How to Fix Airlock in Kitchen Sink Drain: Simple Steps for Quick Solutions

Last updated on November 18, 2023

Discover the simple steps to effectively fix an airlock in your kitchen sink drain and restore its smooth functioning.

Have you ever experienced water backing up in your kitchen sink drain? Or perhaps, you’ve heard gurgling sounds while draining the sink? These are signs of an airlock in your kitchen sink drain. An airlock is a common plumbing issue that occurs when air gets trapped in the pipes and prevents water from flowing freely.

It can be frustrating to deal with, but don’t worry – it’s not a difficult problem to fix! In this article, we’ll show you how to fix an airlock in your kitchen sink drain so that you can get back to using your sink without any issues.

What's Inside

What Is an Air Lock?

kitchen faucet sink airlock blockage

It can happen in any part of your home’s plumbing system, including your kitchen sink drain. When an airlock occurs, it creates a blockage that stops water from draining properly and causes gurgling sounds or even backups.

Airlocks are caused by several factors such as incorrect installation of pipes, changes in temperature causing expansion or contraction of the pipe material leading to bends or kinks which trap pockets of air inside them. Clogs due to debris buildup can also cause an air lock.

It’s important to address this problem promptly because if left unattended for too long it could lead to more severe issues like leaks and burst pipes which will require costly repairs.

Causes of Airlock in Kitchen Sink Drain

Importance of Cleaning Sink Strainer

One of the most common causes is improper installation or maintenance of plumbing systems. If pipes are not installed correctly, they may have dips or low points where water can accumulate and create an airlock.

Another cause could be a clogged drain that prevents proper water flow, leading to trapped air in the pipes. If you’ve recently had any work done on your plumbing system such as repairs or replacements, it’s possible that this could have caused an airlock.

It’s important to identify the root cause of the problem so that you can take appropriate measures to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Signs of an Air Lock in Your Plumbing System

Sink Strainer Slow Drain

If you’re experiencing any of the following signs, it’s likely that there is an airlock in your kitchen sink drain or plumbing system:

1. Slow draining: If water takes longer than usual to drain from your sink, this could be a sign of an airlock.

2. Gurgling sounds: When you hear gurgling sounds coming from the pipes after using the sink or flushing a toilet, it indicates trapped air in the pipes.

3. Water backing up: This happens when water backs up into other drains such as shower and bathtub drains when running water down one fixture like a kitchen sink.

  1. Foul odors: Airlocks can cause unpleasant smells to emanate from sinks and other fixtures due to stagnant wastewater buildup caused by slow drainage.
  2. Low pressure at faucets – An air lock can also reduce pressure at faucets making them less effective for washing dishes or hands

Common Symptoms of Airlock in Kitchen Sink Drain

Identifying the Source of Musty Smell Kitchen Sink

The first and most obvious sign is slow drainage or water backing up in the sink. You may also hear gurgling sounds coming from the pipes when you run water down the drain.

Another symptom of an airlock is foul odors emanating from your kitchen sink. This can be caused by stagnant water trapped in the pipes due to poor drainage.

Lastly, if you notice bubbles forming around your kitchen sink’s plughole while running tap water, it could indicate that there’s an air lock present.

It’s important not to ignore these signs as they can lead to more significant plumbing problems if left unaddressed.

Tools and Materials Needed to Fix Airlock

sink plunger and enzyme cleaner

Fortunately, most of these items are readily available and can be found in any hardware store or online.

Here is a list of essential tools and materials that you will need to fix an airlock:

  • Plunger
  • Drain Unblocker
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver (flathead/Phillips)
  • Hosepipe with nozzle attachment
  • Baking Soda & Vinegar
  • Enzymatic Drain Cleaner

It’s important to note that not all methods require every tool on this list. However, having them handy will make it easier for you to tackle any plumbing issue that may arise.

Assessing the Sink Drain

Dirty kitchen sink drainer

First, remove any standing water from the sink and let it dry completely. Next, check if there are any visible blockages or debris that may be causing the airlock.

You can use a flashlight to inspect inside the drain for any foreign objects such as food particles or hair that could be obstructing water flow.

If you don’t see anything obvious blocking your pipes but still suspect an airlock is present, try running hot water down your sink for several minutes while observing its behavior closely. If bubbles appear on top of standing water in your basin or gurgling sounds emanate from within pipes beneath sinks when draining them out – these are signs of trapped pockets of air.

Method 1: Plunger Technique

Use a Plunger Sink Drain

It works by creating pressure that forces the trapped air out of the pipes, allowing water to flow freely again.

To use this method, you’ll need a plunger that’s specifically designed for sinks (not toilets). First, fill your sink with enough water to cover the rubber part of the plunger.

Then place it over the drain and push down gently but firmly until it creates suction.

Next, pull up on the handle quickly and forcefully several times while maintaining suction. This will create a vacuum effect that should dislodge any blockages or trapped air in your pipes.

If this doesn’t work at first, try adding more water to increase pressure or adjusting how you’re using your plunger until you get results.

Method 2: Drain Unblocker

Drain Unblocker Sink

This method involves pouring a chemical solution down the sink to dissolve any blockages in the pipes.

Before using this method, make sure to read and follow all safety instructions on the product label carefully. Wear gloves and eye protection when handling chemicals.

To use a drain unblocker:

  1. Remove any standing water from your sink.
  2. Pour about half of the recommended amount of drain unblocker into your kitchen sink.
  3. Wait for at least an hour or as directed by manufacturer’s instructions before running hot water down your kitchen sink for several minutes.

This should help clear out any blockages that may be causing airlock in your kitchen sink drains.

Method 3: Cleaning P-Trap

Importance of Cleaning Kitchen Sink Vent

The P-trap is a curved pipe located under your sink that traps debris and prevents it from entering your plumbing system. Over time, this trap can become clogged with food particles, grease or hair.

To clean the P-trap:

  1. Turn off water supply to avoid any leaks.
  2. Place a bucket underneath to catch any water that may spill out.
  3. Loosen the nuts on both ends of the trap using adjustable pliers or wrenches.
  4. Remove carefully so as not to damage other parts of your plumbing system
  5. Clean thoroughly with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush
  6. Rinse well before reassembling everything back together.

Method 4: Using a Hose

turning off the water supply

Here’s how:

1. Turn off the water supply to your sink.

2. Remove any standing water from your sink.

3. Insert one end of a garden hose into the blocked drain and seal it with duct tape or another suitable material.

4. Fill up your kitchen sink with hot water until it reaches about halfway up its height.

5. Place the other end of the garden hose outside through an open window or door, making sure that there are no kinks in it that could block airflow.

6. Turn on both taps at full blast for several minutes while holding onto both ends of this pipe tightly so as not to let go during high pressure periods when releasing them could cause injury due to sudden bursts coming out forcefully from within pipes under pressure!

Method 5: Baking Soda and Vinegar

baking soda lemon vinegar tarnished kitchen sink

This method is effective because the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar creates a fizzing action that helps break up any blockages in the pipes.

To use this method, start by pouring half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow it up with one cup of white vinegar.

Cover the drain with a plug or cloth to prevent any splashing, then wait for about 10-15 minutes for the mixture to work its magic.

Afterward, pour hot water down the sink to flush out any remaining debris or residue from inside your pipes. Repeat this process if necessary until you notice improved drainage.

Using baking soda and vinegar is an eco-friendly way of fixing airlocks as it does not involve harsh chemicals that could damage your plumbing system over time.

Method 6: Enzymatic Drain Cleaner

enzyme-based cleaner kitchen sink clogs

These cleaners use enzymes that break down organic matter, such as food particles and grease, which can cause blockages in the pipes.

To use an enzymatic cleaner, pour it directly into the affected drain according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Leave it for several hours or overnight before flushing with hot water.

It is important to note that enzymatic cleaners may take longer than other methods to clear a blockage completely. However, they are safe for all types of plumbing systems and do not contain harsh chemicals that can damage pipes or harm the environment.

Fixing an airlock in your kitchen sink drain is essential for maintaining proper drainage and preventing further plumbing issues.

Inspect and Repair the Valves in Drains

Removing Kitchen Sink Vent Cover Screw

The valves control water flow through pipes, so if they’re not working correctly, it can cause airlocks.

To inspect the valves:

  1. Turn off your main water supply.
  2. Remove any covers or caps from around your valve.
  3. Check for any visible damage or debris that may be blocking them.

If you notice any damage or blockages, try cleaning them with a wire brush or replacing them altogether if necessary.

It’s important to note that repairing valves can be tricky business – especially if you’re not familiar with plumbing systems – so don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber for help if needed.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Airlock in Kitchen Sink Drains

Pouring in Hot Water in Kitchen Sink

Here are some tips for avoiding airlocks:

1. Run hot water through your sink regularly: Running hot water through your sink on a regular basis can help prevent blockages and keep the pipes clear.

2. Use a strainer: Using a strainer over your kitchen sink drain can help catch food particles and other debris before they go down the drain.

3. Don’t pour grease down the drain: Grease can solidify inside pipes, causing blockages and potentially leading to an airlock.

4. Regularly clean out P-traps: The P-trap is located under most sinks and traps debris before it enters into plumbing systems; cleaning them regularly will ensure proper functioning of drains without any clogs or blocks.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Plumbing System

Remove Sink Strainer

Here are some tips that can help you keep your plumbing system in good condition:

1. Regularly clean your drains: Clogged drains can lead to various problems, including airlocks.

To avoid this, make sure you clean the drains regularly using baking soda and vinegar or an enzymatic cleaner.

2. Avoid pouring grease down the drain: Grease buildup is one of the leading causes of clogs in pipes and can cause significant damage over time.

3. Fix leaks immediately: Even small leaks can lead to bigger problems if left unaddressed for too long.

4. Use strainers on all sinks and tubs: Strainers will catch hair, soap scum, food particles, and other debris before they enter into pipes causing blockages.

5. Schedule regular maintenance checks with a professional plumber at least once every year or two years depending on usage.

When to Call a Professional

Kitchen Sink Vent Location and Function

A licensed plumber has the expertise and tools necessary to diagnose and repair complex plumbing issues that may be causing an airlock. If you notice any other signs of plumbing problems such as slow draining or foul odors coming from your sink drain, it’s best to seek professional help immediately.

Ignoring these symptoms could lead to more severe damage down the line, which will cost more money in repairs. Remember that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to maintaining a healthy plumbing system.

Fixing an airlock in your kitchen sink drain is not rocket science; anyone can do it with some basic knowledge and tools at hand.


How do you get air out of kitchen sink drain?

To get air out of a kitchen sink drain, start from the lowest faucet in the house and move to the highest, turning on both hot and cold water 1/8th of the way and letting it run for two minutes, allowing the water pressure to force air out through the faucets.

Why is my kitchen sink getting air locked?

Your kitchen sink is getting air locked because air gets trapped inside the drain line due to a blocked vent pipe, which constricts water flow and may cause backups or pipe damage.

Can air lock a drain?

Yes, an air lock, which is a pocket of air trapped within a drain line due to a blocked vent pipe, can limit water flow and cause plumbing issues.

What are the common signs of an airlock in a kitchen sink drain?

Common signs of an airlock in a kitchen sink drain include slow draining water, gurgling sounds, and unpleasant odors.

What preventive measures can be taken to avoid airlocks in kitchen sink drains?

To avoid airlocks in kitchen sink drains, regularly dispose of food waste and grease properly, use a sink strainer, and clean the drain with a mixture of hot water, baking soda, and vinegar.

Are there any long-term solutions to prevent recurring airlock issues in kitchen sink drains?

One long-term solution to prevent recurring airlock issues in kitchen sink drains is to regularly clean and maintain the drain system, ensuring pipes are clear of debris and obstructions.

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