You’re rinsing off the dishes and you notice that the water is coming out the tap faster than it will go down the drain. We all know the dreaded feeling that comes with the prospect of having to call a plumber. When will he be able to get here? And how much is it going to cost? But in many cases, clearing a sink drain is pretty straightforward.

In an ideal world, drains wouldn’t get clogged in the first place. By keeping the most common culprits—grease, hard or fibrous food scraps, and (in the bathroom sink) hair—from going down the drain, you’ll waste a lot less time and energy fishing things back out. Purchase an inexpensive drain screen at the hardware store and you’ll keep hard-to-catch waste like coffee grounds from slipping down the drain to clog it or damage your garbage disposal.

But no matter how attentive you are to what goes down the drain, you can’t stop everything. Eventually slime and gunk are going to accumulate on the insides of your drainpipes, making them drain less and less efficiently until finally water backs up into the sink. To keep this from happening, mix up a caustic solution of baking soda and white vinegar and pour it down the drain. Just leaving it for half an hour (or more if you can) will enable it to do its work. Then flush it out, along with all the scum, by pouring a kettle of boiling water in after it.

Finally, although slightly more involved, a do-it-yourself technique that usually makes an enormous difference is cleaning out your sink trap. This is the P- or U-shaped bend in the drainpipe under your sink, which is designed for easy removal with a plumber’s wrench or pair of channel-locking plyers. Make sure you put a bucket underneath it when you pull it off, as a little bit of water will spill out. Once it’s off, pull out all the accumulated hair and sediment you find, give it a good rinsing with hot water and vinegar, and screw it back into place. Your drain should work like new.

If your sink is still clogged after implementing these DIY methods, please contact an experienced, professional plumber in Los Angeles . At Express Plumbing & Rooter, our plumbers are available 24/7 for any plumbing situation. To contact us, visit www.ExpressPlumbingandRooter.com or call 800-628-5553.