Sink Strainer Options

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Jan 01, 2011 | Kim Henson
sink with strainer cup

The kitchen sink strainer is an important feature to take into consideration for the sake of your kitchen’s plumbing. The perforated metal screen of the strainer cup allows water to go down the drain while filtering larger debris that can eventually build up and clog the pipe. Besides saving your plumbing pipes, kitchen sink strainers prevent silverware and utensils from going down the tube. The screen can also rescue jewelry -- like rings and bracelets -- that is removed during food preparation.

Choose a Sink Strainer

When choosing from the selection of sink strainers, you'll find that functionality is basically the same. Some new sinks are sold with a strainer, but if yours is not, purchase a sink strainer separately. Since they are standard fit, any strainer should align with your sink opening and the drainpipe. In the end, the choice comes down to personal preference.

Types and Prices

A durable strainer can last a lifetime. Buyer’s guides list sink strainers that are corrosion-resistant and well-constructed from high-quality stainless steel, as the best value for your money. They usually cost around $30. Sink strainers can be made anything from plastic, which has a shorter lifespan, to long-lasting metals like brass that are typically finished in nickel or chrome. The prices reflect the quality of the material and range from $5 to more than $100.

Since sink strainers perform the same job no matter what they’re made of, and the only extra offered is a locking or non-locking basket that sits in the hole to stop up water and collect debris, the installation feature is all that’s left to choose. Sink strainers are installed underneath the sink and out of sight. There are three basic types.

  1. The back nut strainer has a back nut to hold it in place.

  2. The flange style has a flange that holds it to the sink bottom.

  3. Consult a professional plumber and they're likely to recommend a double cup strainer, which has a second cup and a nut that tightens it in place.

How to Install

Proper installation of sink strainers equals proper performance; otherwise, you may end up with leaks. The project is easy enough if you have a flathead screwdriver, a pair of channel lock pliers, or a nut wrench — depending on the strainer style. You also need plumber’s putty or silicone sealant. The parts of a standard sink strainer include the cup of the strainer and sometimes a second cup for underneath, a rubber gasket, a paper friction ring, a locknut and the parts to hook up the tailpiece to the drainpipe. Putting all the pieces into place may vary slightly by model, but these are the basic steps:

1. Roll a golf ball-sized scoop of putty into a snake and place it around the clean opening of the sink. For sealant, read the directions.

2. Press the cup of the strainer into the opening and line up the product name, if applicable, for a professional look.

3. Slip on the rubber gasket and the paper friction ring from the underside.

4. Screw on the locknut by hand. Hold the strainer cup with needle nose pliers while tightening the locknut.

5. Clean excess putty with your finger from around the top and underside of the drain.

6. Install the tailpiece and run the water to check for leaks.

Keep it Working and Smelling Good

Kitchen sink strainers, as useful as they are, can be easy to overlook when it comes to upkeep ... unless an unpleasant smell or nasty clog gets your attention. To maintain your strainer in top-notch condition, use your garbage disposal instead of letting food waste go down the drain. Keep the sink sanitary and free of bacteria-building dirty dishes and wet dish towels. Clean debris from the strainer. Cut grease by flushing the opening with a grease-cutting dish-washing liquid and hot water. For a fresh smell, squeeze a lemon or shake baking soda down the drain.

Updated March 19, 2018.

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