The sink sprayer is one of those things you don’t think about until it’s not working
Kitchen clean-up is going well. The counters are clean; you've put the last dish in the dishwasher. All that’s left is giving the sink a quick cleaning when the sprayer stops working. This tool seems to develop problems more often than most plumbing fixtures.
A local sink repair professional can certainly replace it for you, but depending on the problem, this is also an easy project you can do on your own.
Time to complete: A couple of hours
Materials you’ll need: Vinegar, an old toothbrush, replacement washers, wrench, plumber’s tape, and a new hose and sprayer head, if needed
Diagnose a Kitchen Sink Sprayer Problem
If you’ve pressed the kitchen sprayer hose, and no water came out, the first step is to rule out common sink sprayer problems:
A build-up of minerals and other gunk is blocking the sprayer.
A leak has sprung where the sprayer head connects to the hose.
A leak has sprung where the sprayer connects to the kitchen sink faucet, and water is escaping under the sink.
We go over each issue below and how to solve it. Whatever you do, don’t use a chemical drain cleaner, as this could do more harm than good.
Tip: Use the sink sprayer (and all plumbing fixtures, really) on a regular basis, or you might need a local professional drain cleaner to help you out. Since we don’t use kitchen spray hoses as often as other water fixtures in the house, they have a tendency to dry out or begin to leak.
Now, let’s troubleshoot that sink sprayer.
Clean the Nozzle
A common problem is the sprayer’s holes getting clogged with gunk. That’s an easy fix.
Prepare a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts hot water in a glass.
Pull the sprayer up and let the head dangle in the mixture for about an hour.
After soaking, use an old toothbrush to scrub away buildup on the head.
Test the spray. If it works, please accept our virtual high-five. If it doesn’t, continue reading.
Check for Leaks
If cleaning didn’t work, the next step is to look for leaks. Turn the sprayer on (aiming it at a family member is optional) and check the sprayer head, hose, and connections for water. If you find a leak, its location will determine your next best course of action.
Leak Is Where the Head Connects to the Hose
Make sure the sprayer head is on tight by twisting the coupling clockwise.
If that doesn't solve the problem, remove the sprayer head by twisting the coupling counterclockwise and pulling down on the hose.
Turn on the water and check for leaks in the hose. If it’s leaking, you’ll need to replace the hose and sprayer head.
If there is no leak, firmly press the washers inside the coupling. If they move, they may not have been properly attached.
Reattach the coupling over the hose and the sprayer head.
Cross your fingers and turn on the water to check for the leak. If the sprayer is still leaking, let’s go on to the next step.
Remove the sprayer head from the coupling again and gently pry out the washers at the top of the coupling with a screwdriver.
Replace the old washers, installing the thin washer before the thick one and press them both firmly into place.
Screw the sprayer head back onto the coupler. Turn the water back on, press the trigger and check again. If it still leaks, it’s time to replace the sprayer and hose.
Leak Is Under the Sink
Tighten the connection at the faucet with a wrench, turn on the water and check for a leak under the sink.
If it is still leaking, unscrew the hose from the faucet, dry the hose and faucet threads.
Wrap plumber’s tape around the external threads and screw the hose to the faucet, tightening it with a wrench.
Turn on the water and test for leaks. Either you’re done, or it’s still leaking, and you need a new sprayer and hose.
If the leak damaged the bottom of your cupboard, call a local contractor to replace it or repair it for you.
How to Fix Your Kitchen Spray Hose
You tried all you could, but it’s time to go to the hardware store for a new hose and sprayer. Make sure to measure the diameter of the opening to make sure your new one fits. To install:
Turn off the hot and cold water at the shut-off valves under the sink.
Place the shroud for the sprayer in the hole in the sink and tighten the nut.
Feed the sprayer hose down through the shroud and rest the sprayer in the shroud.
Connect the end of the hose to the diverter connection on the water supply line.
Check for leaks and tighten accordingly.
You’re all set—time to finally finish cleaning the kitchen.
When to Hire a Plumber
While DIYing this project is doable, you may want to consult a pro if you’re uncomfortable with the inner workings of your sink and sprayer. Call a local plumber who can identify any leaks or blockages and get your sprayer back in working order so you can enjoy a squeaky clean sink.