Fixing a Leaking Sink Drain

Another plumbing problem SOLVED! This is a little more difficult than the last plumbing leak we took on, but not by much. This is still a pretty simple repair.

Our kitchen sink is a generic and low-end stainless steel model. We don’t love it, but it does the job, other than the fact that it leaks everywhere. We have been keeping this giant blue bowl under the sink to help catch the water, but that’s really inconvenient since it’s also our only popcorn bowl. And it doesn’t catch all the water anyway, so what’s the point? The bottom of the cabinet shows a lot of signs of water damage, so we suspect this sink has been leaking for a really long time.

Popcorn bowl under sink.

We knew that the leak was coming from the joint between the sink strainer and the sink, so our first task was to remove the strainer. We didn’t realize it at the time, but in addition to the leaky strainer, there were also a couple of pinhead holes in the sink itself, but these were small enough that we never noticed them until we had the whole strainer taken apart.

The arrows point to the pinhead holes that we had never noticed before.

Here’s a shot taken from underneath the sink, looking directly upwards through the hole in the sink.

The holes in the sink were pretty obvious with the strainer removed.

I was hoping I would just be able to replace the rubber gasket and re-use the old strainer. Unfortunately, the threads on the old strainer were pretty rusty, and I wasn’t able to just unscrew it.  I had to get out the sawzall.

Sawzall.

This was my favorite part of the whole job, but I think it made Mel pretty nervous.

No match for the sawzall.

With the old strainer thoroughly busted, I headed off to the big-box store to buy a cheap replacement. This cost about $15.

Generic Strainer.

I also had to buy some plumbers putty, since I didn’t have any on-hand. I gave the inside rim of the sink a pretty generous ring of putty. This is probably way more than is actually needed.

Plumbers Putty.

To install the strainer, it’s really handy to have one of these: It’s just a fancy adjustable wrench made for just this sort of thing. This is one of those $20 tools that you can live without, but it’s sure nice to have when you need it. Luckily, we already had one from a sink we had installed in our last house.

Expensive tool that is nice to have but not necessary.

The new strainer installed without any problems, but we still had to figure out what to do about the pinhead holes in the sink. Since we don’t even really like the sink, the best solution would be to just buy a new sink, but we want to get a few more years out of this one before be tackle a full-scale kitchen remodel. For now, we’ve just used a quick band-aid fix to keep it from leaking.

New Strainer in place.

Since we didn’t have any epoxy handy, we decided to just use a little bit of silicon caulk on the underside of the sink. I just globbed some on over the holes. Eventually this fix will fail after the caulk becomes dry and starts cracking – but I’m hoping we can get a couple years out of it anyway. When that happens, I’ll try using some epoxy or JB Weld.

Band-Aids.

We let it cure for about 12 hours, then filled the sink up and let it sit for a few hours. NO LEAKS!

Success! Now I’m ready for some popcorn!

6 comments to Fixing a Leaking Sink Drain

  • Yay for popcorn! That’s a staple in our house.

    I think your “band-aid” solution is great. We have a crappy stainless steel sink, too, and we bought our new sink over a year ago, but never installed it. I’m sure glad we didn’t because the current sink has taken a wicked beating!

  • You earned that popcorn! That part of home improvement always makes me leery–you have the problem you know you’re going to fix, plus whatever surprises come up that you’ll have to fix too.

  • Very nice article! I was thinking maybe the chemical welder would be a decent interim solution.

  • Hey! I saw that you were nominated over at the JDR Blogger awards and I voted for you! Good luck!

  • Reuben, just noticed you commented on my blog and clicked over to yours. Well done on the sink patch job. It’s funny that you commented on my countertop post, because by the looks of it you have the EXACT counters we used to have! Creepy. Ok, back to work!

  • Dumb question: are all stainless sink drain thingys the same size? Mine was leaking, I went to see if it just needed tightening and the gasket and I guess big nut like thing just unscrewed. I am guessing it needs to be replaced….

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