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How to Use an Air Compressor on a Clogged Sink

How to Use an Air Compressor on a Clogged Sink
Air compressors, among many other functions, can be used to unclog a drain

Most drain and pipe clogs result from a combination of several small items rather than one large item. If your sink is clogged, an air compressor is a useful tool to clear the problem. The air compressor plugs into a standard 110-volt outlet and applies pressure that can be used to remove the clog. In addition to the compressor, you’ll need to gather a wand fitting with a trigger, old rags, and a small plastic container before embarking on this repair.

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Remove Water

First, use the plastic container to remove standing water from the sink. Bailing as much of the liquid as possible before getting started is necessary so that you can access the drain using the compressor.

Get Wand in Place

Attach the wand fitting to the compressor according to manufacturer instructions. Place the wand as far into the drain as it will go. When the wand is in place, stuff old rags into the drain around the wand to hold it in place. This prevents air from escaping and increases the compression power that will be focused on the clog.

Release Air into the Drain

Next, squeeze the trigger on the wand to release air into the drain. Move the drill around, if necessary. In most cases, running the air for three to five minutes provides enough pressure to clear the clog.

After several minutes, turn off the compressor and remove the rags and wand from the drain. Run the water to see if the drain is clear. If the clog is still present, repeat the process until it is successfully removed. When the drain is completely clear, put the stopper in place and fill the entire sink with water, then disengage the stopper to flush the pipes. Do this two to three more times to ensure the clog is completely removed.

Using a Kinetic Water Ram

A kinetic water ram is a type of air compressor designed specifically for plumbing applications. Though this tool is portable and lightweight, it can provide up to 160 pounds of pressure that can clear clogs in sinks, toilets, and tubs. The air is forced through the pipe at a rate of 4,700 feet per second, which often instantly removes even a very stubborn clog. The impact is instant, which prevents the pressure from building up within your plumbing system. Just 2 percent of the force created impacts the pipe walls, while 98 percent is directed toward the clog.

The kinetic water ram can be fitted with cone seal drains with varying diameters for a proper seal with the clogged drain. It can also be fitted with a Schrader valve to be more precisely target pressure.

While the kinetic water ram is an effective way to clear a clogged sink, it should not be used for plumbing systems that have weak pipes or fittings.

Best Practices When Using an Air Compressor

When using an air compressor, keep the following safety advice in mind.

Never inhale air from the compressor, since it can contain chemicals and impurities that might impact your health. Power down the machine and depressurize it when repairs are needed. Don’t use compressors meant for outdoor use indoors or vice versa. Review manufacturer instructions, and follow them throughout the operation of the machinery.

Always connect a hose or tool to the compressor before releasing the pressurized air. This prevents injury to individuals and equipment.

Additional DIY Drain Clearing Methods

Less severe clogs can often be cleared without the use of an air compressor. A plunger is often the easiest method. Simply close the overflow hole, fit the plunger over the drain, fill the sink halfway, and push the plunger completely down several times until the clog clears, and water can flow down the drain.

Over-the-counter chemical products can sometimes be effective to clear minor clogs but are best used for regular maintenance to avoid debris from building up in the pipes. If you have standing water that drains slowly, try these products to get rid of the developing clog before it gets worse and blocks the pipe completely.

A flexible augur is a next strategy if the plunger is not effective in clearing the clog. This metal cable has a handle at one end and an auger at the other. The auger end of the cable should be inserted into the drain until the clog can be reached and pulled out. An air compressor is often used when this method is not effective, such as if the cable is not long enough to reach the clogged portion of the pipe.

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