How To Remove a Kitchen Sink in 5 Steps

Here we describe how to remove a kitchen sink. In the previous post, how to fix a leaking sink, I described the problems caused by a faucet that had leaked water under the sink and allowed mold to start growing. I had to remove our drop-in style kitchen sink to see how bad the mold was.

I took about two minutes to feel sorry for myself for having to fix what ever problems I was going to find. First thing was to turn off the water, disconnect all the plumbing and then pull out the sink.

Steps for Removing the Sink

  1. Shut off the water at shut-off valves
  2. Disconnect drain pipes
  3. Remove garbage disposal
  4. Disconnect water supply to faucet
  5. Remove the sink

Step 1. Shut off Water at Shutoff Valves

Turning off the water to a sink that has shutoff valves is simple. Under our sink there are three shutoff valves. Two were attached to the hot water supply on the left and one cold water supply on the right (Fig. 1). One hot water supply goes to the hot water side of the sink and the other goes to the dishwasher. Your sink may have only one shutoff for both the sink and the dishwasher.

Water supply turnoff valves

Fig. 1. Turn off valves for water supply; In this case, two hot water valves on left and one cold water valve on the right

We have two different kinds of shutoff valves. The hot water valve is turn just like any other faucet to turn off the water. Turn clockwise to stop water, just like you turn a jar or milk jug cap clockwise to close (“righty tighty and lefty loosey”). This type of valve has to be turned all the way until it stops turning. With valves pointing in several different directions, it can be confusing, but turn clockwise as if you were facing the faucet. The cold water turn off is a 1/4 turn type valve, and turns 90 degrees counter clockwise to open and clock wise to close. You can tell the valve is closed in the photo because the long part of the knob is 90 degrees to the pipe, if the valve were open, the long part of the knob would be parallel with the pipe.

Emergency Water Turnoff – Does Your Family Know Where It Is?

home safety tipEveryone should know where the turn off valves are and how to use them. Even the older kids should know, so if there is a water emergency, they can turn off the water first and then get help, which might prevent any real damage. Show them where the turn off valves are for the toilets and the washing machine too.

Many older homes do not have turn off valves for every sink and toilet, so you will have to turn off the water for the entire house. Everyone should know where the main turn off valve is too. Sometimes there is a special tool required to reach the valve and everyone needs to know where that is as well and how to use it.

While you are at it, everyone should learn where and how to turn off the gas as well.

Step 2. Disconnect Drain Pipes

drain trap under the sink

Fig. 2. Drain Trap

Most drain pipes that are hidden under the sink today are made from PVC, but some pipes may be chrome. The compression rings on PVC pipe may be removed by hand, but you can use channel lock pliers (AKA tongue and grove pliers) if needed. You should protect the chrome compression rings with an old rag to prevent scratches from the pliers. Make sure to put a bucket or pan under the trap to catch the water that is in the trap when you remove sink drain.

Step 3. Remove Garbage Disposal

How to remove a garbage disposal was explained in detail in a separate post for easier reading.

Step 4. Disconnect Water Supply to Faucet

There are several types of water supply hoses, but they all basically unscrew to disconnect them. The water supply can be disconnected by using a crescent wrench (or pliers) either above the shutoff valve (Fig 1), where it is easiest to reach, or where it connects to the faucet farther up. Since this is your clean drinking water supply, cover the ends of the open supply lines with something (I used paper towels and rubber band) to keep the dust, dirt, paint etc out while you are working.

Step 5. Remove the Sink

Some sinks are held into place with bolts that are holding pressure plates underneath the counter top. If so, start by removing these bolts and plates. Most Drop-in or “self-rimming” sinks are held in place by their weight and by putty or caulking. The edge of the sink will have to be carefully pried up away from the counter top. If silicon caulk was used to seal the sink, it will be difficult to pry up.

I used a putty knife to slide under one edge of the sink. It was difficult because silicon caulk had been previously used. After I was able to wedge up a corner between the counter top and the sink about 1/4 inch, I slid wood shims into the space. I slowly worked my way around the sink, adding shims as I went until the sink released from the counter top.

I removed the sink with the faucet still attached. I could see mold was growing on most of the back side of the counter top (Fig. 3).  All the mold appears to be on the surface and the area is not too large. My next steps were to determine how to kill the mold and then replace the faulty faucet and reinstall the sink.

How To Remove a Kitchen Sink

We will explain how to remove any mold and re-installation of the sink in our next posts.

sink removed showing hole in countertop

Fig. 3 Sink has been removed, showing mold gowing on counter top.


  1. We tried for 2 hrs to unscrew the hot and cold water supply lines under the kitchen sink and could not unscrew them because there wasn’t enough room to turn wrench with the bottom of our double sinks getting in the way, we tried to remove whole sink thinking we could access it that way but after trying to pry it up its really stuck to the counter top around edges so we gave up and landlord is too cheap to hire plumber but bought all the supply’s and all PVC pipes to replace as well…. Frustrated can you offer advice on any special tool we need because regular wrenches are not helping?

    • Hi ReBecca:
      It sounds like you are working in a very tight space. If the connections have not been loosened in a long time, they may be very corroded. You can try using something like WD-40 to help loosen the corrosion. They make a tool called a basin wrench that may help. Also you could try using a locking “Vise-Grip” type pliers, but you still need room to rotate the pliers. Just be aware that locking pliers will scratch the finish on the nut. It probably doesn’t matter if it is corroded and will have to be replaced once you get it off. If you are still not able to disconnect the lines, you may have to cut them.

      You may also have to remove the sink to remove and repair the plumbing. The sink is probably stuck to the counter top with caulk. A putty knife will help get the sink unstuck (See Step 5 in the article). Be very careful so you don’t damage the counter top where it shows.

      If you take everything apart, attach all the lines to the sink before you put it back in place. And be very careful to check all the connections when you make the repairs. A small drip will cause major damage over time.

      I hope this helps. Good Luck

      ReBecca says:
      Thank you bunches, the sink was installed back in 1996 so its old and yes my brother in law said basin wrench too. Gotta go buy one and we did try to use a putty knife around the sink and removed all clamps but it still won’t budge without pulling up the cheap Formica counter top. We will have to wait till next weekend to resume the project so I hope its a success because I tired of emptying a bucket underneath and a dripping faucet. Thanks again.

  2. Is it possible to lift a drop in sink a few inches and prop it while removing old caulk before recaulking it? Or is removing the whole assembly necessary?

  3. To weaken / dissolve silicone sealant to remove a kitchen sink from a granite counter, use alcohol! WD40 works but it is very slow. Get as pure an alcohol as you can get 99.99 % (available in electronic stores or whatever you can get) if possible. Use a syringe to lay down an alcohol bead along the edge of the sink. Use a very thin spatula a or scraper (an excellent one came in the Harbor Freight heat gun accessory kit) to get underneath the sink edge and work it towards the sink until you hit the inner edge. Use thicker scrapers to keep the edge lifted while using thee thinner scrapper to work the next section. Use the alcohol and a razor blade type scrapper to clean off the residue. Use WD40 to and buff to finish.

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