Imagine this: one day, while getting something from the cabinet beneath your sink, you open it to discover a puddle of water. A leaky basket strainer could be behind it. To know if this is so, fill up your sink with water. Wipe a piece of tissue close to where the sink and drain pipe meets. If the tissue gets wet, that means your basket strainer is indeed the problem. You need to replace it, and you can do that by following these two simple steps.

Step 1: Loosen and unscrew the coupling nut and locknut

The coupling nut is what keeps the drainpipe steady, while the strainer locknut connects the drainpipe to your sink. Loosen the latter using slip-joint pliers. Then, unscrew the coupling nut from its thread. If the basket spins, hold it tightly as you unbind the coupling nut. Afterwards, unscrew the locknut using a spud wrench. If you don’t have a spud wrench or a pair of large pliers that can grip your locknut tightly, you can tap the locknut with a hammer and chisel to loosen it. Spray the locknut with penetrating oil if it has already rusted in place. Let someone help you keep the basket firmly in position if it spins while you’re removing the locknut.

Step 2: Apply putty and reset the basket

After you remove the locknut, you can lift the old basket strainer out. Use a plastic putty knife to carefully scrape off the putty that holds it so you won’t end up scratching the sink. Then press the new basket firmly onto a piece of plumber’s putty surrounding the sink’s drain. If plumber’s putty is inappropriate for your sink, you can use waterproof silicone instead.

When you have placed the strainer onto the putty, return the rubber gasket, friction ring, and locknut to the junction of the drain pipe and your sink. Don’t forget to place the cardboard friction ring between the rubber gasket and locknut before fastening the locknut in place. Any excess putty will simply squeeze itself out as you tighten the locknut. Remove the excess putty or silicone with a paper towel or rag.

How to deal with stuck nuts

If your locknut doesn’t budge even when you use a spud wrench, you need to cut the locknut out. Cut the locknut until you feel that you’re touching the cardboard ring. Take care not to cut into the sink. Another thing you can do when dealing with stuck locknuts is to chisel the cut area and strike it with a hammer to open it. If you’re going to do this, make sure to wear protective goggles.

Tips when buying a replacement kitchen sink basket strainer

When you need to buy a new strainer to replace your old one, find one that is durable and has a steady stopper mechanism. A strainer with a spin-lock mechanism will enable you to remove it without having to unscrew anything, which is convenient. Avoid cheap push-in style strainers with plastic parts. These plastic parts can break easily and lose their sealing grip if you dispose of hot liquids into your sink.