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Some basket strainers come with a thin foam or rubber washer, you may use this washer instead of sealant or putty if you so wish. For the merits of each please read below.
Dismantle all the parts and put the strainer plug to one side.
Check the strainer and both the top and underside of the sink are free of any debris, stickers etc.
Run a thin bead of silicone sealant around the recess of the sink waste hole. Some plumbers prefer to use plumber's putty.
Place the top cover into the recess, gently push down and locate. There is no need for it to fully mate at this point..
Place the rubber seal onto the bottom waste body housing. A very thin smear of silicone will help keep the washer in place.
For peace of mind you may wish to smear a some silicone around the top of the seal also. This is not strictly necessary.
Position the base housing (bottom piece) in position below the sink ensuring any overflow outlet is in the correct position, (usually towards the rear of the sink.)
Insert the retaining screw and carefully rotate clockwise by hand until you feel the screw thread into the base.
Ensure the bottom seal is still in position adjust if required.
Tighten up the screw with a large screwdriver, socket or spanner depending on the type of screw and the tools available.
Do not overtighten, this may damage the thread and seals and is not required for a good seal. About the same force it takes to push a bucket of water on a flat surface would be about right.
Remove any silicone that has squeezed out with tissue, smears are easiest cleaned now with a solvent or nail varnish remover.
If you have used plumber's putty you can cut the putty around the strainer and remove the excess.
Connect the trap and any pipework to the waste outlet ensuring the rubber washer is still fitted in the trap.
If everything is aligned correctly and you have not cross threaded the threads on the trap, hand tight should be enough.
Place the plug in the strainer, put a little water in the sink and test for leaks.
If you have followed the above it is very unlikely that there will be a leak from the strainer/ sink interface.
You may tighten the centre screw slightly more if required.
Plumber's putty, often called plumber's mate after the brand name, is a plasticine like putty traditionally used as a sealant gasket in plumbing. There are a number of variations but it is basically a mix of clay and oil, usually linseed oil. Before the introduction of polymer sealants it was the main sealant used in plumbing. It is designed to stay pliable over a long period but does eventually go hard as linseed oil is a drying oil. It is still favoured today by some plumbers over polymer sealants.
The main sealant used today is silicone sealant although blended, advanced polymer sealants are becoming popular. There are a number of different silicone sealants on the market differing by the method by which they cure, the stiffness of the mix (the modulus) and whether they contain additives such has ant fungicide. For the under sink areas, any general purpose silicone would be suitable. For sealing certain sink materials and you are using silicone to seal the waste outlet to the sink, then a specialist silicone may be required. Most silicone sealants use acetic acid as a curing agent, the acetic acid can damage some delicate materials so use a neutral cure silicone. For marble and some other natural stones, silicone can migrate through the material and cause staining.
The main advantage of using plumber's mate is that it's very clean to use. Sealants tend to squeeze out of a joint, with plumber's mate simply cut away the excess and wipe clean. Smears left after you wipe away silicone are legendary, but the can be removed using a solvent and a rag, do not use tissue as the paper can disintegrate and contaminate the sealant. One criticism of silicone is the belief held by many that you must wait for it to dry before testing with water, this is not exactly the case, it may be prudent to wait a few minutes for the silicone to skin over but it should be watertight straight in a very short time if fitted correctly. Once entirely cured, silicone resembles a soft, pliable rubber, if the surface were dry prior to fitting, then it should be bonded well to all surfaces.
So which should I choose ? If you can cope with cleaning any surplus sealant, silicone will provide a much easier solution to obtaining non pressurised water tight joints such as in a sink waste. Many plumbers' still prefer plumber's mate so there must be something in it. If we can find what that is we will publish it here. If you have an opinion on this please share it on our blog.
Most plumbers discard the foam washer which comes with many basket strainer wastes lately and use either silicone or plumber's putty. The foam washer is a relatively new addition to the basket strainer waste kit and like many new ideas, it may take time to become trusted and accepted. We fitted one as a trial recently, it seems to have worked fine and was clean, quick and easy to use with no leaks.. We will keep monitor it and see how it performs over time. It was fitted to stainless steel sink. It would be prudent to be a bit more cautious about using a foam washer on a more uneven finish like ceramic glaze or enamel.