How do I remove a cast iron sink without damaging counter?

smallseaSeptember 10, 2007

Hi all, I've been lurking a while here. You're all so helpful - I have a question and hope you can help. My husband and I are at the end of a 10-month DIY kitchen remodel. We installed a drop-in cast iron sink over a laminate countertop a few weeks ago. We haven't "moved in" to the kitchen yet and haven't really used the sink, except to rinse a few items. Yesterday, the sink self-destructed. The enamel all chipped off the edge of the sink on 3 of the 4 sides - photo is below. We have no clue what happened as we weren't anywhere near the sink when (or prior to when) this happened, and we don't have kids or pets or anything, but that's a whole other issue.

Now, we need to get this sink out so we can put a new sink in... without damaging the brand new laminate counter we just installed. We have a silicone seal under the lip of the cast iron sink. What's the best way to get this sink out? Can we use a razor blade or putty knife to break the seal? (And if so, how do we break the seal on the back side, where we only have an inch or so between the backsplash and sink edge?) Do we need to take a hammer to the sink and just bust the whole thing up (which could cause problems when we try to return it, although I have photos and video documenting this problem...)

Any tips would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Holy cow! What brand of sink is that?

I don't have any advice regarding the removal (except that I'm sure there is a way). Just wanted to offer my sympathy and shock!! I wonder what could have happened?


    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 3:38PM
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Ya, it totally sucks. It was an aqualux, made by whirlpool/jacuzzi. We bought it from a big box store a few months ago when it was on sale. They don't carry that sink anymore, probably b/c it's crap. Returning this is going to be fun, too... assuming we can get it out... grrr....

my brother just suggested using a wet string dipped in sugar or salt (he couldn't remember which) or a piano wire to "cut" the silicone seal along the difficult-to-reach back edge... anyone have an idea if this will work and which string/wire is best?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 3:58PM
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Is the sink suppose to be porcelain? That damage did not happen all by itself. Someone did something. I would ascertain exactly what type of sink you installed and figure out what happened so this does not happen again.

Yes the sink can be removed without damaging the countertop. I have seen it done a number of times. Did you install the sink yourself? If so you will know what you did to install it. Check underneath and make sure that it is not screwed in from the underside. Can't recall the tool that is used but you can scrap off any exterior sealing used and get under it and lift out. You will have to clean off your counter. Perhaps someone here can give you better instructions.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 4:14PM
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no, it's not supposed to be porcelain; it's cast iron with a white enamel. And yes, this did happen all by itself. We have video of the stuff popping off, but missed the beginning (of course, because we weren't expecting our sink to self destruct!) I can post on utube if you really want to see. The first time we ever used the sink was yesterday and we filled it with a small amoutn of water. Our only guess is that the underside of the lip/flange/rim wasn't even, or there was a drip/bubble of enamel or something that hung lower than it was supposed to, and when we filled the sink with water, the extra weight either caused the sink to torque on the uneven lip, or caused a pressure-point on the enamel that started a chain-reaction failure of the enamel. The enamel started popping itself off yesterday around 4pm. We kept vaccuuming up the shards, and would keep finding new shards - as of 7am this morning the failure was continuing. We haven't been home yet from work today so I don't know whether it's stopped. The counter was 100% level and even when we installed it.

But anyhow, my husband installed it. We have a thick bead of silicone between the lip/flange of the sink (the part that sits on the counter) and the counter. The silicone is under the counter, so we'd need to slide something under there to break the seal... perhaps this is much simpler than we're imagining it to be and we just cut the three easily accessible edges (front and sides) by sliding a razor underneat, and cut the back edge with a piano wire or something... is it as simple as that ?????

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 5:28PM
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Fori is not pleased

That is AMAZING! I'm sure you've contacted the manufacturer as well as the place that sold it and tried to get them to admit to some liability if the removal damages the laminate.

I'd try the 3 accessible edges first, and see if you can lift it at all. You might be able to find a tool that will get in that back area, if not, I guess you go with the wire. Actually I'd try a heavy fishing line first. I don't think you'd need grit. But I'm not sure if that'll do it or not. If you can get a wire even a little bit under the sink, such that any damage to the laminate won't be visible when the new sink is in (so measure your new sink now!), you can upgrade to a pipe cutter thingy--it's a rough wirey thing with teeth on it to cut out pipes in tight spots. It's probably overkill, and would be dangerous to the laminate.

Know anyone with long arms and small hands that can cut the back area from below?

I recommend putting masking tape or packing tape on the laminate as close to the sink as possible, all the way around, so you'll be less likely to mar the counter. But otherwise, I think you're just going to have to experiment.

At least the bare metal sort of complements your counters. ;P

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 5:45PM
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I would love to see your video. I just can't imagine how this could happen. I would certainly complain very strongly to the manufacturer.

You might also want to get underneath the sink and push upwards.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 6:22PM
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OK, here is the video on you tube. I took this video maybe 2 minutes after it started happening. It started in the back right corner then proceeded to the back left corner, which is where this video was focused.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here is the video on youtube.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 10:20PM
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Fori is not pleased

I can't believe I just watched a video on a sink popping off its enamel. Ya know, of all the things that can go wrong in a kitchen remodel THAT ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE ONE!

Good luck! That really stinks!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 10:26PM
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Thanks for posting the video. I think you were very smart to take the video. I would contact the manufacturer and complain and tell them how you had to hire someone to remove it and install a new. That is unbelievable.

I have never seen that happen. I'M not familiar with this type of sink. Could it possibly be that the type of silicone you used reacted badly with the finish and caused this? Did the install directions specify a particular type and did you use it?

Did you remove the sink yet?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 10:38PM
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No, we haven't removed the sink yet. I'll be calling the manufacturer in the morning... they don't say anything about sinks on their website anymore (they used to) and the store doesn't carry this brand anymore, so maybe they've already learned that they make a POS sink. We used regular kitchen silicone caulk under the lip... I can't imagine that causing the reaction. The sink was in place for about 3 weeks but only just got plumbed a couple days ago, and was used for the first time yesterday. I really think the tiny weight of water (in that little bucket) was enough to torque the sink somehow, and cause a pinpoint stress resulting in this chain-reaction popping; it must have an uneven lip or something. The counter is flat as a pancake.

We'll probably remove the sink tomorrow or Wednesday night... my fingers are crossed...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 11:03PM
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Usually inside the box there is some kind of paper that talks about installation, warranty or do and don'ts. Just make sure the paper didn't say to use something special so you don't void your warranty. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 12:07AM
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Read your post earlier today smallsea and just now watched your video. That truly is one of the strangest things I have EVER seen. Your rationale behind what made it happen makes sense to me. And I agree with others - very smart of you to take the video of it happening.

Personally, at the very least I think the mfr should reimburse you the cost of having it removed and replacement of your countertop if that should become necessary.

It would seem to me that if you are caused damages as a result of their faulty product, you should be appropriately compensated.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 1:57AM
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That's pretty bizarre! However, from the sound, I would guess it is porcelain enamel (the glass popping sound). Next, I would speculate that the rim is flimsy and uneven albeit not to the naked eye. Looking at that big basin of water, I would then speculate that the rim flexed under the weight as it settled and popped off the porcelain. Its hard to believe, but that is the only plausible explanation I can come away with. Just wait until you fill the bowls up completely...POPORAMA!

Next, the removal. Unhook the sink and put pressure under the bowl in several areas and see if you can get it to separate anywhere. You can put a fair amount of pressure but not too much. If so, then take a razor blade and keep pressure underneath and slowy work the sink up. If this doesn't work, you can try by slipping a single edge razor under a corner and work it several inches in either direction and then try the underneath pressure process again. Keep working it that way until it gives up. It may take a while but if you are careful, you will likely not damage your counters. If they do get scratched up a bit, try to get a replacement sink (maybe Kohler this time???sorry but actually Lowe's has some well priced Kohler cast iron sinks)a bit larger and refit it cutting out any scratches.

BTW, during this process, watch out for popping porcelain, it will likely continue and as you have probably learned...porcelain enamel can be quite sharp.

Don't dispair too much, this can be fixed. Good luck and I am going back to take one more look at that video!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 2:41AM
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Brother is pretty smart. I did not see that suggestion before my post. A guitar string (wire) might be easier to find or small single strand fishing leader wire. Tie a stick on either end and use it to slip underneath the rim...should work pretty well. Using stranded leader wire might "saw" it better but is more likely to leave marks while a small single strand leader/guitar/piano wire should not.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 2:50AM
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I'd not be taking that sink out myself. If when you're removing it, you "damage" it further, they could say you did it by incorrect removal etc. I know you have picture/video proof that it was happening prior to removal, but I'd let/make Whirlpool advise/remove it themselves. If they damage anything, they can pay to fix that too. Sorry to hear of your "popcorn" sink.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 3:58AM
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Thanks everyone. You all have good ideas here. I suggested to my husband that we call the manufacturer, but he doesn't want ANYTHING to do with them anymore. He is afraid that they'll send some unqualified person out to do the job, they'll mess up the counter, and our kitchen won't be finished for another 6 weeks while we wait for the new counter to come and be installed... we've done this whole kitchen ourselves and it's taken 10 months because my husband is very anal and very thorough... I think with your suggestions, we can hopefully get this sink out ourselves without damaging the counter. But I might call and try to talk to Whirlpool or Menards anyhow... the easiest thing would be for us to get this out ourselves and return it to Menards... but maybe not the smartest thing. We'll have to think this over. I'm 5 months pregnant and we need to get this kitchen DONE so we can redo the laundry room before baby comes.

I will also put tape all over the outside of the enamel so as it continues to pop off, hopefully the tape will prevent it from flying and injuring someone. I didn't consider further breakage of the enamel - that was a good point. And leather gloves for all.

I do know one thing for sure: the replacement sink will be Kohler.

*sigh* I'll keep you all posted. I appreciate all your insights and tips.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 11:11AM
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Fori is not pleased

Be careful when pushing up the sink from below--I don't know how well attached laminates are these days. Be sure you're not lifting the laminate from the backer when the sink goes up.

I've noticed most warranties do not include damage to other stuff from removal but c'mon! This is seriously ridiculous! Do contact the manufacturer--they might go out of their way to fix this. It's that bad. And larger companies are often willing to deal. If you have to, tell them your friends on the preeminent internet forum about kitchen and bath remodeling told you to be sure to let them know how the manufacturer responded to such an obviously faulty product.

Congrats on the baby! added bonus: you don't have to get under the sink!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 12:13PM
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Wow! Thanks for posting the video! You were so smart to do that! Our video camera battery is never charged, so we've got nothing of my sons--no first steps, first words, etc. And here you've got sink poppage footage! I am impressed!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 12:39PM
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About the wire thing, craft stores like Michael's usually carry pottery tools. There is a too that's two short wooden dowels with a wire between them and it's used for cutting clay pieces off a pottery wheel. They're very inexpensive and it would probably work great. We cut the silicone from our old sink with a box cutter on three sides then lifted it a bit from the bottom. That broke the seal in the back and with a little wiggling it came right out. Of course we were dealing with a cheap stainless sink which would be much lighter in weight than your cast iron one. We weren't being careful with our laminate as we are replacing it but wouldn't you know, it didn't scratch a bit!
Good luck and don't stress too much, take care of yourself and that baby!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 2:15PM
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Instead of wire, you can try using dental floss. That's how they get the chrome letters and logos off of cars. It might work and would certainly be more gentle than wire.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 4:16PM
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Thanks, these are all great ideas!

I can't find a phone number for Aqualux for the life of me. I called Jacuzzi/Whirlpool and they only deal with Aqualux tubs, not sinks. They told me to call Menards (Aqualux must be a brand sold only to Menards, as I didn't mention where I purchased the sink.) So I called the store and spoke to the store manager and explained the situation. He sounded skeptical, so I'm glad I have that video!

He gave me his own advice for how to remove the sink (similar to all of yours) and said they do have a process we can go through if the counter does end up damaged... we're going to do this on Sunday, so I'll let you all know what happens and what worked.

Thanks to all of you for your great advice and support.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 7:29PM
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The same exact thing happened to us 2 weeks ago. Exactly - meaning - self destruction, starting with the front edge during the middle of the night. This occurred within days of our installing it. Then 2 days later after the first edge cracked, while we were sitting in the kitchen with friends, we heard popping noises, looked over and saw the right and back edges also cracked. The left edge is in tact. We also have pictures. I suspect since it is exactly the same that this was a manufacturing defect, probably something to do with the heating process of the enamel. We are seeking a replacement of course.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 9:53AM
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*********SOLUTION: After trying several things, I finally decided to take a flat head screwdriver and pound it under, and sure enough it started to break the seal. I took a second flathead and worked my way around the sink. Took just only a minute or two. I tried to use a lever system to lift up the sink from underneath before doing this, and the entire counter was coming with it, didn't think there was a way to get it out, though it was glued in. Try the screwdrivers, worked great for me!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 1:45PM
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