No matter if you rent or own your home, you should know the various parts of a sink to ensure that you can tackle any problems that come up without having to resort to calling in a plumber. Problems can crop up in several ways, and they could be anything from a clog in the drains or the water doesn’t come out of the faucet as smoothly as it did.
Luckily, most problems are usually not severe enough to require professional help to fix them, especially if you know the parts of a sink and understand how they operate. Also, there are a host of self-help videos on YouTube to guide you to finding and fixing the various parts of a sink when they break.
If you’re not sure what the parts of a sink are or what they do, this is for you. We’re going to go over the 24 main parts of a sink, their functions, maintenance steps you should take to keep your sink in top shape, how to clean the sink, and installation tips below.
Even though there are different types of sinks, most of the parts of a sink remain the same across the board. This makes it easy to keep them in good working shape. Sink by Joe Shalbotnik / CC BY 2.0
Understanding the 24 Parts of a Sink
There are 24 main parts of the sink that you should know about and understand how they work and what they are for. The more you know about each part, the better chances you have of fixing any issues that crop up on your own without having to pay for a professional to come in and fix it for you.
The aerator is the part of a sink that attaches to the faucet head. If you take a good hard look at the small details of your faucet, you’ll find a small disc with fine holes that looks like a filter. This is the aerator, and it ensures that your faucet is able to regulate the water flow into several small streams to avoid splashing and coming out in heavy flows. Also, this part of the sink can reduce how much water flows through your faucet very gradually.
The cleanout is arguably one of the most helpful parts of a sink. This is a pipeline that allows you to quickly and easily look for any issues that clog your dishwasher’s water system. Along with helping fix blockages due to dirt, you can easily check the condition of your drain line by looking through this cleanout component.
3. Cold Water Supply Line
The cold water pipe and hot water pipe serve the same basic function. This line works to regulate the flow of cold water from the primary water source in your house to the faucet on your sink or dishwasher. The temperature is the thing that sets the two lines apart, as the names obviously imply. You can find this line located under your sink between the plumbing on the right side in most kitchens.
4. Compression Coupling
Most of the parts of a sink depend on a compression coupling or fitting. This is the part that works to connect a pipe or two pipes to the other elements of the plumbing system, including the shutoff valve or under-sink features. Generally speaking, this coupling comes with three main parts that get arranged in sequence from top to bottom. This sequence includes the compression nut, ring, and seat.
In the simplest terms, the countertop is the flat surface that surrounds the washbasin in the sink. Countertops can come made out of a huge range of materials, but the most common are marble, granite, or soapstone. The countertop gives you a working area around the sink.
The sink should sit flush with your counter so there aren’t any obvious edges sticking up to catch on as you go by.
6. Dishwasher Drain Hose
If you have a dishwasher by your sink, you’ll have a dishwasher drain hose that directs or pumps wastewater into your garbage disposal. Usually, if there is something wrong with this part of the sink, you’ll end up with stagnant water in the basin. If this happens to you, it’s a good idea to check and see if you have a clog in the line to remove it and return the drainage flow to normal.
7. Dishwasher Water Supply
As the name suggests, this part of the sink is responsible for getting a line of clean water to the dishwasher. You’ll find it located at the bottom of your sink in most instances.
8. Drain Pipe
The drain pipe is the part of a sink that functions as a dishwasher component. It’s a long tube shape that you install directly under your sink’s basin. It works to carry out sewage or wastewater from the washing process out of the house. This pipe also has the job of regulating the air pressure throughout the plumbing system to prevent clogs. They’re usually made out of plastic or metal, but plastic is more popular.
This part of a sink is another one that you’ll find in the faucet. It’s a metal piece that looks like a plate, and it’s located around the tap feature of the faucet. It works to cover the holes in the valves or pipes. You can also hear this section referred to as the cover plate. Along with helping protect the valve holes and piping, it also serves an aesthetic function to make installation neater.
10. Faucet Lever or Handle
Every fixture on your kitchen appliances has to have a lever or handle to control how you use them. This includes ovens, lamps, stoves, and the sinks. Generally speaking, the faucet handle or lever is the obvious control mechanism that allows you to switch the water flow off or on in the sink. Without this part of the sink, it would be difficult to alternate the water speed or between hot and cold.
You should note that different faucet styles have the handle or lever installed differently. It could be a top or side-mounted model, and they come in a host of materials. The most popular handle or lever materials are brass, plastic, stainless steel, or zinc.
Your faucet is a great way to add pretty accents to a room, and there are dozens of styles and colors to choose from when you shop.
11. Friction Gasket
You can find the friction gasket part of a sink if you take the strainer parts out on the underside of your sink. You’ll find this gasket sandwiched between the strainer nut and the rubber. This gasket serves as a protective element that becomes antifriction when you have two moving surfaces. So, it allows the locknut to stay tightly attached and in place each time you use the sink so you don’t spring any leaks.
12. Garbage Disposal
First, not all sinks have a garbage disposal system installed. If you do, this part of a sink looks like a chamber and it works to grind down food scraps that have a solid texture into smaller pieces. You pulverize all of the kitchen refuse with it to make it safer and reduce the risk of clogging your sink drain parts. It’s great for busy kitchens who have a lot of smaller food waste pieces to get rid of. You can find it by looking at the bottom side of your sink’s washbowl. It’ll sit between the drain and the trap.
13. Hot Water Supply Line
This supply line is the part of a sink that works to control the water flow and temperature that comes out of your faucet. It’s usually relatively easy to locate this line because it’s generally located on the left side of your sink setup under it. The cold water line is usually on the right.
Take another look at your kitchen strainer. You’re looking for the part of a sink that has a round shape and that is right at the bottom of your strainer cup. This is the spud nut or locknut. This part will help to tighten up the drain basket with any other connected surfaces under it to prevent leaks. The locking mechanism has to be done by a component that will fit tightly and not move with heavy use.
15. Rubber Gasket
Rubber gaskets are essential parts of a sink. They work as the seal that protects the barriers between two different surfaces on your sink or dishwasher. If you want to get technical, this gasket will help prevent gas or liquid leakage from the sewer to ensure that they don’t get into your home.
16. Shutoff Valve
Also called the stop valve or the cut-off valve, this part of a sink is under the sink itself. You can typically find it right by your water supply line. It works to control the water flow to your faucet. This part is especially helpful when you have to repair the sink or replace something and you can’t have water waiting in the pipes, faucet, or lines. When you switch it off, the water flow will stop without reaching your sink. You should allow it to run until the water stops coming out so you don’t spray yourself later.
It’s essential that you know where your water shutoff valve is in your house in case you have an emergency like a burst pipe that could cause flooding if you don’t cut the water supply quick enough. Water Shutoff Valve by Derik DeLong / CC BY-ND 2.0
The sink or basin is the top part of a sink that holds the water from the faucet before you empty it out through the drain. The main part of this component works for different things, like washing dishes or washing your hands. You can have your sink sitting in a countertop, on a pedestal, or mounted right to the wall. They come in different sizes, shapes, and materials, including stainless steel, porcelain, and iron. Every type of material has advantages and disadvantages to it, so you should carefully pick out the one that matches your needs.
18. Spout Assembly
You can find this part of a sink very easily when you look at your sink. It has a very prominent design that rises up over your sink. The spout assembly works to channel the water flow from the water lines into the sink’s body by expelling it out of the faucet. This is also where you’ll find the aerator. You can choose from a huge range of designs, including a simple and straight style to ones with gooseneck shapes.
19. Spray Head
The spray head is a part of a sink that works just like the faucet spout. As the name suggests, you use it to spray water into the basin. A few minor details that set this apart from the faucet’s spout are the flexibility, function, and the ability to get it right into the sink. If you have a fixed spout kit, your spray head is one that you can pull out and it allows you to reach a wider area. The faucet spout is usually a standard fixture used to wash dishes and other items while the spray head is used more for cleaning the area in and around the sink itself.
20. Spray Hose
The spray hose is a tap feature that directs or connects to the faucet’s water supply. It’s typically a very visible part of a sink when you have a pull-out-style kitchen faucet. If you don’t, you can usually find the spray hose under the sink.
You can get sink sprayers to match your current design aesthetic, and some work as detachable faucet ends that are hidden until you pull them out. My kitchen sink sprayer gazes wistfully out the window by Paul L Dineen / CC BY 2.0
21. Strainer Body
The strainer body is one of the most well-known parts of a sink when you look under the actual sink. It works to help filter out debris as you wash your dishes. The filtering process is critical so you don’t end up with large particles in the system that can cause clogs. It catches the food before it gets down into your drains.
22. Strainer Flange
This part of a sink gets installed inside the washbasin. This is the flat metallic disk that connects to your sink’s strainer body. It works to hold your drain in place to plug the sink to fill it with water, and it stays directly attached to the bottom of the sink. You can typically see this feature if you look in your sink in the middle of the washbasin.
23. Supply Tube
This part of the sink is one that connects your water supply to your faucet surface. The supply tube has a very similar appearance with the size and shape as your drain hose. However, it’s not the same thing. You’ll usually find this system at the bottom of your washbasin.
The final main part of the sink is the trap. It’s one of several parts that you’ll find on the bottom of your washbasin, and this one has a P-like shape. It works to help stop any sewer gasses from getting into your home through the pipes or traps.
Common Sink Maintenance Steps
Considering how much you use the ordinary sink in your home, you’d think that it stays clean. However, allowing water to run through the drain throughout the day won’t do much to get rid of bacteria or germs. You want to take a few steps to sanitize your sink and clean it between uses to get rid of the bacteria and germs that can cause problems.
To do this, you’ll want to get in the habit of sanitizing your sink on a regular basis. We’ve put together a very quick guide that is easy to follow, and you can even use items that you have around your house to accomplish this task.
Regularly cleaning and maintaining your sink is a very important step in preventing clogs and keeping it in excellent working order without any pitting or stains. Cleaning the Sink by Alabama Extension / CC0 1.0
How to Clean and Sanitize Your Kitchen Sink – Step-by-Step
One of the first things you want to do is gather all of your tools and materials before you start this process to ensure that it goes smoothly from start to finish.
Tools and Materials You Need:
- Baking Soda
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Old toothbrush
- Paper Towels
- Soft sponge
- It is possible to use a mild soap with a nylon sponge or a soft rag to wipe your sink down every day to clean it. If you’re in a hurry, a glass cleaner or a general all-purpose cleaner will work. However, you want to avoid using bleach, ammonia, or any abrasive, rough cleaner on any stainless steel sinks. Doing so can damage or alter the sink’s finish or void the warranty.
- Start the process by rinsing your sink out thoroughly. If you have a stainless steel sink, you’ll want to know that the acid or salt in food can damage the finish. This is why you want to rinse the sink after each use to prevent pitting.
- Sprinkle baking soda on the surface of your sink liberally. Add a little distilled white vinegar and work it into a paste before scrubbing the sink’s surface with a toothbrush.
- Soak paper towels in white vinegar and line the sink with them. The white vinegar is a great natural disinfectant that also doubles as a deodorizer while cutting through grease. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes before getting rid of the paper towels.
- Rinse the sink thoroughly with soapy, warm water.
- For the sink’s handles and faucets, you can wipe and clean them using a soapy but mild solution. Get an old toothbrush to get into any hard-to-reach spaces. If you see spots when you finish cleaning, use a vinegar-soaked cloth instead.
- Finally, give it a final rinse and wipe it dry with a dry microfiber cloth. You should have a clean and fresh sink.
Now that you know how to clean and deodorize the sink, you’ll want to know how to maintain it without causing any damage.
Easy Tips to Maintain your Kitchen Sink
There are several things that you can do to help maintain your kitchen sink and ensure that it stays in good working shape.
Control and Deal with Rust Quickly
You may notice rust forming on your stainless steel sink, and you can wipe at the rusty spot with WD-40 before rinsing it thoroughly. If you don’t have this on-hand, you can try coca-cola or lighter fluid. If you have rust stains on enamel or porcelain sinks, you can get rid of it by cutting a lemon in half, salting it, and rubbing it on the stain. This will help get rid of the rust, keep it from coming back, and keep your sink in top condition.
Guard Against Permanent Stains and Scratches
It can be an ongoing project to protect your sink from scratches or permanent stains. However, you don’t want to get to the point where you have to replace the sink as it can be expensive. So, you can do the following to keep your sink in good shape:
- For an enamel or porcelain sink, never allow vinegar, fruits, or other acidic foods to sit on the surface. Long-term exposure to this acid content can lead to stains or permanent surface etching.
- Put a perforated plastic covering at the bottom of your sink to help protect it from getting scratches or mars. It also works to protect your dishes if you drop them in the sink.
If you already have issues with stains, you can get rid of the majority of them by using a mixture of ½-cup of powdered borax and a half of a lemon. Put a small amount of the powdered borax on the spot and rub it with the lemon. You can also squeeze the lemon juice on the borax and rub it with a sponge. Keep rubbing until the stain lifts.
Stop the Drain from Clogging
Clogs can be a huge headache once they form, so you want to head this problem off before it happens. To do so, you’ll regularly pour the following mixture down your drain. You’ll need:
- One cup of baking soda
- One cup of salt
- ¼ cup of cream of tartar
To start, mix everything in the list together and put it in a childproof container. Every two or three weeks, pour ½-cup down the drain followed by a quart of boiling water. This will help remove any buildup. Also, try to keep soap, hair, grease, and food out of the drain in the first place.
Tips on How to Install a Kitchen Sink
You can install a kitchen sink by yourself, but this is also something you should consider having a professional do, especially if it involves cutting into your countertop. Kitchen by John Buie / CC BY 2.0
Once you’ve picked out the correct type of sink for your needs, you want to fit it into the countertop surface. If you have an undermount sink, you’ll want to install it under the counter and only use a solid-surface or stone countertop. You could also get a sink with a deeper basin than the existing sink has. You do want to keep in mind that if your new sink is too low, you’ll end up with drainage issues and you’ll have to lower the tee connection in your drain pipe. To install a new sink, you’ll:
- Measure – First off, you’ll measure your current sink. If your new sink has dimensions that differ, you may have to change the drain’s location. Also, you could have to modify the plumbing system or countertop opening. You always want eye protection when you work under the sink.
- Note the Plumbing Configuration – To be on the safe side once you remove the current sink, take a picture of your plumbing configuration. The goal is to help you reconfigure it after you get your new sink in. Turn off the water supply to the sink. You can do so by locating the part of a sink that controls the water flow. If you can’t find it, shut off the house’s main water supply. Get a wrench to disconnect the water supply from your faucet. You want to have an empty bucket handy if the water starts dripping from the drain pipes to avoid a mess.
- Fit the New Sink – Once you have everything ready to go, you can fit the new sink into the hole in your countertop. If it doesn’t fit, you may need the help of a jigsaw, tile cutter, or router. If the new sink is larger, turn it upside down. Trace the outline and create a cutout in the countertop with the correct tool. Remove the sink from the hole, attach your clips, and turn it inward toward the bowl.
- Install the Faucet – Once you get the sink in place, you want to install your faucet and components. When you install the strainer, put a small amount of putty around it and push the strainer firmly into the putty. Apply a silicone sealant around the edge of the basin.
- Reconnect Everything – The final step is to attach your water pipes and supply lines to the faucet and tighten the connections. Switch the water supply on and check for any leaks.
We listed out 24 parts of a sink so you can learn what they are and fix them if a problem should arise. We also gave you tips to help you install a new sink or maintain your current one, and you can use this information to keep your sink in great working condition for years at a time.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.