So it finally happened – the sink has started leaking! Bad for the water bill*, bad for the flooring, and especially – bad for your mental health if you know nothing about plumbing.

*or maybe not, we’ll get to that.

Repairing things at home is always a daunting task, even more so when it’s your first time dealing with a problem like that. But how hard can it be to fix a leaking sink? There are a lot of possibilities for what might have caused this problem, but we’re going to go through the most common ones and how you can singlehandedly take care of this situation. Yes, you! Let’s go!

Table of Contents

Locating the problem

First things first, let’s start by locating the problem. Equip yourself with a bucket or a large container, towel, flashlight and patience.

  • Empty your sink; you don’t want any dishware to be in the way.
  • Turn off the faucet (if possible).
  • If the faucet is dripping, place a large bowl under it to collect the water. You need to isolate this problem to see if anything else is contributing to the leakage.
  • Using the flashlight, inspect under the sink – is there any leakage when the sink is not being used? If the answer is yes, it’s most likely a problem with the water supply line.
  • Turn on the faucet (and remove the bowl first of course). Is there leakage now? Where does it come from? The things you should look for are mostly broken pipes, loosened up joints, damaged sealant. Doing this will give you an idea of what needs to be fixed,
  • If you’re lost in the terminology, here’s a little bit of plumbing vocabulary.
warning

Before you start to fix your sink, always turn off your main water valve. If you don’t do that, you’re going to have a flooded place and bring yourself additional problems.

Fixing your leaking sink

After locating the issue, turning off the main water valve and equipping yourself with the tools you need, it’s time to get to business so you can finally fix that leaking sink. Below you can find the most common problems:

Problems with the water supply line

After you’ve done your inspection and noticed that the leaking is constant and not only when you use the sink, then the problem is most likely in the water supply line. It’s under pressure all the time, which causes constant water dripping. So that’s why if there’s a problem with the valves or the supply line itself, it’s hard to miss it.

How to fix it: Try tightening the retention nut on the supply valve. If the leaking continues, the valves of the supply line need to be replaced. They can get loose from contraction/expansion, and they can deteriorate from age.

However, problems can also come from the water supply pipes. If they’re damaged and leaking, you can apply pipe sealant to stop the leak. If this doesn’t help, the whole system might need changing. If you’re not confident you can do that on your own, you can always call a professional plumber.

Burst pipes

This is a plumbing emergency, and it demands immediate attention, so let’s get straight to the point.

How to fix it: Start by closing the shutoff valve under the sink or the main water supply to your home. Be careful with any electrical connections that might have gotten wet during the accident. Turn off nearby appliances! We don’t want any electrocutions over here.

A temporary solution to stop the leaking is to duct tape it. Clean and dry the area before application. You can conceal pinpoint punctures but keep in mind that this might not hold up for too long, as the water pressure might loosen it until it starts leaking again.

A solution that will last longer is to secure the pipe with a sleeve clamp or a hose clamp. For the sleeve clamp, you only need to have a screwdriver (and a clamp that fits your pipe size of course). It can fix smaller to more significant leaks. It comes with a gasket material that you wrap around the pipe before securing the sleeve clamp. For the hose clamp, you will need a piece of rubber. Place it on the pipe and tighten the hose clamp around it. That should do it!

The best solution is to replace the burst pipe. It’s more time consuming and requires a bit more handiwork, but it’s the permanent solution to your problem. If you can’t figure out how to do that on your own, call a professional plumber.

tip

When cleaning up after a water leak, use fans to dry out your place. If possible, leave them running non-stop.

Leaking sink drain traps

This leakage type of leakage is only visible when the sink is being used. The pipes can be plastic or metal and the way you fix them is different.

How to fix it: If the drain pipes are plastic, try tightening the nuts with your hands. In case the leaking doesn’t stop, you can take the joints apart and add sealant to them or silicone grease. If that doesn’t help also, you might need to replace the pipes.

Check the material from which your pipes are made of – those that are metal like brass, copper, galvanise, etc., might be rotting, in which case, you will have to replace them. If not, just hand tighten the nuts and then with pliers.

Leaking P-trap (water trap)

Do you see that U-shaped pipe under your sink? That’s the P-trap. The p-trap has multiple services, one of which is stopping the sewer gasses from coming back in your home. Over time it can get clogged, which causes it to overflow and you can see the result of that as a leakage.

How to fix it: The solution to fixing a clogged P-trap is easy. Get a bucket and roll up your sleeves, as it’s going to get a bit messy. Put the bucket under the P-trap. Disconnect the trap and empty it in the bucket and then reinstall it back on. When you reassemble it, tighten the nuts but don’t over-tighten them.

Basket strainer leaking (sink drain)

One of the most common leaks in a household is leaky basket strainer. It can be caused by broken parts that need replacement. The good news is that you can get a new basket strainer assembly on a reasonably low price.

How to fix it: Unscrew the strainer and clean the surface of the sink until it shines and then dry it out. Inspect the assembly if it has broken parts. If it doesn’t, you can still reuse it but clean it and dry it first. In case it’s broken, use a new strainer. Repack with plumber’s putty. Clean up the excess putty with scrapers and dry cloth.

warning

When applying sealant or putty, you need to be working on an incredibly clean and dry surface and hands. Otherwise, they won’t bond.

Leaky faucet

Drip drip drip drip. It can make a person go insane. Not to mention the cost of the water bill at the end of the month.

How to fix it: First you need to find out which side of the faucet is dripping. The quickest way to do that is to place your hand under the dripping faucet and feel the water. If you’re still unsure or you think both sides might have issues, underneath the sink you should have two valves – one for the hot and one for the cold water. Turn off one at a time to determine which side causes the problem. After you’ve done that, turn on the faucet to empty it from any residual water.

Remove the handle and retainer nut. Pull out the cylinder. You can replace the whole cylinder with a new one or only its seals. In case the valve stem is ceramic, unscrew it and pull it out. Then remove the gasket and clean everything under running water. Add a bit of plumber’s grease and reassemble everything back together. You can use a new gasket if needed.

Mixer tap leaking

When the mixer tap is leaking, it usually drips underneath the sink, making the illusion the problem is somewhere down there.

How to fix it: First, turn the water off. Remove the handle and dome of the mixer tap. Inspect the locking nut – is it too loose? If yes, tighten it with a wrench and see if that fixes your problem. If not, continue disassembling the mixer tap. Near the base of it, there is a seal that might have ripped apart and needs replacing. If it’s intact, clean the built-up on and around it and assemble the mixer tap again. Gunk can be getting in the way and causing the leak.

Takeaways

  • Don’t postpone any plumbing problems. They won’t go away on their own and can only get worse with time. On top of that, you can have severe water damage which is a pain on its own, especially if you’re renting. So the sooner you fix any leaks, the better.
  • Before starting, turn off the water supply valve. You don’t want to flood your home.
  • Have a towel and a bucket nearby,
  • Don’t panic. You can do this.
  • Inspect, repair/replace, test. Always test at the end if you’ve successfully fixed your leaking sink. You can place some paper underneath and use it as an indicator, if the problem is still present.
  • And remember that you can always call a professional plumber to the rescue.

Do you have any plumbing problems? Did you manage to fix them on your own?
Leave a comment below and tell us about your plumbing situation.

  • Last update: July 29, 2020

Posted in All Articles, Home Improvement

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