What Are You Sinking?
One of our regular calls is for the installation of sinks in kitchens and bathrooms. More often than we care to share, we get the call as a result of a DIY attempt during a sunny weekend, ending with a destroyed countertop and a pizza delivered to the home.
Replacing a countertop is perhaps a DIY job which can best be described one that looks easy to do, but is in fact riddled with landmines of potential of potential DIY disaster. Both the new sink and the old countertop can be pricey to replace if something goes wrong, and both are important operating components of the kitchen. Downtime counts in the kitchen!
On the internet you can find a DIY solution for just about everything. There are some things however that really shouldn’t be tackled as a DIY project – and installing a kitchen sink is one of them. There’s a reason a plumber shows up with a truck or a van full of tools and supplies!
Risk of Damage to New Counter With Sink Installation
Countertops are not only expensive, but are made of various materials which require both specific tools and skills for a sink installation job. Even a laminated countertop requires special care. The core of the counter is a pressed wood, which is soft, but the top is a hard plastic laminate. If you don’t use the right tools and create the exact opening size required – you can either damage the countertop or the sink during the installation process. Also, sinks can damage your countertop by simply using the counter as workbench.
The other consideration is damage to the countertop while handling to fit your new sink. In some cases – depending on the sink style – the counter is assembeled with the sink in place. With others, the counter may have to be removed before the sink can be installed. Sometimes, it may be just more convenient to remove the cuntertop if major plumbing or carpentry is required – like for example when installing an apron sink instead of a more conventional single or double basin unit.
Carpentry Preparation to Install a New Sink
Just about every sink is different. Surprised? Maybe not if you’ve been out looking and selecting your new kitchen sink. Not all sinks will work with all countertops styles and materials. But let’s assume you picked one out that will work and fit.
You’ll need to cut a hole in your new countertop surface and it has to be very close to exact. Some holes may seem rough and not well cut – but they actually – are if the sink fits. You’ll need to take exact measurements to ensure a good fit. If the hole is too large, it will either leave a gap on one side, or at worst – fall through the hole. The other risk in installing the sink yourself is that if the hole is not cut exactly, the fastening hardware (or adhesive) will not have a grip point on the counter.
Invariably, some carpentry work is required to fit a new sink into a laminate counter. If you’re contemplating the installation of a new sink into an existing countertop, then the sink must be exactly the same size in all dimensions as the old one. Some sinks may have the same overall measurement, but the depth of the basins may be too large.
If you don’t have anough room under the sink in the cabinet, because the bowl of the sink is too deep, then that could be another problem. Or, the distance between the drain points is not the same. In either case, you’re faced with a fair bit of plumbing work. You’d better stock up on plumbing pipe joints, elbows, couplings adhesives, sealants and clamps.
Any plumbing has two major forces at work – air pressure and water. All drain plumbing works by displacing the air as the water moves through it. If either the air intake (from the vent stack) or the pipe inside, is obstructed, the water won’t drain. Mixing up the pipes is one common cause of this drain problem.
Also, since all drains are gravity based – the pipe angles for all drain pipes will need to be according to the proper standards. Your sink installation may be the most straight forward situation possible, but unless you understand plumbing in general, it may be hard to tell. If you’re installing a new sink type (like going to a double basin from a single basin – or the other way round), the plumbing for your new sink will need to be changed.
Typically, the hot and cold water connections will need to be shut off. If you don’t have a local shutoff valve under the counter, you’ll have to turn the water off for your entire home – and install a local shutoff valve to isolate the sink connections. This is highly recommended, otherwise any time you need to have some work done, the entire home’s water supply will need to be shut off.
Caulking & Sealant Mistakes
A typical telltale sign of a DIY installation is improper caulking. If you see exposed caulking around the perimeter of a sink, it’s usually smacks of DIY. Why? Because sinks are designed to be sealed in hidden areas – like under the perimeter lip resting on the counter. Not around it. A typical DIY installation is often evidenced by much more sealant and caulking than is called for – and is applied for “good measure” or simply not to waste the rest of the tube.
Shoddy Workmanship Affects Home Value
We touch on this several times across this website. At any point you decide to sell your home, it will be inspected by the potential buyer’s home inspector. Although the overall quality of your DIY kitchen sink installation may be fine, any telltale signs of DIY home improvement work may lead to questions about the overall quality of workmanship across all the projects. All this simply means that any prospective buyer will consider the value of your home and all the improvements from the single perspective of “who did the work?”. Just think of how you would value a home, were you to be in the market, if you knew that all the work was done by the homeowner – as a non professional.
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