How To Keep Your Bathroom Sink Drain Running Smooth
Your bathroom sink is quite different than your kitchen sink. However, it can suffer the consequences of the occasional slow drain and potential drain clog. Understanding the differences between the two sink drains is important. With the drain in the bathroom sink, you are not dealing with food debris like egg shells, strawberry tops, potato peels, and the like. The bathroom drain will have an accumulation of toothpaste, toiletries, soaps, and mostly hair. If you have long hair, the problem can be much worse.
Anatomy of the Bathroom Faucet & Drain
The design of the bathroom sink includes a drain that is a bit different. This drain is a pop-up flange with a Pop-Stopper inside. This Pop-Up Stopper has a hole at the bottom of it and this stopper reaches down into the section of the drain called the Pop Up Waste Assembly which also has a hole on the side to line up with the hole on the stopper.
A long metal rod with a plastic ball on one side located about two inches in from the end is called an Actuator arm or Pivot Rod. This Pivot Rod connects from the Pop Up Waste Assembly and Pop-Up Stopper on one end to the Lift Rod on the other end. The Lift Rod is a vertical rod that pops up through the top of the faucet assembly and allows you to ultimately control the Pop-up Stopper.
Pivot Rod Connects to the Pop-Up Stopper
The end of the Pivot Rod with the plastic ball connects to the Pop Up Waste Assembly. The section of the rod that is before the plastic ball slides into the hole in the Pop Up Waste Assembly and also slides into the hole in the Pop-Up stopper. A Retaining Nut that is part of the Pop Up Waste Assembly slides onto the other end of the Pivot Rod and pushes the plastic ball into the Pop Up Waste Assembly.
The Retaining Nut is then screwed clockwise until snug to secure the Pivot Rod to the Pop Up Waste Assembly. The Retaining Nut is not overtightened and gives the flexibility to keep the Pop-up stopper in the drain and allows it to move up and down easily.
Pivot Rod also Attaches to the Lift Rod
As mentioned before, the other end of the Pivot Rod attaches to a Lift rod which is a vertical rod that pops up through the top of the faucet assembly. The Lift Rod has an attachment at the bottom called a Clevis Strap with multiple holes in it. The Pivot Rod connects to the Clevis Strap by attaching through one of these holes with a Spring Clip. It is this Lift Rod/Clevis Strap which allows you to control if the Pop-Up Stopper is up or down.
Causes of a Slow Drain
Now that we understand the bathroom drain, we can talk about basic cleaning and maintenance. With the design of this type of drain, the connection of the Pivot Rod and the bottom of the Pop-Up Stopper inside of the drain are where most clogs may begin.
The Pivot Rod is usually not made of stainless steel and will begin to rust over time. As it rusts, it’s surface becomes rough and it is easier for soaps, toothpaste, and hair to attach to it. The most common cause of slow drains in the bathroom sink is the accumulation of hair attaching itself to this junction of the the Pivot Rod and the bottom of the Pop-up Stopper. If this situation is not addressed, the build up will lead to a slow drain or eventually a clog.
Easy Basic Drain Cleaning
If you are simply dealing with a slow bathroom drain, the problem is probably a minor one and this fix may do the trick. There is a product called the “Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool” which is basically a long flexible plastic tool about 18” long with notches on it that you would insert into a drain. The “Zip-It”, under $3.00, can be found at most any hardware store, Home Depot, Walmart, etc…
How Does This Work?
The way that it works is that you insert this tool into your drain, twist it a few times, and slowly pull it out. You do this several times and at several insertion points around the Pop-Up stopper, twisting and pulling out every time. As you pull out, you will most likely be pulling out some hair strands every time. After every insertion, remove the hair strands and repeat.
If this slow drain is being caused by a small amount of hair that is built up at the bottom of the pop-up stopper, this method should be able to clear the drain and have it running smoothly again. This method is simple and requires no disassembly of your drain. So for minor drain slow downs, this is certainly an easy fix.
Bigger Problems Require Bigger Solutions
However, if your drain is showing signs of a clog, standing water, backing up on more than one fixture or more severe problems, please call a professional plumber.