Is Your Kitchen Sink Draining Slowly?
Two of the most frequently asked questions for our plumbers are about a homeowner’s sink. Why is my sink draining so slowly and why won’t my faucet stop dripping.
Slow Draining Kitchen Sink
If the sink is draining slowly it can be a nuisance and a cause for concern for the homeowner that worse problems lie ahead.
Many homeowners today have a double bowl sink with a garbage disposal on the right and a sink with a regular drain on the left. A plumber would help the homeowner to do some trouble shooting first.
For example, the plumber would inspect below the sink and might first do a test of the garbage disposal. Upon finding out that the disposal is functioning normally, he might move ahead to
check the pipes and look for obvious choke points.
The pipe from the disposal slopes downward into a T fitting that receives water from the sink and from the disposal. This is a potential problem area.
Another problem area is the trap, the lowest point of the assembly. The trap is a pipe that descends, then directs the water upward. The trap is almost always filled with water and performs the important function of blocking sewer gasses from entering into the house from
outside. A final choke point could be where the water from the trap enters the pipe that leads outside the house. The plumber usually begins by unscrewing a knob at the bottom of the trap and letting the water drain out into a pan. If the water easily flows out, the technician knows that the obstruction is somewhere else in the system. The plumber next loosens the fittings to all the pipes and examines each one in turn. If a pipe seems to be clear of obstruction, he moves on to the next pipe. A frequent offender is the T
fitting that receives water both from the disposal and from the sink.
Some T fittings have a flange that helps direct the water downward from the disposal and prevents some water from
spurting upward into the sink. The problem is that the flange decreases the size of the opening that water flows through
from the sink. A smaller opening because of the flange can create backups and cause the slow draining from the sink. The plumber can fix this issue by installing a T fitting that does not have the flange and allows the water to travel straight downward. Having isolated this as the problem, the plumber reconnects the fittings and checks to make sure that the system is water tight. He then fills the sink completely and releases the water to see if the sink now drains normally.
The homeowner might have more than one dripping faucet and would like to get them all fixed at once, so he or she should probably call the plumber if this is the case.
First, the plumber will determine if the leak is on the hot or cold water line. If he determines that the hot water is the culprit, the homeowner is not only losing the water, but also the energy
required to heat the water. For convenience, the plumber will probably put a hand towel in the sink to catch any parts that
are fumbled during the repair. A simple plumbing problem can become a big problem when the worker has to fish a crucial part out of the drain pipe.
As the plumber goes to work on the hot water side of the sink, he begins by gently prying off a decorative cap, so he can get to the screw that holds the faucet handle in place. Using a screw
driver to remove the screw, he then employs a crescent wrench to unscrew the cartridge nut.
This process unveils the plastic head for the cartridge.
Many do-it-yourself type people would next use a pair of pliers to yank out the cartridge. A careful technician, instead, takes time to note any protrusions or another anomalies that can tip
him off to how the new cartridge should fit.
He or she then grasps the cartridge firmly with pliers and slowly slides the unit out. He examines it carefully and might see that he just needs to replace the o-rings. These rings cost less than a dollar. But if the faucet was leaking at the head of the faucet, the best practice is to replace the entire cartridge. If the leak was just at the handle, replacing the o-rings may be sufficient.
Cartridges are available in a multitude of sizes and shapes, so he will need to take the old device to the hardware store to make sure the new one is similar to the one being replaced. Returning to the job at the home, the technician will see that the small cartridge’s protrusion matches with the notch in the faucet. With the new cartridge firmly in place, he will fasten the cartridge nut snugly. Checking to see that the newly inserted cartridge is in the “off” position, the plumber will reattach the handle, use the screw to firmly attach the assembly together and replace the decorative cap.
The worker can then test the system to see that it is operating smoothly with no leaks. Another frequently asked plumbing question with a leaky faucet is what to do when the faucet
might not have a cartridge but is built with stainless steel parts. Still leaks occur. Usually the fix in this situation is to replace the rubber washers that have become worn. If the system has been in use for many years, the screws that hold the assembly together might have become soft from being in water for so long. These screws can be difficult to remove, but once removed, should be replaced.
Frequently asked plumbing questions often revolve around the kitchen sink. Fixing a slow- moving drain and a leaky faucet can somehow brighten the atmosphere in the kitchen.