Kitchen Sinks in Denver, CO
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Kitchen Sinks in Denver, CO
Just about every home has a kitchen sink installed, and they generally get used a lot. Washing up, food preparation and pouring a quick drink when you’re thirsty all call for a trip to the sink, and keeping it working well is part of keeping a comfortable home. Keeping your kitchen sink up and running sometimes calls for repair, maintenance or service work by an expert plumber. Colby Plumbing is a Denver-area plumber with decades of local experience in new builds, routine maintenance and repair work, as well as emergency service when you need it.
How Does a Kitchen Sink Work?
At a glance, kitchen sinks seem like simple technology, but there’s actually a lot going on under the counter. Unlike a bathroom sink, which usually just has a faucet a basin and a drain, kitchen sinks often have disposal units and complicated piping underneath that’s integral to how they work.
P-Traps and Gas Barriers
The simplest models of kitchen sink let water run out of the basin through the drain and into the wastewater pipes below. These don’t run straight, but bend into a P-trap. These get their name from the way they look like a capital letter “P,” though some of them are U-shaped or have some other shape for trapping water. These serve two purposes. First, by trapping water in a small space under the sink, P-traps form a barrier that prevents noxious — and potentially dangerous — sewer gases from flowing up the pipe and into the kitchen. Gas rises into the pipe, then stops when it reaches the water barrier, which is refreshed every time water runs down the drain.
The second reason kitchen sinks have a P-trap is to catch items dropped into the drain that need to be recovered. Heavy objects, such as wedding rings, that you might have dropped while washing dishes, are usually too heavy to flow straight through the trap. Objects like these usually settle at the bottom of the trap, which can be removed with a wrench and a bucket to catch the water.
Garbage disposal units are also common in many kitchen sinks, though they are by no means universal. The purpose of a disposal unit is to chop up and move along some of the solids that go down a kitchen sink drain. This can be extremely convenient, since kitchen sinks without a disposal generally can’t have food scraped into them or handle the odds and ends left over after chopping vegetables near the sink. Garbage disposals have whirling blades situated just inside the drain, which can chop and somewhat process incoming food matter until it’s in small enough pieces to easily flow through the drain. The typical disposal unit consists of a blade assembly, electric motor and power system, which can usually just be plugged into the outlet under the sink.
Everyday Use of the Kitchen Sink
How you use your kitchen sink varies a bit with the kind of cooking and other activities you do in the kitchen, but most households use their kitchen sinks for similar things. Washing food and dishes, washing hands and cutting up or cleaning meat are often done in or near the sink. People who don’t have disposals have to be careful when working with food matter, since sinks can easily clog. Garbage disposals can usually handle small amounts of food, which can then be flushed away without undue risk.
It’s not uncommon for kitchen sinks to have faucets with attachments that make them more useful than simple taps. Some faucets can be angled around a small arc to direct the flow of water, while others have hoses attached that allow cleaning from any angle. The faucets of kitchen sinks can also be fitted with water filters and other attachments for rendering drinking water safe.
Drainage in the Kitchen
The fixtures of kitchen sinks play another role in the water management of most homes. Underneath the counter the basin is installed in, several pipes can come together to provide drainage for other kitchen components. Dishwashers, for instance, often drain through the same wastewater pipes used by the sink. An overflow valve can also be installed on the corner of the kitchen sink to allow wastewater from the dishwasher to safely drain out into the basin, rather than backing up into the dishwasher itself.
Special Problems of Kitchen Sinks
Kitchen sinks can be complicated in design and operation, and that creates a number of special problems unique to them that can impair or permanently damage the plumbing in a home’s kitchen. Some issues that develop with a kitchen sink can be addressed by a relatively simple DIY fix, while others call for the specialized tools and experience of a plumber.
Best Practice, Maintenance and Repair of the Kitchen Sink
Taking care of the kitchen sink is a normal part of owning a home. With proper care and maintenance, most sinks can last for the life of the house, while improper use or neglected repairs can force a total sink replacement sooner than would otherwise be necessary. Things you can do to keep your sink in good shape include daily care, minor fixes and major repairs.
Daily Care of the Kitchen Sink
By far the easiest way to keep a sink in good condition is to exercise care on a day-to-day basis. In the kitchen, this usually comes down to what not to put down the drain. This includes:
- Oil, butter and/or grease. These can congeal after being washed away and block the waste pipe almost anywhere along the way.
- Coffee grounds. Coffee grounds don’t dissolve in water, but they can get stuck to grease in the pipes and help build up a clog.
- Egg shells. Egg shells grind up well enough in a disposal, but the very small shell fragments can easily cut into rubber and plastic fittings, causing leaks and other problems.
- Rice, pasta and flour. Any thing that expands when you boil it is likely to keep expanding if it goes down the pipes and stays in contact with water. Flour is especially problematic in a kitchen sink because of how it forms a sticky paste on contact with water.
Minor clogs and slow-draining sinks don’t have to be major problems, and it’s usually worth trying to clear the jam by yourself if you can. Beyond a very low level, however, it is almost always a good idea to call for professional help if your kitchen sink is clogged or slow. Inexperienced attempts at repair can potentially cause more damage to the sink, which could result in more repairs eventually.
When a problem with your kitchen sink goes beyond minor maintenance and repair, it is almost always a good idea to call on an experienced plumber to help as soon as possible. Colby Plumbing is a local company that offers regular, emergency and new installation service for your kitchen sinks and other plumbing fixtures. All the work we do is fast, friendly and efficient. If your kitchen sink needs work, or if you’re thinking about replacing the old sink with something new, give us a call at 303-513-7665, or fill out our convenient online contact form, and we can schedule an appointment as soon as possible.