Flex your DIY muscles and install a kitchen sink drain on your own
Get quotes from up to 3
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.
Without a drain, a kitchen sink is just a huge bowl—so you want to keep that drain operating at peak performance. Replacing the sink drain as a repair or as part of a larger sink installation isn’t as tricky as you might think. This is a labor-intensive job, so going DIY can save you some money as long as you have the right tools, materials, and attitude.
Difficulty: Medium (2/5); Flex your DIY muscles.
Total Project Time: 45 minutes to 2 hours. Not all sinks are the same, and project time increases if the new sink features a different design from the old one.
Cost: $15 to $30. This task requires some common tools you likely already have, aside from the drain itself and related accessories.
What You’ll Need
Kitchen drain trap kit(Video) How To Install Kitchen Sink Drain Strainer, Stop Leaks
Sink drain and strainer
Hacksaw or PVC tubing cutter
Prepping to Buy a Kitchen Drain Trap Kit
Replacing or installing a new sink drain is not a difficult task, though you need some general knowledge of how plumbing systems work. Before getting started, make sure your drain trap kit matches your sink. Basket strainers, for instance, come in various sizes.
In rare instances, the drain outlet is too high to reach the P trap, and you’ll need a pro to move it. Measure the drain outlet height, which we cover below, and give the sink a quick cleaning.
Install a Kitchen Drain in 6 Simple Steps
1. Measure Drain Outlet Height
Photo: Paul Bradbury/KOTO / Adobe Stock
Before buying a new kitchen sink or drain-related components, check the height of the trap arm on the pre-existing model. This trap arm is the horizontal piece between the U-shaped trap bend—otherwise known as the P trap—and the branch drain pipe in the wall. This trap arm should slope around 1/4 inch per foot for correct drainage.
Grab your tape measure, and measure from the floor or the bottom of the sink cabinet to the center of the trap arm. You want this to measure 16 inches or below. If the height is more than 16 inches, the drain height needs to be lowered, which we cover in the next step.
2. Lower the Drain Outlet
Photo: Jo Ann Snover / Adobe Stock
Skip this step if your trap arm measurement came in at 16 inches or below.
This is the hardest part of the job and requires professional expertise to cut away the back of the cabinet and a bit of the wall surface. Contact a plumber for guidance, especially if the thought of opening up your wall gives you a case of the queasies.
Luckily, most trap arm measurements come in at 16 inches or below, and there are options worth considering that don’t involve cutting into the wall, such as installing a low-inlet trap. These specially designed P traps allow for a shorter-than-average connection, while still creating a severe enough bend for proper drainage. However, these parts don’t work in all kitchens and sinks, so talk to a pro before opening up your wall or opting for a low-inlet P trap.
3. Install the Strainer
Photo: mehaniq41 / Adobe Stock
Before purchasing a drain assembly kit, make sure the basket strainer fits your drain. Use your current strainer as a guide when buying a new one. As long as the strainer fits, the installation process is relatively simple.
Start by disconnecting the drainpipe with a sturdy pair of pliers, and turn the metal fittings until separation. Work slowly and carefully, so you don’t cause any damage.
Remove the pipe from the tailpiece on the underside of the drain.
Lie under the sink and push the old basket strainer up and out of the appliance. If necessary, unscrew any nuts connected to the strainer with a wrench.
Apply plumber’s putty to the underside of the lip of the basket strainer. Wrap the putty around the entire strainer. The intent here is to use the putty to create a watertight seal.(Video) How to Replace A Kitchen Sink Strainer
Push the strainer back into the exposed sink drain. Press firmly to create a seal and wipe away any excess putty with a cloth.
Fit the new rubber washer on the bottom and then screw on the friction ring.
Reconnect the nut. Tighten by hand at first and then finish tightening with the wrench.
As a note, this is also a good time to install a garbage disposal, if you have one.
4. Connect the Drainpipe to the Sink
Photo: photovs / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Now that your strainer is connected correctly, it’s time to attach the drainpipe. Your drain assembly kit includes all the necessary components to make this connection.
Start by attaching the brass tailpiece to the bottom of the basket strainer. Line up the tailpiece via connection threads on the bottom of the strainer and screw it on tight with your hands.
Place a rubber compression gasket on the side of the drainpipe that connects to the tailpiece. It fits snugly in place and creates another watertight seal.
Hold the top of the drainpipe against the bottom of the tailpiece. Be firm but gentle to avoid any accidental damage.
Pull up the connector ring so it covers both the bottom of the tailpiece and the top of the drainpipe. It should align with the remaining connector threads on the tailpiece.
Tighten this connector ring by hand at first and finish it off with a wrench. Don’t overtighten the ring to avoid damaging the plastic.
5. Connect the P Trap to the Wall Drain
Photo: Monkey Business / Adobe Stock
Now you’ll connect the P trap to the wall drain. The good news? This DIY is almost complete.
In most cases, this process is simple. Use the remaining connector ring or slip nut to attach the other end of the P-trap to the wall fitting. Tighten it by hand and finish tightening with a wrench.
If the trap extends beyond the wall fitting, use a hacksaw or PVC cutter to trim the trap arm down to the appropriate length.
Once cut, align the trap to the wall fitting and ensure an appropriate length for proper drainage.
After that, connect the wall pipe to the trap by threading on the slip nut or connector ring, tightening by hand, and completing the connection with a wrench.
As with all of these tightening procedures, be firm but gentle enough to avoid accidental damage.
6. Test the Drain
Photo: Catherine Falls Commercial / Moment / Getty Images
Now the fun part: It’s time to test and admire the fruits of your labor. Run the water to test the drain, making sure that liquid effortlessly flows through the basket strainer and into the drain pipes and the rest of the system.
Pay special attention to the underside of the sink, looking for leaks. If you notice water leaking from the basket strainer, a loose connection is the culprit. Turn off the sink and retighten all of the connections. The same holds true for a leak at any pipe joint.
DIY vs. Hiring a Pro
This is a DIY-friendly project as long as your drain outlet height is under 16 inches and allows for proper drainage. There are a few potential hurdles later on, such as cutting the PVC pipe to the appropriate length, but you’ll feel accomplished after succeeding. If your project requires lowering the drain outlet, contact a pro. This likely entails some potentially destructive wall surgery, which demands expertise.
If a clogged drain is to blame for your kitchen sink woes, then consider calling a local drain cleaning pro so you can move on with your DIY weekend project.
It depends on what type of sink you are installing a drain in. Definitely use plumbers putty on stainless steel sinks, the rubber and slip washer go on the bottom. Many of the newer sinks will adversely react with plumbers putty and require silicone caulk. If in doubt check with your supplier.
If you are trying to use PVC pipe to transport fluid or gas, PVC cement or special push-on fittings are necessary to assure there are no leaks. Not all applications require a permanent seal like this, however.
The main difference between plumbers putty or silicone for sink drain is how easy the substances are to manipulate or remove. Plumbers putty is very easy to manipulate into tight areas, and it's also easier to remove. That makes silicone putty better for waterproofing, even if it's more difficult to work with.
The sink, faucet or shower can be used immediately after the part has been put into place. Run the water after installation to check for any leaks. If a leak is present, more plumber's putty can be added to remedy the situation.
Both plumber's putty and silicone are sealing compounds designed to provide a water tight fit for pop up drains, sink strainers, undersides of fittings, showers and drains. Plumber's putty is more traditional while silicone caulking is a more modern product, but either one (in most cases) can get the job done.
Start by adding plumber's putty to the underside of the basket strainer and fit it into the drain hole at the bottom of the sink. Then, tighten the nut with a basket wrench to secure it in place. You can then fit a brass tailpiece onto the bottom of the basket strainer, reconnect the drainpipes, and you're done!
This material transports nonpotable water down sink drains and other plumbing fixtures. PVC pipes under sinks include the P-trap that connects the drain to the house plumbing. Such pipes can be connected using threaded pieces or with glue.
Whether you have a single or double basin sink, the standard drain hole diameter is 3-½”. When not connecting to a garbage disposal, you will need a drain with a strainer flange and basket.
In general most vessel sink drains have a 1.5" diameter, so if you are using the "above counter method" of vessel sink installation, you simply need a 1.5" hole to accommodate the drain (or whatever size diameter hole your drain is).
The general rule of thumb is to provide a grade of 1/2 in. to 1 in. per foot for a minimum of 6 to 10 feet on all sides of the house. That's a drop of 5 to 10 in. over 10 ft.
Joining a pipe to a pipe fitting requires specially formulated primer and cement—no ordinary adhesive but a chemical solvent that melts the surface of the PVC and then quickly re-hardens to fuse the pieces together. The result is an airtight, leak-proof bond similar to what you get with welding metal.
'PVC glue' is also referred to as PVC cement or solvent cement, the official term for the product. There are solvent cements for a wide range of pipe materials, including CPVC, but the substance will only create an effective bond when used on the matching material type.
UniBond sanitary sealants are specially designed for use in the kitchen and bathroom; they create strong, flexible seals and offer long-term protection from mould. If you need to get a job done quickly and want to be able to use the sink soon after sealing, use UniBond Speed Sealant.
Water-based putty is intended for use on sink materials that oil formulas might damage. Oil-based putties should not be used on porous sink materials such as granite, plastics or marble. Read the label on your plumber's putty prior to use to avoid damaging your sink.
Both plumbers putty and epoxy pipe lining use epoxy for sealing water leaks. However, plumbers putty goes on the outside of plumbing pipes in order to temporarily stop a leak, while epoxy pipe lining is used to permanently stop leaks and restore the integrity of the plumbing pipe.
The air-tight seal can keep the putty malleable. The material should stay soft for significantly longer.
RELN Drainage Sealant is 100% silicone and designed to be used with Channel Drains, Catch Basins and Sewer and Drainpipe to prevent leaks by creating watertight connections at each drainage assembly point.
Making sure that your waste sits flush in your basin, apply silicone around the top of the waste's thread. Using your sealant gun, push this silicone into the gaps between the basin and the waste.
Both types of caulking are great options, so there's no reason not to choose either one. But if you're looking for something that's easier to use than plumbers putty, then silicone caulk may be the better option. Either way, remember that caulking is only as good as its application.
If you have 1 gasket it goes under the drain and over the hole in the sink. Lay the gasket over the hole in the sink and drop the drain into place. If you Have a second gasket it goes under the sink, around the drain and the place the retaining nut on and tighten.
The 1½-inch size is used to capture water that might flow out of a kitchen sink, a bathroom vanity or a tub. The two-inch pipe is commonly used to drain a shower stall or washing machine, and it may be used as a vertical stack for a kitchen sink. A three-inch pipe is what's used in homes to pipe toilets.
PVC. The leading choice in residential drain lines over the past four decades, PVC is a light-colored, highly durable plastic that resists the elements and appears to outlast all other piping materials.
Your drain's position will affect a number of things, including under-sink storage, faucet noise, and how easy it is to stack dishes.
3-hole sinks allow for two-handle faucets only without accessories. 2-hole sinks allow for a single-hole faucet, and an accessory, like a sprayer. 1-hole sink has no deck plate, and is designed for a single-handle faucet.
It's a bad plumbing practice to have a hard 90-degree bend in a horizontal drain line that's buried in a slab or otherwise hidden. If you have to make a 90-degree bend, use two 45-degree fittings and put a small piece of straight pipe between the fittings, if possible.
Increasingly, I'm finding that plumber's putty is not recommended for sink drains, especially if it has its own rubber gasket. In places where the manufacturer does not supply a gasket (and the flange is not metal) they suggest silicone caulk. Be sure to read the directions for your drain assembly!
An overflow hole exists for one purpose only, to keep your bathroom sink from flooding in the event you have a plumbing issue or if someone left the faucet on by accident.
If you need to stop or prevent leaks around your faucet, sink or tub drains − plumber's putty is the product you need. Plumber's putty is a sealing staple for professionals, homeowners and DIY-ers alike.
Sealing around kitchen sinks or sealing a sink drain with silicone will keep your sink in good condition and prevent future problems. Using a high quality, waterproof sealant prevents water and debris from entering the gaps.
Place a small amount of plumber's putty to the bottom of the new flange. The putty will create a seal around the sink drain. If you cannot use plumber's putty on your type of sink, a small amount of silicone caulk will do. Tip: Warm the plumber's putty by rolling it in your hands before applying it to the flange.
The good thing about pop-up emitters is that if there's no steady flow of water, the lid stays shut. That means no debris can make its way into the pipe. It's a great alternative to traditional drain grates that have a tendency to collect rocks, dirt or leaves that'll eventually clog the line.
Repairing pipes by relining
One method is to reline pipes. This versatile technology allows us to repair pipes without needing to dig. Firstly, high pressured water is flushed through the damaged pipe to remove debris, sludge and any scale.
If there's any chance you might have drainage problems, invest in pop-up drains or if necessary, something more robust like French drains. It is worth the time, effort, and money. The foundation of your house is perhaps the most important thing you should never see. And with proper drainage, you won't.
- Step 1: Shut Off Water Supply. ...
- Step 2: Loosen the Drainpipes from the Drain's Tailpiece. ...
- Step 3: Disconnect the Tailpiece. ...
- Step 4: Unfasten the Sink Drain Lock Nut. ...
- Step 5: Make use of Penetrating Oil. ...
- Step 6: Remove the Basket Strainer. ...
- Step 7: Clean the Hole left by the Old Drain Strainer.