How to Replace a Sink Strainer Basket

What You'll Need
Sink strainer
Plumbers putty
Plastic putty knife
Pipe wrench or channel lock pliers
Needle nose pliers

A sink strainer basket is the unit that connects the sink to the plumbing and prevents large debris from clogging the plumbing system. Though a properly installed sink strainer usually won’t have to be replaced for a long while, it is quick and easy to install. When the time comes to replace your sinker strainer, you will only need about 1 hour and a few items from your local home improvement store. 

Step 1—Remove Old Strainer

Before you can install the new strainer, you have to remove the old strainer from the sink. To do this, go underneath the sink and disconnect the drain pipe from the bottom of the strainer. Use your channel locks or pipe wrench to remove the large locknut that is securing the strainer in place. This can get a bit tricky. Instead of separating, sometimes the strainer will turn with the locknut as your try to remove it. If this happens, you will need to wedge a pair of needle nose pliers into the bottom of the strainer and secure it while you are removing the locknut. This is possible to do by yourself, but it is much easier with a helper. 

With that removed, you can slip off the rubber gasket and remove the strainer.

Step 2—Clean Up Sink Opening

The sink opening will be covered in old, hard plumber’s putty. You will need to remove the putty and make sure that the opening in the sink is clean and dry. The best way to remove the putty is with a plastic putty knife. Plastic is the best choice here because you don’t want to damage the surface of the sink.

If you find that the putty is rather stubborn you can use steel wool or even a bit of paint thinner to aid in the removal. Make sure you wipe the opening free of debris and residue.

Step 3—Add Plumber’s Putty

Once the sink opening is clean, you can add the plumber’s putty. You want to use a golf ball size amount of putty and form it into a long snake-like shape. You’ll wrap the length of the putty around the opening of the sink.

Step 4—Set New Sink Strainer

Now that the plumber’s putty is in place, you will sit the sink strainer down into the opening and apply even pressure to the flange. This will push the flange down into the putty and form a seal. Putty will squeeze out from around the flange. You will need to wipe this off. Putty will also squeeze from around the strainer below the sink. This also needs to be removed. 

You will then add the rubber gasket and metal locknut and tighten it with your channel locks. If your strainer is imprinted with a logo, you will want to line it up at the center point for a professional finish. The last step is to reattach the drain pipe to the bottom of the strainer. 

That’s it. You have replaced your sink strainer basket following these quick and easy instructions.