How To Remove Kitchen Sink Drain

How To Remove Kitchen Sink Drain

Anthony Barnes

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Do you think your kitchen sink drain needs removing and replacing? Perhaps you have noticed damp patches in your sink cabinet or a musty smell? If this sounds familiar then now is the time to act! 

If your kitchen sink drain is leaking, then it can damage your cabinet, and the floor by your sink, and leave you with damp problems that can be costly to repair.

But we know, the thought of having to remove and replace a sink drain can seem daunting, especially if you have not done it before. 

Quickly you can find yourself overwhelmed and unsure what your next step is.

But no more! Today, we are here with the answers you need. Keep reading to find out how to remove your kitchen sink drain and replace it today.

Why Is My Kitchen Sink Drain Leaking?

First, let’s start by looking at some of the reasons why your sink drain could be leaking.

There are lots of reasons why this could be happening, but let’s start with the most common issues.

Knowing why your sink drain is leaking can help you fix the problem quickly, so take some time to examine your sink drain and see what’s going on!

A Broken Seal 

If the plumber’s putty around a joint is too thin, then water can seep through, causing a leak in your sink drain.

The Putty Has Perished 

If the putty on your drain is old, it is likely to have dried and perished. As it dries, it becomes brittle and can no longer contract and expand correctly.

You will notice cracks in the putty and parts of it might break off too. 

The Drain Wears Out 

Although stainless steel drains are durable, they aren’t immune to corrosion.

If you notice signs of corrosion on your drain, you might need a new drain or sink basket to prevent further leaks. 

What Type Of Basket Strainer Do I Have? 

Now, there are a few different types of basket strainers out there.

Their job is to collect larger items that can fall down your sink, like chunks of food, a marble a child has thrown down there, or bottle lids.

Sometimes, the leak can be caused by an item that has lodged there, or the strainer itself could be causing the leak. 

How To Remove Kitchen Sink Drain

Let’s take a look at the different types of strainers to help you identify yours. 

Locknut Strainer 

Newer homes tend to have these strainers. They look like a ring surrounded by threads that features a rubber washer that sits between the head and strainer seals, preventing any water from seeping through gaps. 

Locknut Strainer With Screw Attachments 

These strainers feature a plate that sits over the threads with screws in three or four corners to secure the plate to the sink. 

Bell Washer Strainer 

These strainers enclose the strainer completely and feature a single nut that connects the housing to the strainer. 

How To Remove A Sink Drain

Now that we have identified the cause of your leak and the type of strainer that you have, it is time to remove the sink drain!

We recommend that you read through the steps first and ensure that you have the correct tools for the task.

Remember, these steps are only a guide. You might find the removal tricky and need to hire a professional to help you. 

Let’s look at how we remove a sink drain now!

Disconnect The Drain 

Your first step is to disconnect the drain from any piping. To start, place a cloth or towel on the floor or inside the cabinet to soak up any water.

You will also want to have a box or tray to store your screws or washers in safely.

Locate the coupling nut that connects the sink strainer to the pipe. This will either be PVC or metal and tends to be fairly easy to find.

If the coupling is PVC, you can turn it counter-clockwise to loosen it by hand. Metal nuts can be tougher and require an adjustable wrench turned counterclockwise to loosen them. 

Your basket strainer might spin as you loosen the nut. Take pliers to hold the strainer in place at the top.

Here you might need to ask for a second pair of hands to help you, or you can do it yourself if you can reach. 

Once the fitting is loosened, the pipe should come loose. As an optional step, you can also disconnect the drainpipe where it connects to the P-trap.

This should give you some more room, making it easier for you to repair. 

Loosen The Sink Strainer 

If the sink strainer has screws, you will want to remove them using a screwdriver.

Make sure that you are using a screwdriver with the same size head as the screws. Pop the screws in a tray and take the plate out. 

If the strainer has a single locknut, loosen this as you did with the coupling nut earlier.

You might have to use an adjustable pipe wrench or locknut wrench to move it, which you can purchase from a local hardware store. 

Once loosened, the fitting should spin smoothly. Next, unthread it and check the rubber washer.

If it is in good condition, this can be put in again once the work is complete. If it is worn, then it’s worth replacing it.

These washers tend to be affordable and you can replace them easily now everything is disconnected.

My Connections Have Rusted Together – What Do I Do?

If your screws or nuts are rusted, then removing them can be a challenge, and we recommend you contact a professional to remove them.

How To Remove Kitchen Sink Drain

If you want to do the work yourself, you will need to be careful here. 

You can apply WD40, lemon juice, or cola to the nuts and screws.

These will help to dissolve the rust and are all affordable to purchase. Allow the liquid to saturate the nuts for roughly five minutes.

Then you can try turning the screw or nut. If they still can’t turn, apply some more liquid and wait again. 

If this method doesn’t work with a wrench or pliers you might need to cut through the metal and chisel the rust and residue.

You can do this with a rotary multi-tool and a blade that will cut through the nut.

Work slowly here as you don’t want to slice the drain or cut the pipe. 

It can be difficult to get rusted screws out. We suggest that you take pliers to twist the thread-end. Again, work slowly here so the thread doesn’t snap.

Remove The Sink Drain

Now the fixture, plate, or nut is loosened, it’s time to twist the basket strainer.

If it doesn’t move, you can give it a jiggle to help dislodge any sealant that might be lingering.

You can also take pliers or a chisel to chip away at any sealant that won’t budge. 

If you find this doesn’t help, take a mallet and gently hammer the bottom, taking care as you do to avoid damaging the sink drain.

Once loose, wiggle it until it pushes out entirely. Once the sink drain is removed, you can take a plastic knife to scrape any plumber’s putty from the opening where the sink drain sits. 

We recommend using a plastic knife so that you don’t scratch the stainless steel.

Scratches are the perfect place for moisture and dirt to build up, causing damage to your metal, so it’s best to avoid them where possible! 

Finding A New Sink Drain 

Now that your sink drain is removed, it’s time to choose your new drain! Drains come in a standard size, but you will want to check how the drain connects to your sink.

If you are unsure, it’s best to take the part you removed to a hardware store and let them choose the correct drain for you. 

You will also want to purchase a new gasket, plumbers putty, or a non-water-based silicone and a putty knife. 

Do I Use Silicone Or Plumbers Putty?

For new and modern sinks, you will want to use silicone. How do you tell? Well, when you removed the drain you will have seen silicone or a gasket sealing the joint.

If you aren’t too sure, then it’s best to check with the manufacturer of your sink and drain to see what they recommend. 

If you want to, you can purchase these parts online, along with your new drain, but we recommend doing so carefully.

It’s best to order these items ahead of time so you can continue with the work rather than your sink being out of commission for a week.

For those that are unsure what parts they need, we think it’s best to call a hardware store and get some expert advice! 

How To Install A Kitchen Sink Drain

Now it’s time to install your new sink drain. You’ll be pleased to know that this is an easy process and can be done by following our steps below, so let’s get into it! 

To start, take a ping pong ball size of a plumber’s putty. It’s always better to use a little more as you can scrape any excess away once the sink drain is installed.

Roll the putty into a cylindrical shape making it as thick as a pencil. You will want the putty to be long enough to circle the drain opening. 

If you need more putty, you can add more putty and roll the two pieces together.

Lay this ring around the sink opening, placing it as evenly as you can. Next, take your new drain and grate and press them down firmly. 

Continue pressing until any excess putty is pushed out of the sides. This can look messy, but it’s the best way to get a strong seal!

Gaps in this layer can lead to a leak with water dripping through them. Once you have pushed the drain down, take a putty knife and remove any excess. 

Next, take a damp rag and wipe the drain and remove any grease. You can take some warm soapy water here to remove any fingerprints from the drain. 

Now, putty alone isn’t enough to secure the drain and basket in place.

The pressure from water when it comes down your kitchen sink will make the pipes rattle, causing them to come free from the housing quickly.

So, use the above steps and work backward to ensure they are secure.

How To Remove Kitchen Sink Drain

Secure Your Work 

To secure your work, you will want to remove the packaging from your new parts.

We will work from the bottom of your sink strainer to secure it, with a different method for a bell, plate, or nut design. 

If your model has a bell wash strainer, fit it over the drain sink. Take the lock nut provided to secure it in place.

We recommend using pliers or a pipe wrench to tighten it in place. 

If the model uses screws and a plate, put the plate with the hole in the center, lining up the holes for your screws. Next, tighten them, taking care not to strip the heads. 

For those with a single nut, thread the lock nut onto the thread and screw it into place clockwise.

You can often do this by hand. You will want the nut sitting flush against the bottom of the sink and strainer. 

Re-Connect The Drain Pipe 

You are almost done! Now, how you attach the pipe depends on the nut you have.

For those with metal nuts, take a wrench and twist it clockwise into place. For those with a PVC nut, use your hand to twist the nut clockwise.

Testing For Leaks 

To finish, you will want to test for leaks. With the plug in the drain, fill your sink.

Place a paper towel on the drain pipe. If your towel is wet, remove the drain and reinstall it. If it is dry, your work has been a success. 

You can also test for leaks by removing the plug and letting the water drain.

Again, if the paper stays dry, your work is fine. If water does come through, try tightening the nut to see if that helps.

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it, a step-by-step guide to removing and replacing a kitchen sink drain!

Although it can seem daunting, the process is fairly simple and can be done in an afternoon. Why not try it today?

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age