Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How to Fix a Leaky Kitchen Sink

Always work with a partner
There are some annoyances that come with being a homeowner. One of the worst is that kitchen or bathroom sink that has a slow leak. Not enough of a leak to be a real pain, but a couple of drips that just keep you having to wipe up under the sink. Sometimes "you" have a full container of dishwashing detergent that gets water in it, and it gets ruined to the point that "you" get fed up with dealing with the leak and finally decide it's time to fix it. I'm not necessarily saying that happened to me, but I'm not saying that it didn't. If that's you, here is a way to troubleshoot and fix the problem for a few dollars.

Wipe and check the washer
1) Check the compression nuts. (The piece that my fingers are on in picture 3 is a compression nut). If you have PVC, like I do, sometimes things bump the compression nuts and make them loose. These thread onto the pipes and keep things water tight. In theory. For PVC you should be able to hand tighten them. If you have metal plumbing you will need some pliers to make the fix.

2) If everything seems to be tight and there is still water, see if you can determine where the water is coming from. Dry everything off with a towel to make drips more noticeable. Then use a flashlight, turn on the faucet, and watch for the drips.

Picture 3 - installed washers
3) Once you see where the leak is coming from, loosen that compression nut and inspect the washer. Now, realize that you should have had a towel under the sink for water that is in the pipes; run and grab one. Then go back to inspecting the washer. The washer is a plastic angled circle that should fit into to pipe to keep it water tight. Take the washer off and wipe it down. Look for nicks or tears. One time our house had washers that were installed upside down (not by me), causing leaks. The wider side of the washer should be facing the compression nut (Picture 3).

4) Wipe down all of the gunk. Food, hair, and other terrible smelling crud can build up in the pipes. Wipe down the inside and outside of the pipes and washers with a rag towel. Inspect the trap (the u-shaped pipe) for anything that may have fallen down the drain. Little E and I found two straws and a whole pile of crud (4).

4 - Look what we found!
5) Have your helper double check that all washers and nuts are properly installed before reassembling (5). If you are new to this whole plumbing thing it would have been a good idea to take a picture of everything before you disassembled it so that you could get it back in the right order. Ah, hindsight. My first time working on a kitchen sink was before cell phones had cameras, and I really messed up the plumbing.

 6) Hand tighten all connections. Run the water and inspect all unions with a flashlight to make sure there are no leaks (6).

7) Celebrate a job well done by treating your partner to a popsicle. After all, we work hard. We play hard. 

Little E making sure I'm doing it right

Everything back in order

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