I've recently purchased a house and face a number of new challenges now. One of them is that water from the sinks goes out badly, and sometimes not at all (i.e. most goes out, but a few cm remain, for hours). Now one of the showers has started to show the same symptom.

The issue might have gotten worse (or I suffer from selective perception) after we removed the basement kitchen, which left one water outlet open (strong sewage smell, now the outlet is covered).

I've thrown the usual drain cleaner chemicals in there, to little effect, making me believe the problem isn't some hair in the outlet, but somewhere else. As I have no clue about plumbing at all, I don't even know where to start searching for the problem.

Two things that might help: One of the affected sinks has a plastic pipe under it, when I press it air bubbles come up and water goes out, so it seems air and not water is blocking the passage? Second, we are living in the house with 2 people. The previous owners were a full family (6 people living constantly, I think), so most likely there's now a lot less water going through the system. One shower and one bathtub we don't use at all.

Happy for any answers that can tell me how to troubleshoot the issue and finding out what the problem is.

2 Answers 2


I would get a small bucket, put it under the trap for the slow sink. remove the trap, check flush, and clean out the trap. After you reinstall this trap see if the problem is corrected. If cleaning out the trap doesn't fix the drain check the piping between the trap and the vertical larger stack. If the drain problem is not fixed either buy or rent a snake to snake the drain or call a plumber for help. Where I live plumbers will come out for around $100.00. (money well spent)

  • I'll try that. I have a snake and will check. I should make clear that sink doesn't have a proper trap (the metal U we all know) but plastic pipes. I've blamed the water going out badly on that construction until it started to happen in the shower, too.
    – Tom
    Apr 25, 2017 at 15:03

If the shower was not backing up before when the sink was it could be hair and soap in each of the drains. My wife has long hair and both the shower and tub have to be cleaned out every few months. I would clean the sink first since it is easier IMHO. Make sure to clear any "stuff" that may be hung up on the stopper arm a few inches above the trap if you have a stopper that you pull up to plug the sink. Plastic u bends are more common today than metal and plastic dosent corrode like metal will especially with the use of drain cleaners (some will eat metal and these are the best for clearing a clog if chemicals need to be used. If cleaning the sink trap out works the shower will probably need to be cleaned also. If when cleaning the sink drain not much is found this would be a good time to run the snake down the pipe.

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