Ah, the miracles of running water. You don’t fully appreciate it until you have to wash your dishes in a bucket with the garden hose for a few weeks. The utilities– plumbing, electric, HVAC — have always been my second choice for DIY projects. There’s part of me that still thinks there is some big trick to plumbing or wiring something that only the professionals know. But the truth is, with the Internet and a little common sense these basic around-the-house tasks make good little DIY projects. (Though it is hard to say if spending a considerable amount of time wedged under a cabinet is actually less hassle than calling a plumber.)
Let’s have some plumbing fun.
What I used:
- Sink drain
- Plumbers putty
- Adjustable wrenches
What I Did:
A drain is a fairly straightforward thing to install. I was working on a new sink, but if you’re working on an existing one, you’d essentially do this process in reverse to get the old one out first. (And make sure you have a bucket handy for water when disconnecting the P-trap.)
The drain should come with everything you need for installing, except for plumbers putty.
I rolled a long snake of putty and put it around the drain opening:
Then put the top part of the drain on and tightened it down using the rubber washer, fiber washer, and nut (in that order).
When it’s good and tight, the putty will have smushed out of the top a bit.
I used a utility knife to trim away the excess.
Then connected the P-trap to the bottom of the drain. Both the drain and the P-trap came with compression nuts for this part, and the P-trap came with a small plastic washer.
I used the plastic nut that came with the P-trap because it didn’t require a wrench. There were plastic “tabs” I could use to hand tighten. And that’s all there was to putting in a new drain. Also, this is not a picture of the way your under-sink plumbing should look. After the rough plumbing was in we decided to keep a door opening next to the sink and that changed all of our cabinet widths, resulting in some, er, creative plumbing on my end to get the drain attached. Plumbers, I’m sure you all just cringed at that, but talk to me after you’ve spent weeks washing dishes at the water pump. It works, and that’s what I was most concerned with.
A more appropriate example of under-sink plumbing would look like this:
Note the lack of accordion-pipes.
Drains are easy. Faucets require more tools and more time contorted under the sink in back-breaking positions. If you need to remove the old faucet, shut off the water supply (there should be two knobs– one on each pipe that leads up to the faucet) then there’s probably some investigative work to do on how to detach those pipes– usually a nut at the top, connected to the faucet– and then how to disconnect the faucet itself. It will likely be held in place with nuts under the sink, or covered bolts on top of the sink.
Sinks come with two, three, or four pre-drilled holes.
Buy your faucet appropriately. (I didn’t, which meant drilling an extra hole in the stainless steel sink. That was fun on the drill bits.)
Most faucets come with a plastic gasket that goes between the sink and the faucet. If it doesn’t here’s another place you can use a snake of plumbers putty. This faucet is held under the sink with a couple of nuts. Here are all the components.
There are also faucets that mount with bolts on the top, which is something you may want to consider, because otherwise everything that happens from here on out is going to require wedging yourself into tiny little spaces and working with no blood left in your fingers. Much respect to plumbers who do this day in and day out. I don’t know how.
The nuts are attached and hand tightened.
Then, if you have flexible piping from the hard line, it’s fairly easy to bend and attach.
Plumbers, feel free to disagree, because I had a serious internal debate about whether or not to use plumbers tape on these threads. I went with not, and tightened them down real well with an adjustable wrench, which was no small feat. After a couple of tests where I determined there wasn’t the littlest bit of leakage, I decided “not” was the correct answer.
This faucet came with a hand sprayer, which went in a fourth hole…
…and attached to the middle part of the faucet (directly under the spigot).
All in all, a simple DIY project.
Got any tips for changing faucets, drains, or fitting into that tiny little space under the sink? I’d love to hear ’em.