DIY Disaster Doctor: Perplexing Plumbing Repair


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plumbing repairChris W. McDougall of Apex Home Inspection in Santa Cruz, CA (via The Money Pit. Used with permission of the ASHI Reporter

You’ve heard of the term “everything but the kitchen sink”? Well someone seems to have used everything in the kitchen — including a milk carton and a doorknob — to fix this sink.

Then, after some water and smelly sewer gas leaks, they gave up on ever using that sink again, and started doing dishes in the bathtub!

dishes in bath tubChris W. McDougall of Apex Home Inspection in Santa Cruz, CA (via The Money Pit). Used with permission of the ASHI Reporter

A simple, straightforward re-installation of the p-trap (the curved portion of pipe underneath the sink) is all that’s needed here.

A p-trap is critical to your sink’s mechanics — and to a pleasant home environment — because it seals off the connecting pipe with water to keep sewer gases from seeping into the room. Sometimes the trap will get so clogged with debris that it’s beyond the help of a good cleaning, and a new p-trap needs to be installed.

Again, this is a pretty simple DIY job. P-trap kits are available and come with all the parts you need, and can be easily hand-tightened when you’re doing the install. Things are a little more complicated if you’ve got a food disposer sharing the plumbing line, but not terribly so; just make sure you’re purchasing the right p-trap kit for the setup, and ask the folks at your hardware store or home improvement center for additional guidance. There’s even a cool new self-cleaning p-trap out now that makes it easier than ever to avoid future clogs.

Once you’ve installed the new p-trap, take steps to prevent future kitchen sink clogs and backups, such as periodically flushing the kitchen sink’s drain with a few gallons of boiling water to melt away accumulated grease and soap.

And if all else fails and you’ve got dishes to do, remember: there’s always the bathtub method that seems to be working for these homeowners! (Kidding…)

Can I Treat This Myself?

You most certainly can. Put it this way: if you can install a faucet or switch out a plumbing connection, you can definitely do this job.

Tom Kraeutler delivers home improvement tips and ideas each week as host of The Money Pit Home Improvement Show, a nationally syndicated radio program. He is also author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. You can also subscribe to Tom’s latest home improvement podcast or free home improvement newsletter.

** Got a DIY disaster you’d like us to feature? Send a photo of the disaster to, and we just might publish it here on DIY Life. All submissions will remain anonymous. **

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