Sometimes little things cause big problems. Take, for instance, my kitchen sink. I realized from the beginning that the thing had problems. First, it drained very slowly.
What would happen was the drain would only accept a limited amount of water and then it would back up. When washing dishes, that meant I had to wait for it to fully drain before continuing. On average, it took about one hour to wash a medium-size load of dishes.
Then one day I noticed a wall switch to the right of the sink. Thinking it may be for a light somewhere, I flipped it on. And then the garbage disposal that I didn’t realize was there came on. “That’s neat,” I said to myself, not knowing that unpleasantness was soon to follow.
Several days later as I was about to put some food scraps in the trash, I remembered the garbage disposal, so instead turned the thing on and jammed the stuff down its yawning maw. But instead of going down the drain, the scraps, plus whatever was left over from who-knows-how-long-ago, came up in the sink. This was the last straw. From that moment, I knew the garbage disposal unit must go.
That wasn’t all regarding that sink. The hot water handle leaked, and the leak kept getting worse.
Finally, the sink itself had problems. The bottom was eroded to the extent that everything stuck to it, and it was near-impossible to clean. So, I called a plumber and he put me on his list.
After some time had elapsed, the plumber scheduled a visit. He had come over earlier to measure the sink. I decided to have him pick up a suitable sink, since I didn’t feel like going to Bangor or Rockland to the big-box outlets.
Permanent Seal
After removing the old sink trap and drain, both of which were badly clogged, the plumber cut out the garbage disposal. An electrician had already sealed off the electricity to the disposal and had substituted a solid wall plate for the switch plate. With that, the garbage disposal was removed and that did my heart good.
Next, it was time to remove the sink. But that was easier said than done. The installer had used copious amounts of silicone as a seal and that had turned into something like cement. It had to be chiseled and pried off. But finally, the unit was loose enough to pop out of the cavity.
After a bit of tweaking, the new sink, a graniteware-style, single-cavity unit, was dropped into place. Then the plumber installed a new drainpipe and a new trap, this time made of PVC instead of the old metal. With everything ready to go, I turned on the water. In only about 20 seconds, the water backed up. It wouldn’t drain. My heart sank.
Whatchamacallit Valve
At that point, I was envisioning a horror show. Then the plumber asked me if the old unit made bubbling sounds as it slowly drained. “Yes. It did,” I said, sensing a possible easy fix.
It all boiled down to a simple principal of physics. Water couldn’t drain because it wasn’t vented. I never thought about that but could immediately envision it. The gurgling I heard with the old unit was air bubbles floating up and displacing the water. The plumber said it needed a certain valve, the name of which I cannot recall and so refer to it as a “whatchamacallit valve.”
After a trip to the store, the plumber returned, valve in hand, and installed it in the line. The drain worked just fine after that. Who would have thought? Not me, at least.
The new sink made the whole kitchen look better. The plumber even mentioned that by having it installed, I had increased the value of my house.
And come to think of it, he was right. The old sink added nothing to the décor and in fact, detracted from it. It made me wonder how many homes could be significantly upgraded by the simple expedient of replacing an old sink with a new, modern one.
In my case, this upgrade had another benefit. The old faucet was a two-handle style. It was difficult to mix the hot and cold water to a workable temperature. The spray unit was a separate one, as with many standard sinks.
However, the new faucet, a unit made by Delta, had a single handle, making it a cinch to adjust water temperature. Also, the sprayer is built-in to the faucet. Just pull down on the end of the faucet and the sprayer detaches and can be pulled out a considerable length. The faucet also has two settings, which are activated by a switch on the sprayer end. These are a single stream or a fine spray.
Also, the new sink is far deeper than the old one. This allows me to easily clean the large container I use to steam lobster. Plus, as a fisherman I’m always trying to fit an ice cooler in the sink to clean out residue from the fish I put in it. Up until now, only a small portion at a time would fit. Now, even my large cooler easily fits in the sink, making it a breeze to clean.

Tom’s new sink ups the value of his home. Photo by Tom Seymour

I find the single basin sink an invaluable addition to my kitchen. Its larger capacity and its inherent charm make it worth every penny I spent.
So, if you have an older, perhaps even beat-up sink, consider going for a newer model. It will make your place look so much better, it will be more functional, and it will add to the value of your home.
Tom Seymour, of Frankfort, is a homeowner, gardener, forager, naturalist, Registered Maine Guide, amateur astronomer, magazine and newspaper columnist and book author.