How to Replace a Kitchen Sink Strainer

Water pipe under kitchen sink
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Replacing a Kitchen Sink Strainer

A leaking kitchen sink strainer
The Spruce / Aaron Stickley

A leak under the kitchen sink could indicate that you need to replace the sink strainer. First, though, you need to locate the source of the leaking water and make sure there isn't a different source, such as a leaking pipe. But if you find that the leak's source is the joint where the sink and drain come together, a faulty sink strainer is the cause. 

Tools and Materials You Will Need

  • A new sink strainer (match the color of your existing strainer)
  • Channel-type pliers
  • Plumber’s putty

Remove the Sink Strainer

A sink strainer with pipes removed
The Spruce / Aaron Stickley
  1. Start by removing the pipes that are connected to the old sink strainer. Use channel-type pliers to loosen the slip nuts on the drain fittings, then pull the drain trap off the tailpiece of the sink strainer. 
  2. Once the fittings are out of the way, remove the old strainer nut with a large pair of channel-type pliers. This can be a little tricky sometimes. If the nut is corroded onto the tailpiece, then applying penetrating oil may help loosen it. If you cannot get a good grip on it, you may need to cut the nut out before you can remove the strainer
  3. After the nut has been removed, pull the old strainer out from the top of the sink. You may need to pry it up to break the seal with the old plumber's putty. 

Prepare the Drain and Sink Strainer

The parts of a disassembled sink strainer
The Spruce / Aaron Stickley
  1. Clean the area around the sink opening before installing the new strainer. There can be quite a bit of buildup from the old strainer, but it should clean up relatively quickly.
  2. Separate the various parts of the basket strainer, and spread them out within reach. Loosen the screws on the retainer.

Apply Plumber's Putty

A sink strainer with putty
The Spruce / Aaron Stickley
  1. Roll out a generous rope of plumber’s putty to a uniform width. Wrap it around the base of the strainer on the underside of the lip.
  2. Set the strainer into the sink drain opening, taking care to center it, and align it as needed. Push it down slightly to allow the putty to adhere to the sink a little.

Secure the New Sink Strainer

A new, fully assembled sink strainer
The Spruce / Aaron Stickley
  1. From the underside of the sink, first place first the flexible washer, then the metal washer into place over the body of the sink strainer. Hold them in place.
  2. Thread the retainer on before tightening the screws. Next, tighten the screws evenly and firmly with your hand. If you need to tighten a little more, then use a screwdriver or pliers to finish tightening. Take care not to tighten so much that the rubber washer squeezes out of the strainer under the sink.

Note: If the washer squeezes out no matter what, try to remove the washer and use extra putty on top of the metal washer.

Re-Install the Drain Pipes

A new sink strainer with pipes installed
The Spruce / Aaron Stickley

Finally, reinstall the pipes for the sink drain in the opposite order in which they were removed. Turn the water on and check for leaks.

Note: To be certain that there are no leaks, stop up the drain then fill the sink with water and release the stopper. The extra pressure of the suddenly released water can make leaks more obvious.