Do we need a handyman? A plumber? Who can fix this?
December 3, 2017 9:13 AM   Subscribe

So, it appears that there is some sort of leak coming from my mother's kitchen sink. When you turn the kitchen faucet on, water leaks from the base of the faucet. Of course, the problem is not as simple as a leaky tap. It appears that the bottom of the cabinet under the sink is rotting away. I'm not a handy person at all and I have no idea who to get to help. Who do I call?

I can hear some sort of dripping coming from the pipes when open the cabinet up, but I can't tell where it is specifically going.

Ideally... I guess she needs to replace the rotten bottom of the cabinet, but who does this? New cabinets are out of my mother's price range, but this needs to get fixed. I imagine that we need to get a new sink as well, which she's fine with.

Can I find some sort of handyman to take care of the sink/cabinet area, or do I need a plumber too ? I'm just confused.
posted by modesty.blaise to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You need a plumber to fix the leak, asap. Then you can let the cabinet dry out and look at your options for fixing the cabinet at your leisure.
posted by tillsbury at 9:18 AM on December 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Precisely. It actually wouldn't be hard to fix (or replace if you'd prefer an updated look anyway) the faucet yourself if you're at all handy. Most of the time they start leaking like that because the seals inside get stiff over time and stop working so well.

Home Depot and Lowe's sell kits for most major faucet brands that have the parts you need. Beyond that all you should need is an allen key set or screwdriver set with the correct bits to remove the faucet handle. (after turning off the water!)

The single handle ones are definitely more fiddly and require a specific cartridge type, while the double handle type usually use those little rubber O rings of some standard size (which is why you buy a $5 kit with multiples of several normal sizes rather than individuals for 20 cents each.

As tillsbury said, once the leak is fixed unless there's so much structural damage the sink and cabinet are going to collapse you can let them dry out first so you know what all needs to be done. If you lightly spray the wet areas with a dilute bleach solution a couple of times during that process it should prevent much if any mold from growing in the short term.
posted by wierdo at 9:34 AM on December 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

A good handyman could handle all of this.

I have repaired a similar situation and I am not a plumber. Repair or replace faucet and install new cabinet bottom.

Be sure you have shutoff valves for the hot and cold or the repairman installs them.
posted by H21 at 9:37 AM on December 3, 2017

Excellent, I've submitted a few inquiries with a couple local plumbers to see if we can get someone out to the house soon.

Another question, I have a suspicion that the top of the kitchen counter just behind the sink may well be rotting AND I just noticed that the top of the counter in front of the sink area is is separating from the bottom of it (yikes) ... Do we need to replace all the kitchen counters *immediately* once this leak is fixed?

I think my mother will probably have to do a small cheap-ish new counter/cabinet reno in her kitchen eventually, but probably won't be possible until at least March.
posted by modesty.blaise at 9:42 AM on December 3, 2017

There's no immediate (nor long term really) danger from that delaminating counter.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:46 AM on December 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Is there a basement? What is under the sink? If there's another room down there the wall insullation down there could be rotting also.

This was going on in my 1967 house and the cabinets were no longer level. I opted to redo the entire kitchen. I got the "Hey Lady You Have a Leak Here" from the contractors.

No kidding.
posted by andreap at 10:55 AM on December 3, 2017

Once the leak stops, the wood will dry out. It will still be damaged some, but in the absence of a leak or weather it won't continue to rot at any sort of appreciable rate.

You don't need to do anything immediately. You should get the leak fixed soon just because it's wasting water and doing damage and eventually is going to get so bad the faucet will be unusable. The cabinets can wait indefinitely, though now that you know it's there you may want to clean out under the sink and keep at least one of the doors open for air circulation to prevent mold. Keep your under-sink stuff raised on wire shelving of some kind if you can't move it all somewhere else.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:08 AM on December 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Since it sounds like you are calling a plumber, this comment may be unnecessary, but.... If you were to replace the whole faucet and do the work yourself, you would probably need a tool called a basin wrench.

We replaced our kitchen sink faucet about 5 years ago with a single lever unit which cost about $80 plus labor. You can pay more. Don't pay less.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:38 AM on December 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can't tell from here, but as SemiSalt says the easiest thing is probably to replace the whole faucet. It's not that difficult.
posted by bongo_x at 4:38 PM on December 3, 2017

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