Home care + repair.
Kitchen sink basket strainers/drain assemblies work great when they're new. But with daily use and cleaning, the chrome or painted finish starts to wear off. The basket strainer stopper may also start leaking. Once that happens, you can forget about soaking pots and pans overnight. You might think that the solution is to buy a new basket strainer. Good luck finding one that fits and seals. You can buy a "universal" replacement that'll work as a strainer. But it usually doesn't seal well because it's not an exact fit. So your best option is to replace the entire drain assembly.
You can replace the drain assembly yourself, but it's much easier with two people. You'll save about $100 in labor. The hardest part of the job involves removing the old drain locknut. If your locknut comes off easily, you can finish the entire job in less than an hour. However, a drain locknut that's corroded is tougher to deal with. We'll show you two quick ways to conquer stubborn locknuts. And we'll offer some tips on shopping for a new, longer-lasting basket strainer/drain assembly. Let's get started.
Remove the drainpipes
Place a bowl under the P-trap. Then use slip-joint pliers to loosen the compression nuts at the drain tailpiece and both nuts on the trap. Completely unscrew the tailpiece nut and swing the P-trap out slightly. Then unscrew the trap nuts completely and remove and drain the entire trap and tailpiece assembly to give yourself more working space.
Loosen and remove the drain locknut
Crawl under the sink and check for corrosion on the large drain locknut. If it's corroded, spray all around the nut with rust penetrating oil and allow it to soak for at least 15 minutes. Then have a friend hold the drain so you can loosen the locknut (Photo 1). Loosen the locknut with a hammer and chisel (Photo 2). If the locknut won't loosen or the entire drain spins and your helper can't hold it, cut it off (Photo 3).
If you don't have either a helper or a rotary cutoff tool and you've tried but can't loosen the locknut yourself, there's still another option to try. Head to the home center or hardware store and fork over about $25 for a sink drain wrench to loosen the nut and a plug wrench to help hold the drain (Photo 4). Once you get the locknut off, pull the entire drain up and out of the sink.
Clean the sink flange and install the new drain
Scrape off the plumber's putty or silicone from around the drain flange in the basin and under the sink. If the old drain was caulked with silicone, use silicone remover to clean it. Then apply a fresh bead of silicone around the flange in the basin and insert the new drain. Next, install the new 0-ring and locknut in the order shown here (Photo 5). Tighten the locknut until the rubber 0-ring compresses slightly. Then reassemble the trap and tailpiece and attach it to the new sink drain. Clean off any excess silicone in the basin with a paper towel. Then clean off the 0-ring and locknut.
Test for leaks by filling the sink with water and releasing it while you check the pipes under the sink.
1 HOLD THE DRAIN TO LOOSEN THE LOCKNUT
Jam needle-nose pliers into the crosspiece section at the bottom of the drain. Have your friend spread the pliers and hold it tightly in the drain to prevent it from turning while you loosen the locknut.
2 LOOSEN THE LOCKNUT
Place the chisel tip against a locknut "ear." Then smack the chisel with a hammer. Move the chisel to the next ear and repeat until the nut spins by hand.
3 DRASTIC MEASURES FOR STUCK NUTS
If all else fails, chuck a metal cutoff wheel into a rotary tool and cut the locknut. Cut until you reach the cardboard ring above the nut. Don't cut into the sink, If the nut still doesn't spin, fit your chisel into the cut area and smack it with a hammer to crack it open. Wear eye protection.
4 NO HELPER? NO PROBLEM!
You can buy these tools for $25 at any home center. Loosen the locknut with the sink drain wrench while you hold the drain with pliers and the plug wrench.
5 INSTALL THE NEW STRAINER
Slide the rubber 0-ring on first. Then add the cardboard 0-ring and the locknut. Tighten the nut until it starts compressing the rubber 0-ring.
TOUCH UP A VINYL-CLAD FENCE
Vinyl-clad chain-link fence keeps its appearance for a long time. But the vinyl can get scuffed and worn where the gate latch locks onto the post. The repair is a little tricky because you're trying to paint over vinyl and metal. If you use a spray paint formulated for metal, it won't bond well to the vinyl. Instead, coat the damaged area with spray paint specifically designed for plastic (Krylon Fusion is one brand).
Start by cleaning the damaged area and beyond with a household spray cleaner. Then rough up the surface (Photo 1). Finish the repair with special plastic paint (Photo 2). Let the repair dry at least 24 hours before operating the gate latch mechanism.
1 SAND THE AREA I Lightly scuff the vinyl and metal with 120-grit sandpaper. Then wipe with a tack cloth.
2 COAT WITH PAINT
Apply a first coat of plastic paint and allow it to set up the recommended time shown on the label. Then apply a finish coat.
Repair a broken-out hinge
It doesn't take much of a blow to break hinge screws out of a particleboard door. If the screws just stripped and pulled out cleanly, you could fill the hole with toothpicks and wood glue, then reinstall the screws. But if the surrounding particleboard has broken away, it's quicker to fill the void with gap-filling glue (Loctite Go2 Glue is one choice).
Start by removing the hinge and preparing the damaged area (Photo 1). Apply petroleum jelly to the movable portions of the hinge to protect them from the glue. Then scuff the cup portion of the hinge with sandpaper where it will contact the adhesive. If you're using polyurethane adhesive, dampen the hinge with water to activate the glue. Apply glue to the damaged area and immediately install the hinge and screws (Photo 2). Secure the hinge with weights or clamps until the glue dries. Then reinstall the door.
1 PREP THE DAMAGED AREA
Chisel out the damaged wood and enlarge the area slightly to give the adhesive more area to grip. Remove all loose chips and blow off any remaining dust.
2 FILL THE VOID WITH GLUE
Squeeze in enough glue to fill the broken-out screw holes and coat the cup area. Then press the cup into the opening until the glue oozes out. Drop the screws into the hinge holes and tighten the ones that still have some wood to bite into.
FIX COMPUTERIZED APPLIANCES YOURSELF
Many newer appliances include computerized touch pads and control boards. You may think they're too complicated to repair yourself. Wrong. They're actually easier to work on because the computer does all the diagnostic work for you. Once the computer detects a problem, it stores a fault code in memory. All you have to do is put the computer into readout mode and consult the fault code chart to discover which part failed. Fortunately, most manufacturers pack the code retrieval procedure and code translation information right inside the machine.
The trick is to find them. The diagrams here show typical locations. Remove the cover panel and look for the fault code instructions in a plastic bag. Follow the instructions to put the computer into code retrieval mode, then count the blinks or read the fault code from the display. Once you learn which part failed, copy the model and serial number off the tag and buy a replacement part.
FIND THE MODEL NUMBER AND THE FAULT CODE SHEET
Here are the typical locations on various appliances. (You may need to remove a cover panel to find them.) With the fault codes, the appliance diagnoses itself!
Replace a rain cap
High winds, sleet and plain old corrosion can cause a rain cap to break apart, rattle and leak water into your home. If you feel comfortable climbing up on your roof, you can replace the old one yourself for about $40. That'll save about $150 in labor from an HVAC service company.
You can buy a new rain cap and a sheet metal crimping tool at any home center. Flues are usually 5 or 6 in. in diameter, so buy both size caps and return the unused one. You'll also need three hex-head or Phillips self-drilling 1-in. sheet metal screws and a drill and bit.
Remove the old rain cap and toss it. Select the correct cap and check the fit (Photo 1). Then secure the new cap (Photo 2).
1 CHECK AND ADJUST THE FIT
Slide the new cap into the flue. If the stub section on the cap is too large, crimp it with a crimping tool.
2 LEVEL AND SECURE THE CAP
Plumb the cap so it fits squarely in the flue and secure it with one sheet metal screw. Recheck that the cap is plumb and install two more screws.
RELATED ARTICLE: BUYING TIPS
You have to spend at least $50 to get a high-quality strainer/ drain assembly with a durable finish and a reliable stopper mechanism. The best strainers have either a spin-lock or a twist-and-drop style stopper. The spin-lock stopper doesn't have any parts that can wear, but screwing it in and out can be annoying. The twist-and-drop style is much easier to use but requires occasional 0-ring replacement.
Avoid push-in style strainers that have a nonreplaceable neoprene stopper or a plastic knob. The plastic parts break and can lose their sealing ability if exposed to boiling water.
BY RICK MUSCOPLAT firstname.lastname@example.org