Unclogging a sink drain with a plunger. (Gene Hamilton / July 28, 2014)

Unblocking a clogged sink drain is one of life's little tasks that everyone should know how to handle. Often a clog is caused by grease or food scraps lodged in the drain, which stops the water from flowing through the pipe. If you're the first responder but fail to unclog the drain, call a plumber.

The worst part of the job is removing all the water in the sink. Clear water isn't generally a problem, but often it's floating with food scraps, coffee grounds or whatever else is causing the backup. Use a bucket with a can or pitcher as a scoop to remove the water, and then follow up with a sponge to clear the sink. First, try a plunger that uses suction to alternately push and pull the clog within the pipe until the force dislodges the blockage. If that doesn't work, try a chemical drain unclogger, followed by flushing it with running water.

No luck? Then use a drain auger, a coiled spiral snake with a handle on one end. You push the tool through the clog and crank it, driving the snake further into the obstruction to break it up and flush it through the line. If that doesn't work, remove and clean the trap, the u-shaped pipe under the sink. Use a wrench or slip-joint pliers to unscrew the cleanout plug on the bottom of the trap and probe inside the pipe to remove the blockage. If none of these tactics work, call a plumber, who will charge $125 to make a typical house call to unclog a sink drain.

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Pro Cost -- DIY Cost -- Pro time -- DIY Time -- DIY Savings -- Percent Saved

$125 -- $20 -- 1.0 -- 1.5 -- $105 -- 84 Percent