How to remove a kitchen sink drain: 3 Easy Steps

Kitchen sink drains can get clogged, leading to water that doesn’t drain or does so slowly. Luckily, there are numerous ways to remove a kitchen sink drain, below are some of them.

Let’s take a look at how we can remove the drains from a kitchen sink.


How to Remove and open a Kitchen Sink Drain

What you will need

Grab a bucket and towels as a kitchen drain can contain a lot of water. You can also wear gloves. Protective glasses are also recommended.  

For homeowners with a garbage disposal, it can be best to turn the electricity off. Read the instructions to see what you have to do.

If you have a dishwasher, you can remove the drain. Grab a bucket and have this nearby when you do this as this drain can contain quite a lot of water.

It is essential that you find a comfortable position as working under the sink is not easy. A foam pad can do wonders for your knees. You can also lay on your back but this can splatter water on your face. If you have used chemicals in the drain to unclog it you have to be careful and wear eye and hand protection.

You don’t always have to remove a kitchen sink drain. A plunger can often help to remove the clogs. This is quite easy to do. Just fill your sink with water and push the plunger on it. You have to cover the outlet with a cloth so air doesn’t escape through it.

Give it a few good pushes. We have discussed this in more detail here. Don’t use a chemical drain cleaner though as this can damage your pipes. Let’s discuss this in more detail below.

What type of drain do you have?

There is often a P-shaped plastic piece under your drain. This piece makes sure that water doesn’t get back in your sink. It also holds smells back. This piece contains some water though so this is the reason why we need the bucket.

You can start by decoupling that washing machine or other drains. This is often done by sliding the (flexible) pipe off the drain. It might contain some water so get your bucket ready!

Check the color of this part as this can give some good information. 

If the drain is grey, chances are that it is PVC and you might have to cut it open if there are no rings on it. This is done with a saw. Hold the PVC pipe tight so that the pipe in the wall doesn’t move too much. Once this is done, you can start cutting it. This can make it harder to reinstall the pipe afterward. 

Example of a PVC drain under a kitchen sink.

If the drain is white, it is probably possible to turn the rings (wider parts) on it to open it up. Often there is a small piece of plastic that you can open first to drain the pipe. Turning these rings is generally quite easy to do but you might need to use a tool to do this.

Just turn the rings counterclockwise and they will start to get loose. In most instances, it is possible to reinstall the P-trap once you have removed it. 

Example of a PP drain under the kitchen sink. You can turn the wider pieces to untighten the drain.

In some instances, the drain can be made out of metal. Often you can turn the rings (wider parts) as well. This will release the different parts and you can take them off. It can be a great idea to take some pictures so that you remember how everything fits together.

Example of a drain under a kitchen sink.

If the drain is black, chances are that it is made out of PP. If you are lucky, you can slide these outside each other as they use rubber rings to connect. This is quite straightforward to do. The rubber might have gotten quite strong over time so you can use some soap or vaseline to get them loose. If it has rings, you can often turn them to make it loose as well.

Not a lot of homes use this system though. It is possible that it is welded together and then you have to use a saw. This is more used in commercial buildings.

If the drain is brown, it can be copper. You might need a saw or cutter to get this open.

Things to take in consideration

If you are working on the drain of the sink, you have to be careful that the drain that disappears in the wall doesn’t come loose. If it falls in the wall, you might have to break it open to retrieve it. This is a pain so always check if this piece is stable and attached. 

Some older houses have an S-trap instead of a P-trap. In the past S-traps used to be popular. Nowadays we use P-traps as these work better. Therefore it is a great idea to replace S-traps in your house as it might not follow your local code anymore. Inspectors might write this down if you try to sell your house. It is often easy to replace this and can be a great way to get more money for your home.

Reinstalling the sink

Check your local code. In most instances, you can combine multiple materials in a kitchen sink. For example, if you removed a piece of PVC, you can replace it with PP or PE. This makes it easy to connect multiple materials. PP is easy to install as you just have to slide rubber rings into each other. Don’t use flexible drains. These might be cheaper but break quite easily.

Make sure that you get the right diameter as you can get more clogs if the diameter is too small. Test your work after installation to see if there are leaks or not. Make sure that you use a P-trap.

In smaller places, a bottle trap can be used. These work as well but can be more expensive. This is more popular in toilets as it is easier to clog if you have crumbs or other debris.

PVC has to be glued. We have discussed how this needs to be done here. Getting a P-trap with rings is the easiest way to reinstall a sink drain. You don’t need tools to do this as you just have to turn the rings.

Installing the kitchen strainer takes some work as this needs to happen precisely. You can add some plumbing putty to make sure that this doesn’t leak. Then tighten it by pushing it down and turning it around.

Another way to solve a clog.

If this didn’t fix your issue, and you already tried a plunger, it is possible that the problem is farther down the pipes. Once you have removed the P-trap, you can run an auger in the drain (get one here). This is quite straightforward to do but can damage your pipes if you don’t do it correctly. Read the instructions and wear protection to get started.

You can also use an attachment for your pressure washer to clean it. This is for advanced DIY’ers though as you can cause some damage if you do it wrong. Sometimes you just need to call the plumber as there might be a big problem farther away. Plumbers have cameras to see what is going on. Another problem might be that the drains are too narrow and that they have to be replaced. 

To conclude, we can state that removing the kitchen sink is often quite easy. After a few years, the fittings or attachments might have become quite tight so you might need to apply more force. Be careful that you don’t break the drain that goes into the wall. Get a bucket and protective gear before you start.

We have discussed how to remove a garbage disposal from a kitchen sink here.