Bathroom sink repair
  How to replace a bathroom sink trap.
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Bathroom sink repair

By Emerson Lockwood

A friend of mine had some trouble with a bathroom sink and discussed the best way to fix it with me. I offered some advice and asked him to document his adventure for the website and he agreed, this is his story…

My bathroom sink was draining very slowly so I tried some liquid Drano to help the flow, but after following the directions it continued to drain painfully slow. Since I did not have an auger handy I thought that I would try to free up the clog by sticking an unraveled clothes hanger down the drain. This was a bad idea! The photo below shows that the trap on the bathroom sink was very rusty and thin. The clothes hanger went right through the trap causing a major leak.


The inset in the picture below illustrates the clothes hanger sticking through the bathroom sink trap.

Bathroom Sink Trap

At this point I realized that I would have to replace the trap myself or call a plumber. I chose to replace it myself to try and save some money. This picture shows what the trap and pipes looked like before I started working on them.

Bathroom Sink Pipe

The amount of rust on these pipes is evident in the picture and I assume that these pipes have been in place since the house was built some decades ago.

It looked easy enough to replace the trap, simply get a pipe wrench and loosen the 2 nuts to remove the trap right? Well, I got a hold of the nuts with a pipewrench and began to turn; this is where things got really ugly. When I did this the rusted pipe that the trap was connected to decided to twist and break as well. This picture shows the results of trying to loosen the nuts with the pipe wrench. Now you can really see how rusty it was!

rusted bathroom sink pipe

Well, now I was getting frustrated with the whole bathroom sink trap repair that started out as a problem with the sink draining. I thought that I could simply remove the rusted pipe with the use of a hacksaw, get a fitting to connect a new plastic pipe to the old pipe and fix it. Here I ran into another problem.

It is difficult to see in this picture but the pipe that I wanted to remove was brazed onto the primary larger pipe.

bathroom sink brazed

This meant that using a hacksaw would not be enough.

I did use a hacksaw to remove the largest part of the pipe though.

Hacksaw removing sink pipe

Once the biggest part of the bathroom sink drain pipes were removed I had to use a torch to undo the brazing that was done. There are no photos of this because it is hard to take a picture and keep from burning the house down at the same time! Luckily the torch worked great and melted away the brazing that had been done, thus removing all of the rusted drainpipes.

A quick trip to the home improvement store and a mere $5.86 later I was able to start replacing the pipe. I used a larger plastic coupling with twist on nuts and gaskets to connect a new piece of plastic pipe to the old metal pipe. From this coupling I was easily able to connect the plastic pipe to the trap and to the sinks drain. I did, however, have to use the hacksaw on the new plastic pipe to get it the right length. I also used some sandpaper to remove the burrs on the new plastic pipe after hack sawing it.

The new plastic piping and trap came with the simple twist on nuts and gaskets and did not require any plumber’s tape or sealant. Here is a photo of the completed project.

new PVC bathroom sink trap

As you can see, I did reuse the two pieces of pipe that came straight down from the sink, one was plastic, and the other was not rusted through, but did require some cleaning.

I feel like I should offer a graphic warning for this next photo. This shows the piece of bathroom sink pipe that was the cause of the slow drain (which was the whole reason I started messing with it in the first place).

clogged bathroom sink

Finally, I have included a photo showing all of the required tools to complete the plumbing job. A pipe wrench, a torch, a hacksaw, sandpaper, a screwdriver, and pliers were all that were required. The screwdriver was briefly used to “help” get the new gasket onto the remaining old pipe that had been brazed. The pliers were simply used to hold the pipe while using the torch, the pipe got pretty hot!

tools used to repair bathroom sink

Total project time (including a trip to the home improvement store) was 1.5-2.0 hours. Total cost for the project $5.86!!! Could you imagine how much a plumber would have charged to come to the house and replace the pipe! I’m not sure what the exact rates would have been to get a plumber to do the job, but I know it would have been a lot more than $5.86.

I hope this article has shown you how easy it is to repair a bathroom sink trap and piping as well as shown you what not to do, like shove a clothes hanger down a rusted out clogged sink drain.

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