Kitchen sink plumbing can seem like an intimidating projects for the diy homeowner handy person. But often times, these projects are not much more difficult to resolve than simply understanding how the various parts fit together and why.
The incoming water is provided by the fresh cold water and hot water from a hot water tank. Hot and cold water can be obtained separately from separate faucets or mixed together by a single faucet fed by dual valves. In some installations the temperature of the water from the mixer can be regulated so that it is always maintained at a safe level.
The faucet valves are available in various designs, and while the common compression taps with washers are simple to repair, some of the other cartridge types can be difficult or expensive to repair. When washer type valves wear out, the water starts to drip from the spout. New washers are easily replaced by anyone and for only a few dollars at most. Washerless faucets have o-rings that provide the seal, rather than washers. They are operated by a mechanism based on a disc, ball or cartridge.
These disc faucets operate by a pair of disks - and upper and a lower. As the user opens the valve, these disks move apart allowing for water to flow. and inversely as the disks are moved closer together, the flow is reduced until the water is shut off completely.
Ball faucets have a slotted ball that is aligned with water inlets by means of a lever - while cartridge faucets have an insert that seals off the spout. Most of these are mixer faucets with one handle, though it is possible to get disc faucets with individual hot and cold controls.
The water supply to the faucets can usually be turned off by an isolator valve that stops the flow of water to the sink, thus allowing repairs and maintenance to be carried out. This can frequently be found under the sink where the water supply enters through the wall or floor. There will be one valve for each tap - the hot and the cold.
The waste water plumbing provides a S bend or what's known as a p-trap. This funny looking S shaped piece of pipe under the sink prevents noxious fumes and odors from entering your home. The shape of the p-trap forms a seal between you and the sewage fumes by trapping a small amount of water in the s-bend. This seal is all that is needed to keep the fumes from entering your home.
The most common types are the P trap, S trap and Bottle trap. It's sometimes necessary to open the trap in order to clear a blockage caused by a build up of small objects that have accumulated over time. When you have such a blockage however, it can usually be easier to clear using a sink plunger. Note that a blockage might not be located in the trap, and a plumbers snake or other means of clearing a drain blockage might be needed.
If you have a waste disposal unit fitted, don't forget to keep it well maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions if any maintenance is required at all.
Most simple plumbing problems are fairly easy for the the handy homeowner to take on - as long as the right tools are available. Replacing a faucet washer for instance, simply involves turning off the water under the sink, disassembling the faucet valve until you reach the washer. Remove and replace with a matching new one and then start reversing your disassembly steps. A screwdriver and small adjustable wrench are normally sufficient. Washerless faucets are not so easy, but can be repaired if you follow the instructions carefully.
Give it a try, you can't do much damage. Plumbers are far too expensive to call in for such a simple problem that you can most likely tackle yourself. However, if you feel even the slightest bit like you're overstepping your capabilities, then by all means - seek the help of a professional before kitchen repairs get really expensive.