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Plumbing 101: A Deeper Understanding Plumbing in the Kitchen

Plumbing 101: A Deeper Understanding — Plumbing in the Kitchen

In Plumbing 101 we looked at the basics of residential plumbing, provided a handy dandy Plumbing Glossary of Terms, and began a deeper dive into understanding soil stacks, traps, supply systems, cutting and fitting pipes, valves, and so on.

We continue that deep dive from another perspective — location. In a previous post we looked at the bathroom plumbing in your Huntsville, AL home, and in this post we continue with plumbing in the kitchen.

The activities below are do-able by Do It Yourselfers who are comfortable with home improvement projects and are familiar with basic plumbing principles.

If any of these activities seem beyond your grasp or comfort level, call your Huntsville, AL plumber or a plumbing contractor to tap into their repair and renovation expertise. Better safe than sorry.

Installing Kitchen Sinks

This assumes you are replacing a kitchen sink and NOT upgrading countertops.

This assumes you are not installing a larger sink, one that would require cutting a bigger hole in the countertop.

This also assumes you have disconnected the water supply lines from the faucet, the garbage disposal, and anything else you might have connected like a water filter.

  • With the old sink removed, measure the precut countertop opening so you will purchase the right sink size at a Huntsville-area home improvement center or builder’s supply.
  • Once the new sink is purchased, do a “dry run,” test fitting the sink in the countertop opening and making sure it’s level.
  • Apply plumber’s putty around the sink’s drain hole and seat the strainer assembly. Flip the sink upside down, tighten the drain nut and “tailpipe” piece.
  • Flip the sink upright and install the faucet, valves, and handles. Tighten down these and hook up the water lines to a tee fitting. Tighten securely but do not over tighten.
  • You can also hook up the water lines coming into the valves and avoid doing that once the sink is set.
  • Set a “self-rimming” sink in the hole and fasten any included mounting clamps underneath. Run a bead of clear-drying caulk around the rim.
  • If the sink isn’t self-rimming, run a bead of plumber’s putty on the bottom of the lip and caulk the opening to keep water out. Seat the sink and tighten any clamps.
  • Remove any rags or cap blocking the drain stub and glue on a threaded adapter to the stub. Screw on a trap to the adapter threads and sink drain.
  • Screw on water supply lines (if you haven’t already) and attach them to the shut-offs. Use a “two-headed” shut-off if you’re also going to connect to a dishwasher.
  • Run some water down the drain to block sewer gases, and check each line and drain joints for leaks. Checking for drain joint leaks is important because even the slightest misalignment may induce a tiny leak that’s invisible to the eye.
  • If you discover a leak you will have to troubleshoot it yourself. Be patient. Find where the leak is originating. Are the pipes slightly misaligned? Do you have the right pipes connecting? Are the nuts tightened securely but not over-tightened, which can introduce torque and stress on the pipes.
  • If a leak persists, you may need to call your Huntsville plumber, a plumbing contractor, or even a handyman experienced with plumbing.

Hanging Garbage Disposers

The garbage disposer is normally installed with the sink. But what if the one you have fails or is too small to meet your needs and needs upgrading?

Installing a garbage disposal is something most Do It Yourselfers can handle themselves and does not require hiring a Huntsville plumber. However, working in the tight spaces underneath a sink and making the proper connections may flummox some people, and if that’s the case for you call a plumber or handyman.

  • A special strainer and mounting assembly usually come with the disposer or sink. Attach the assembly with a snap ring and secure it with its included fasteners.
  • Hang the disposer on the mounting assembly and line up its drain hole to face the other sink’s drain. Attach the discharge tube to the disposer’s housing.
  • Fit the drain tube into a tee that connects to the other sink drain and the trap. Tighten those connections. Then connect the sink trap to the waste pipe.
  • Most disposers have an inlet that connects to the dishwasher drain. (See the dishwasher section below.)

Hooking Up Dishwashers

Again, if you are replacing an existing dishwasher, measure the existing opening — height, width, even depth — to make sure the new appliance will fit.

  • Assuming the fit is good and manageable, position the dishwasher so you can feed its flexible drain hose to the sink.
  • Fit a hose clamp over the pipe end and attach it to the dishwasher’s waste discharge outlet. Clamp an adapter fitting on the pipe’s other end and attach it to the disposer’s inlet. This way the dishwasher’s waste water and debris will run through the disposer, then the drain system; which will prevent clogged lines.
  • Loop the drain hose high up under the sink so if there’s a clog in the sink drain, it won’t immediately run down into the dishwasher. Some local codes may require additional measures to prevent this.
  • Run a copper hot water line to the dishwasher’s connection. Run the other end to the two-headed water shut-off. Briefly run the dishwasher through its cycles and check the connections for leaks.
  • Don’t forget: When you push the dishwasher back into the opening, make sure the appliance is level and fits securely.

Installing a dishwasher can be tricky for even experienced Do It Yourselfers because, for one, not all openings are cut perfectly and may require some “elbow grease” to position snuggly into place. Working with the hoses and connections in tight quarters also can be frustrating.

If you encounter any of these difficulties, call your Huntsville plumber for assistance or even a handyman.

If you bought the dishwasher through a home improvement center like Lowe’s or Home Depot with the intention of installing it yourself, then you change your mind, return to the store and schedule one of their installers to come to the house to finish the job if you choose not to use your Huntsville plumber.

Repairing Double-Handled Kitchen Faucets

  • If the kitchen faucet is leaking, a washer (for compression) or O-ring (for cartridge) (various schematics) probably needs to be replaced.
  • Pry off the handle’s decorative cap to access the knob screw. Unscrew and remove the knob to expose the stem. Make sure the water is turned off.
  • For a compression handle, loosen the “packing” nut holding the stem. Remove the stem, flip it over and check the condition of the washer and O-ring. Replace the washer and O-ring if they show any wear or fraying. These parts are available at Huntsville home improvement centers, larger hardware stores, and plumbing supplies. Before you buy replacement parts, note the manufacturer and model of the faucet so you purchase the correct pieces.
  • A cartridge handle (various schematics and images) is repaired about the same way. Lift out the cartridge, check the O-rings and replace them as needed. As a last resort, replace the cartridge if the leak persists.
  • Re-install the assembly, turn on the water and check for drips. If a compression faucet still leaks, the seat where the valve seals may need to be cleaned, or re-cut with a seat cutter tool.
  • To stop a leak around the handle, add a packing washer over the stem. If an old compression type handle still leaks, remove the packing nut and wind packing (a string gauze) around the nut to seal the assembly.

Fixing Ball-Type Kitchen Faucets

A ball faucet can leak in several places: around the handle, spout, collar, base. Fixing your faucet may only involve one of these steps.

  • Locating the leak and shut off the water.-
  • Remove the set screw holding the handle.
  • Using the kit’s wrench, snug down the adjusting ring if it’s loose and slowly turn the water back on to see if the leak has stopped.
  • If the ring is already tight or the leak persists, turn off the water and remove the adjusting ring.
  • Take off the plastic or ceramic cam piece and its seal that sets on the ball valve. Replace the seal if needed. Make a note of how the ball valve slot lines up with its small alignment pin then remove the ball.
  • Most models have two rubber seals and springs that set under the ball. Remove them, clean out any deposits and replace with new seals and springs. These are available at Huntsville home improvement centers, larger hardware stores, and plumbing supplies. As always, make note of the manufacture and model of the faucet so you buy the correct replacement parts.
  • On the outside of the housing, cut off the rubber O-rings and roll on new ones and re-install the faucet.

Repairing A Single-Handle Cartridge Faucet

  • After locating the leak and shutting off the water, pry off the faucet’s top cap, remove the screw and lift off the handle piece.
  • Remove the lock nut and retaining clip holding the cartridge in place. Lift out the cartridge and inspect its seals. In most cases, the cartridge piece doesn’t need replacing, but any worn or frayed seals should be replaced.
  • While the cartridge is out, inspect and replace the O-rings on the outside of the housing. Just cut them off and roll on new ones.-
  • Re-insert the cartridge, align it as removed, and pop on the retaining clip. Fit the faucet back on and tighten down the lock nut. Re-position the handle, screw it down and put the cap back on.