By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Unblocking a clogged drain is one of those life challenges we all face as homeowners. In the kitchen it's usually grease and food scraps, in the bathroom it's scum and hair that create the blockage. Wherever the clog, the task at hand is getting the water flowing again. As a homeowner, you're the first responder who sees the standing water in the basin, so try some of these tactics before calling in the pros.

First, try a plunger that uses suction to alternately push and pull the clog within the pipe until the force dislodges the blockage. If that doesn't work, try a chemical drain unclogger to see if it can dissolve the blockage, followed by flushing it with running water.

It gets physical when you try the next tactic of removing and cleaning the trap, the U-shaped pipe under the sink. Use a wrench or slip-joint pliers to unscrew the cleanout plug on the bottom of the trap and probe inside the pipe to remove the blockage. Your last plan of attack is to use a snake or drain auger, a coiled spiral snake with a handle on one end. You push the tool through the clog and crank it, driving the snake further into the obstruction to break it up and flush it through the line.

If all else fails, call a plumber, who will charge $120 to make a typical house call to unclog a sink drain.

That sums it up. Knowing the average cost to unclog a sink drain lets you compare doing it yourself with what you can expect to pay a contractor. To customize the cost to where you live add your ZIP Code in the cost box.

Cost updated 2014

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