the snake’s handle and wiggle it gently, side by side.
  4. Remove it together with the contents.
  5. Use hot water to flush the drain.

9. Check the P-Trap

The p-trap, a U-shaped bend in a sink pipe, maintains a small amount of water so that the sewer gas doesn’t back up. Sometimes, strings, hairs, and other debris may accumulate in it, making the sink fill up with water.

If the p-trap is the culprit, follow the below procedure to clear it:

  1. Turn off the sink’s water supply.
  2. Place a bucket under the pipes to collect the spilled water instead of letting it spill all over.
  3. Twist the slip nuts holding the p-trap in a clockwise direction using a wrench or fingers.
  4. Lift away the p-trap, then use a coat hanger or brush to clear any debris. If there’s significant clogging buildup, remove the pipe and wash it thoroughly.
  5. Run water through it until it becomes totally clear.
  6. Reattach the trap, tighten the nuts, and turn the water supply on.
  7. Run water down the drain to see if the problem has been fixed. If it hasn’t, proceed to the following steps.
  8. Remove the p-trap. Don’t forget to turn off the water supply.
  9. Disconnect the pipe that joins the system and the wall.
  10. Insert a hanger or plumbers snake into the pipe to check whether there’s any clogging.
  11. If there’s any, remove it from the pipe using the tool, then reconnect it. Make sure all the connections are tightened enough to prevent any leakage.
  12. Pour hot water into the sink to get rid of any debris that might’ve been left behind. 

If you do all these and the problem persists, it’s time to call a plumber to have your system checked. There could be a problem that can only be diagnosed and fixed by an expert.

Source: Ace Plumbing

What Makes a Kitchen Sink Fill Up With Water?

Kitchen sinks get filled up with water when a blockage prevents water from going down the drain normally. Some of the most common causes of these blockages include mineral build-up and food residue.

Let’s discuss these common causes below.

Mineral Build-Up

Mineral build-up is a common problem in houses that have hard water. The minerals present in the water may remain in the sink pipe, causing blockage over time.

Mostly, the blockage caused by mineral build-up requires a plumber to fix it.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Food Residue

Food residue shouldn’t be allowed to get through the drain, even when there’s a garbage disposal. Some food residues like coffee grounds don’t break down, and when allowed to pass through the sink, they may accumulate and cause a blockage.

Grease and Oil

Dishes will always have some grease and oil, which always go down the sink pipes. If the two accumulate in large amounts over time, they make the pipes thinner, making the water pass through it slowly. They can also cause total blockage, leaving no room for water to go down.

Small Objects

Small objects commonly used at home may find their way into the sink pipes and cause blockage.

If it’s a bathroom sink, hair straps, soaps, and other debris may get into the sink, down the pipes, and cause blockage. 

Hair is particularly very bad as it binds with other things like soap to form clogs. Traditional soap also contains oils that combine with minerals present in the water to form a hard substance that causes clogging over time.

For kitchen sinks, tiny things like raw rice may accumulate over time, interfering with water flow.

How To Prevent Future Sink Blockage Problems

Knowing how to prevent your sink from getting filled up with water will save you from the tedious work of fixing it now and then. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Try as much as you can to avoid any food particles going through the drain. If you don’t have a garbage disposal, you have to be extra careful about this.
  • Pour some hot water into the skin frequently to melt down any grease or oil that may have accumulated in the pipes.
  • Make sure no hair gets into the bathroom sink.


There are several methods of fixing a sink that has filled up with water. While methods don’t require special tools or products, such as the boiled water method, there are some that require you to have some specialized tools, such as a plunger or plumber’s snake.

The method you choose depends on your preference, availability of materials, cause of the blockage, and expertise.

Recommended Reading:

Kitchen Sink Not Getting Hot Water: A Troubleshooting Guide

Water Heater Not Filling Up? Here’s 4 Likely Reasons & Fixes

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