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How to Unclog a Sink Clogged with Coffee Grounds
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Blog 02/6/19

How to Unclog a Sink Clogged with Coffee Grounds

Accidentally dumped your coffee grounds in the sink? We are here to help. Read this article to find out how to unclog a sink clogged with coffee grounds.

There are organic food items that can be broken down and pass through garbage disposers, and then there are items that cannot. However, both have something in common; neither should actually be put down any kitchen sink drain.

Our plumbers have been asked many times about how to unclog a clogged drain with coffee grounds. Luckily, most of the time, coffee grounds accidentally go into the sink, but can be flushed out with water, either from the faucet or a high powered kitchen jetter.

So, why should coffee grounds and other organic items not go into the drains, and in the case that they do, what can homeowners do to unclog them?

If homeowners have ever spilled wet used coffee grounds on the counter or floor, they know how hard it is to clean. The wet grounds stick to everything, including the inside of the drain line. So when homeowners use the sink drain, with or without a disposer, for grounds waste, you can bet that it will build up along the insides of the drain lines.

Over time, this can harden and clog the line by reducing normal flow, as other fats and organic food waste enters the line and builds up on the grounds.

But doesn’t hot water dissolve coffee? Instant coffee, yes. Let’s talk a little bit about the  chemistry of coffee.

Instant coffee is coffee that has already been brewed and then dehydrated and reformed into coffee crystals. This is why most instant coffee is extremely fine and dissolves into a good cup of coffee (what constitutes a good cup of coffee is subjective and not relevant to drain or sink clogs).

Regular, or decaf, ground coffee is the actual beans ground to a certain point to deliver the essence of coffee. The essence, essentially is the oils, caffeine, and things like antioxidants released from the ground beans. There are many sciences behind fine and coarse grinds, but again, our concerns are with the end product, and whether or not it can go down the drain.

Ground coffee is still the organic matter from the whole coffee beans, and even after it is ground finely, it remains approximately 70 percent insoluble organic matter, according to the Coffee Brewing Institute (and chemistry). The soluble portion is what goes into the cup and, of course, the level of good or great can vary for a variety of reasons.

But, the fact is, once the grounds are used, they are highly fibrous and will not break down or dissolve in water. This means they stick around on many surfaces–including your kitchen drains.

In our research, we found a blogger suggesting coffee grounds as a drain declogger and deodorizer. We strongly recommend against using internet home remedies before verifying them with professional plumbers. Avoid putting food items, organic waste, grease, and oil in the drain to keep away foul odors.

How to Unclog a Sink Clogged with Coffee Grounds

The good news is that homeowners who use disposers sparingly and do not intentionally put all of their used coffee grounds in the sink will likely keep a clear kitchen drain line and avoid common clogs.

However, we know that even with precaution and the utmost care, grinds, organic food waste, citrus rinds, and other materials get into the lines, especially around big family holidays when entertaining is at its busiest. When this happens, clearing the kitchen sink can be relatively easy, but it all depends.

DIY Kitchen Sink Unclogging

Many homeowners reach for off the shelf products, such as liquid declogging solutions and chemical drain cleaners, like Drano, to clear clogs. While the chemical makeup in some of these products may break down organic materials and help to dissolve small clogs, they can actually do more harm than good. They can corrode some drain line materials, causing deterioration over time. It is best to avoid them.

Snaking

Savvy homeowners can rent drain snakes at home stores and attempt to snake the line to clear the clog themselves. This could take some basic plumbing knowledge, understanding how to determine if the clog is in the drain trap, disposer, or beyond the cleanout. However, with a little research, it is relatively simple.

Plunger

In a pinch, and if the clog is not from severe grease buildup, a plunger can can help temporarily clear a kitchen sink blockage. If the sink has two sides, cover the side that is clear. Then, using a sink plunger (the ones we most often think about when we think of plungers, similar to a toilet plunger). plunge vigorously on the other side. This could force the clog free, allowing temporary sink services until a professional can be called out.

Professional Plumbing Services

When the clog is severe due to grease buildup, foul odors, and/or leaking and backing up multiple lines, it is time to call a professional plumbing technician. If homeowners accidentally get a small amount of coffee grounds into the sink, and it immediately backs up, it is likely that there is a larger issue.

A professional snaking of the line will be done through the best method and the utmost care of the drain line condition. Plumbers also use specialty snakes and have years of experience telling them what the best snaking method is and how not to get the snake stuck in the drain line.

Professional plumbers will not use a plunger method, but will clear out standing water and take apart the trap under the sink to determine where the clog is and approach clearing the drain from there.

High powered jetting is also a great professional service that will clean years of grease and coffee ground buildup from kitchen drain lines. Jetting can also help to get rid of lingering odors, leaving the drain pipe clear for regular use. Jetting also provides a longer warranty and most customers can expect a drain to run clear long after the service when they take care of what is put into the drain line.

The best way to unclog a kitchen sink and approach kitchen drain lines is to treat them with care. If homeowners have a garbage disposer, consider using it only after scraping food and other waste into the trash and never put grease or oil in the line. Run the faucet on hot for a few minutes to push any coffee grounds that have gotten into the drain. This will push them further down the line and help to unclog your sink.

For more severe drain lines or times when homeowners do not feel confident trying a Do-It-Yourself method, call the professionals for over 35 years. At 1-800 BILL HOWE (245-5469), a team of trained drain cleaning technicians are available 24/7 to deal with all manner of drain clogs.

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