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And Away Go Troubles Down the Drain

Why Is Your Kitchen Sink Leaking? Common Culprits

Close-up of plumber using wrench to fix faucet
When water comes out of your kitchen sink in places other than the faucet, you have a problem. A variety of problems can cause a kitchen sink to leak. Some of these issues are fairly minor and will only require a quick fix, while others are serious problems that will require the expertise of a professional plumber.

Before you start taking apart pipes or fishing around in the drain, take a look at the possible problems that can impact your kitchen's plumbing. While you'll likely still need a plumber to help, reviewing the potential situations that can affect your sink may help you to better understand when you'll need to call a pro.

Loose Joints

Look under your sink and what do you see? You'll find a small maze that includes vertical, horizontal, and curved (such as the p-trap) pipes. Even though these pipes form one continuous drainage system for your kitchen sink, they are made from several smaller components that are fastened at joints.

The joints make it easier to find the correct fit when installing the pipes. They also make it easier to take apart the under-the-sink plumbing. Instead of having to remove everything, you or the plumber may only have to remove one segment.

Even though joints make some plumbing repairs easier, they're also a common source of leaks. Over time the connections between two segments can loosen or corrode if they're made from metal. Along with connector wear, the washers within the pipe joints can also start to breakdown.

What happens when the joint connectors start to loosen and washers start to wear? The common result is a leak. If the connections aren't completely worn or corroded (again, only in metal — PVC plastic pipes won't typically corrode), you may be able to tighten them. Avoid overtightening, as this action can strip or break the screw-in parts of the pipes.

If the joints are badly worn, warped, or won't fit correctly, call a plumber. While it's tempting to cover the joint in Teflon plumber's tape, that's a temporary fix that won't stand the test of time.

Sink Basket Strainer Leak

The basket strainer is the part of your kitchen sink that sits at the bottom of the bowl. It's the water's first stop as it flows from the faucet into the drain. An improperly installed sink basket strainer will allow water to flow freely, completely missing the drain. This can cause a major leak.

If your sink basket strainer is slightly skewed (not centered in the drain hole), loose, corroded, chipped or in any other way broken, you have a problem. Unless you have expertise in this area, calling a plumber is the easiest and least time-consuming way to correct the problem. A DIY fix may lead to another leaky basket strainer.

Cracked Pipes

The joints are tight, the sink basket strainer is perfectly placed, and water still drips below the kitchen sink. What is at fault? While there are a number of possibilities, a cracked pipe is a potential issue that could cause a sneaky leak.

Keep in mind, even a hairline crack can cause water to leak out as it makes its way to the drain. PVC is one of the most common types of materials that kitchen plumbing systems are made from. These white pipes are extremely durable. Even though they're not likely to corrode, these pipes can crack. If the pipe cracks, you'll need a plumber to replace it.

Taping the cracked area isn't a permanent fix. The same goes for corroded metal pipes. While metal won't crack in the same way that plastic will, it may develop holes (due to corrosion) over time. A plumber can replace corroded metal pipes with new PVC pipes.

Do you need help with a leaky kitchen sink? Contact Roto-Rooter for more information.