How to Plumb a Drain for a Sink: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Plumb a Drain for a Sink: A Step-by-Step Guide

A perfectly functioning sink is essential for every kitchen or bathroom. However, fixing the drain pipe under the sink can be a daunting task. Fortunately, with the right instructions, you can learn how to properly connect your sink to the drain in the wall. 

This tutorial will walk you through the procedure step by step, making it possible for anyone to plumb a drain for a sink. If you require further guidance, reliable plumbers are always there to help.

Preparing the Drain Space

Before you can start installing the new drain, you'll need to assess the existing setup. The first step is to check the height of the drain pipe coming out of the wall. Measure from the floor to the center of the pipe. 

If it's higher than 16 inches, you may need to lower the pipe's position to accommodate the depth of your new sink. This can be a complex job, so it's best to have a professional plumber in Lexington handle it unless you have significant DIY experience.

Once you've confirmed the drain pipe height, it's time to remove the old sink and install the new one. Make sure the new sink is positioned properly before proceeding. This will ensure the drain components fit together seamlessly.

Installing the Garbage Disposal and Strainer

If your sink is equipped with a garbage disposal, begin by installing that component first. This will take up the most space under the sink, so it's important to get it in place before moving on to the other drain parts.

Next, install the basket strainer for the remaining sink basin. This is also a good time to add any other under-sink components, such as a water filter or hot water dispenser. Be mindful of these additional fittings as you connect the drain pipes.

Connecting the Drain Tailpiece and Waste Pipe

The drain tailpiece is a short, vertical pipe that connects the sink strainer to a T-fitting. Temporarily install the tailpiece onto the sink strainer, using a slip nut and washer as needed.

Now, connect the curved end of the continuous waste pipe to the garbage disposal's drain outlet, also using a slip nut and washer. Allow the straight end of the pipe to extend past the vertical tailpiece.

Hold the T-fitting up to the tailpiece and waste pipe, and mark where you need to cut the pipes to fit into the T-fitting. Use a PVC tubing cutter or hacksaw to trim the tailpiece and waste pipe to the proper length.

Reinstall the tailpiece and waste pipe, along with the T-fitting, but don't fully tighten the connections yet. You may need to adjust the positioning of the pieces.

Connecting the Drain Trap

The drain trap assembly includes a U-shaped trap bend and a J-shaped trap arm. The trap bend fits onto the bottom of the tailpiece T-fitting, while the trap arm extends into the drain outlet in the wall.

Assemble the trap bend and trap arm together loosely with a slip nut and washer. Slide another slip nut and washer onto the straight end of the trap arm. Push the trap bend up into the T-fitting on the tailpiece, while sliding the trap arm into the drain outlet at the wall.

Adjust the trap pieces as needed to create the most direct path from the sink to the drain outlet. Make sure the trap arm has a slight downward angle toward the drain outlet.

If the trap arm is too long, mark and cut it to the appropriate length before reinstalling the entire P-trap assembly. Tighten all slip nuts with channel-type pliers, being careful not to overtighten.

Checking for Leaks

With the drain components in place, it's time to test for any leaks. Turn on the water in both sink basins and carefully inspect each pipe joint. Tighten any connections that are leaking.

It's not uncommon for slip-nut joints to leak slightly. If tightening the nut doesn't stop the leak, you may need to unscrew the nut, reposition the washer, and retighten, making sure it's not cross-threaded.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While the steps outlined above should work for most sink drain installations, there are a few potential challenges you may encounter:

Insufficient Clearance

If the new sink is significantly offset from the old one, the angle of the 45-degree pipe coming out of the wall may be too far forward to connect directly to the drain tailpiece. In this case, you may need to add an additional 45-degree elbow and a straight pipe segment to bridge the gap.

Drain Outlet Too High

As mentioned earlier, if the existing drain outlet in the wall is too high to accommodate the depth of the new sink, you'll need to lower its position. This typically involves opening up the wall, cutting away the back of the cabinet, and repositioning the sanitary tee fitting that connects to the drain pipe.

Trap Arm Alignment

Sometimes, the trap arm may not line up perfectly with the drain outlet in the wall. In this situation, you can try using a longer J-shaped trap arm, or even a combination of straight pipe segments and 45-degree elbows to create the necessary angle.

The key is to take your time, measure carefully, and experiment with different pipe fittings until you find a configuration that works. Don't be afraid to make multiple trips to the hardware store to get the right parts.

Best Practices for Sink Drain Installation

To ensure a successful and long-lasting sink drain installation, keep these tips in mind:

  • Avoid using flexible, corrugated tubing, as it can easily clog with grease and debris. Opt for smooth, rigid pipes instead.
  • Make sure all pipe connections have a slight downward slope (about 1/4 inch per foot) to promote proper drainage.
  • Tighten slip nuts with channel-type pliers, but don't overtighten, as this can damage the plastic threads.
  • Consider using a plumber's putty or silicone caulk around the sink strainer to create a tight seal and prevent leaks.
  • If you're not confident in your plumbing skills, don't hesitate to hire a professional plumber to handle the job.


Although to plumb a drain for a sink may appear difficult, many homeowners can complete the project if they have the necessary equipment, supplies, and a step-by-step manual. You can ensure that your sink drain is correctly plumbed and continues to operate smoothly for many years to come by following the advice provided above. 

Remember, don't hesitate to contact a reputable plumber if you run into any difficulties or require more help.