Can you help me fix this problem with an old sink?
March 6, 2011 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Just moved into a new place, and the oldschool sink (1910s?) has a weird area that collects dirty water. It is, in a word, gross. Anyone have experience with this kind of sink, or suggestions on what to do with it? Pictures of the offending sink inside.

So there's this reservoir underneath a grate that is intended to hold a chain for a stopper on the sink (it's the rectangle in this photo and water gets splashed into it and just sits there, eventually filling it up, and it's just nasty.

What's going on here? Is there supposed to be a hole at the bottom of that reservoir that drains that water out (I don't think this is the case, since I don't see how it would connect to the drainpipe under the sink)? Is this just extremely poor design?

Anyone else have a sink like this? A link to a place where I can buy a piece that would effectively plug this hole? Or some other ingenious solution to this problem?

Here's a fuller picture of the sink for context if that's useful to you in answering. Thanks!
posted by hwickline to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That should be an overflow whatsit (If you have the stopper in the basin and fill it up with water, and, you know, forget to turn it off, the water runs into that little opening).
In other words it should be open and directly leading into the waste pipe. Possibly just clogged.
posted by Namlit at 10:38 AM on March 6, 2011

You have a clogged overflow drain. Take a wire hanger, cut off the straight bit at one end and bend it into a small hook; use that small hook to fish out whatever's blocking that drain, then run hot water through it for a bit.
posted by mhoye at 10:50 AM on March 6, 2011

Yep overflow is clogged, and probably full of the nasties. Couple of options,

Hangar option as described above, or fill it with baking soda, and then pour hot vinegar down it.

Foaming should help get rid of a lot of the gunk, then when it's draining you want to pour several gallons of very hot water down it until it drains really smoothly.
posted by iamabot at 10:53 AM on March 6, 2011

Some of those old overflow things drain through the inside of the sink. The sink is hollow, with an inner and outer shell. For this kind of design, the drainpipe must not block this hollow. Something to check, perhaps.
posted by yesster at 10:59 AM on March 6, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks very much, everyone. On closer inspection, I do see how this must connect to the drain pipe inside the sink itself. I'll try the solutions above and see if we can't get this fixed. Thanks again!
posted by hwickline at 11:11 AM on March 6, 2011

If you can get hold of a Zip-It, it might work better than a hanger for cleaning out any crud.
posted by holgate at 12:00 PM on March 6, 2011

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