Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Leaky drain!

Last week, Renae discovered that our kitchen sink drain had sprung a leak.  It was a slow leak and she mopped up the mess, put a bowl down to catch the leak, and we mostly stopped using that side of the sink for a couple of days.  After a few days I had enough time at night to tackle the problem.

The above photo is what the drain looked like before I started. Note the black smear around the joint right above the trap coming out of the garbage disposal.  That's where the leak was coming from.

I tried just tightening the joint by twisting the "nut" part, but it didn't help.  Then, I removed the trap and the piece above it, so I could get a better look.  (The top white piece is a 90 degree turn which connects to the galvanized pipe.  It was not leaking so I didn't want to touch it, if possible.)

The problem was that the extension piece which connected the trap to the 90 degree piece had been incorrectly installed.  The straight piece had been cut and the end of the trap it was connected to was not designed to allow a straight piece to connect to it.  The trap is designed for a 90 degree piece to be connected to it with a long end on it to go directly to the house drain.  But, in our kitchen the drain pipes were too high to do that. So I can't blame the previous home-owner for putting in the extension.

What I can blame him for was how he tried to make the joint watertight.  There was a thin bead of caulk used to "seal" the pipe.   I'm no plumbing expert, but I'm pretty sure that is not a recommended use for caulk.

I went to the home center and stared at the wall of drain fittings for a good half hour.  This type of fitting is called a "slip joint".  It is really simple to assemble and disassemble (for cleaning the trap if needed).  But the fittings only go together in certain ways.  Finally, I was able to use a flexible (bendy) tube to make it work.

The photo didn't turn out as well, but hopefully you can see I went from the trap (which is now turned out toward the camera in this photo) to a 90 degree fitting (as the trap is designed) to the flexible pipe to the 90 degree fitting which connects to the galvanized drain pipe.

So far, no leaks.

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