Installing an outdoor sink can be a wonderful addition to your backyard, outdoor kitchen, or patio. This feature alone can increase outdoor activities and convenience exponentially, whether it’s to wash dishes after an outdoor barbecue, to rinse your fresh produce before bringing it inside, or to give kids an easy source of freshwater during the hot summer months. Although they might sound like a plumbing nightmare, it’s actually easy to install an outdoor sink with plumbing on your own, and here’s how!
There are a few ways to install an outdoor sink with plumbing, depending on the water source of choice, optimal sink location, and preferred drainage system. Most homeowners will hook up the sink to a new water line from their home’s main system, while others opt to connect the sink to an outdoor water spigot. Both will significantly impact the installation.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different ways you can install an outdoor sink with plumbing on your property and reap the benefits of this versatile feature. You’ll learn step-by-step how to acquire and install an outdoor sink that suits all of your needs, and at the end of the guide, we’ll answer some commonly asked questions regarding these water sources.
A Step-By-Step Guide for Installing an Outdoor Sink With Plumbing
Installing an outdoor sink with plumbing can either be a fun DIY project you embark on yourself, or it can be a simple task you hire someone else to perform. While we have nothing against professional plumbers who do these types of tasks for a living, we’d rather you save the cost of labor for something else and learn how to install your outdoor sink yourself.
The steps you need to follow to install an outdoor sink with plumbing include:
- Choose a water source
- Choose your drainage system
- Find your ideal location
- Acquire your sink
- Attach your outdoor sink to its water source and drainage system
At first glance, this installation guide looks simple enough, but we’re sure you were hoping for something a little more in-depth. Don’t worry; we promised to take you through every step, and we will. Below is a more detailed guide to how you can install an outdoor sink with plumbing in a matter of minutes. We’ll cover various approaches to this process so you can choose the one that suits your needs and budget best.
Choose a Water Source
If you’re reading this guide and you assumed step one would be to buy a sink, so you’ve already gone ahead and done this, we’re sorry to say that you jumped the gun here.
While we’d love to start this guide with a shopping spree, there are a decent number of steps you need to complete before you can purchase or build the outdoor sink of your dreams. The first of which is choosing your water source.
To install a functioning outdoor sink with plumbing, you’ll need a reliable water source to connect it to, and the source you choose will vastly impact the rest of your installation. For the most part, you have two options: an exterior hose spigot or a direct water line from your house’s main water system.
Exterior Hose Spigot
This probably isn’t the option you thought of first when you pictured an outdoor sink with plumbing, as plumbing implies a series of interconnected pipes, valves, and tanks, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is still a legitimate option.
In fact, attaching your outdoor sink to an exterior hose spigot is by far the easiest and most budget-friendly source of water. All you need for this option is some adaptors, a hose that connects to your faucet, and some seals.
If you want more versatile functions with your outdoor sink using this method, such as hot and cold water options, you’ll have to install more components. But otherwise, we highly recommend this option to anyone who has limited funds for this project or isn’t picky about the sink’s results as long as it runs.
New Water Line From Main in House
The majority of homeowners who want their outdoor sinks to resemble their indoor sinks as much as possible will opt to install a brand-new water line that connects their outdoor sink to their main water system indoors.
This is especially helpful for outdoor sinks used for cleaning dishes and other cooking-related tasks, as you’ll want as much temperature and pressure control as possible, which you’ll achieve best with this method.
Of course, of the two choices, installing a new water line is by far the most challenging and expensive but also the most convenient. On average, installing a new water line will cost about $536 – $664 per piping run, but you get the perks of not having to turn on a spigot in order to run your sink, and you have a bit more freedom when it comes to your sink’s location. With an outdoor spigot, you have to hope it’s located somewhere convenient for you to install your outdoor sink.
Choose Your Drainage System
Once you know where your outdoor sink is getting its water from, you have to think about where that water will go as the sink is running.
Many homeowners forget about drainage until it’s too late, especially if they go the DIY route and build everything themselves. If you don’t have somewhere safe for your water to drain, you risk overflowing your sink or disposing of its wastewater in a manner that is unsafe for you and/or the environment.
Typically, if your goal is to have an outdoor sink that’s connected to some form of plumbing like your main water system, then your wastewater would drain the same way any of your other appliances indoors do (ex., dishwashers, washing machines, toilets, etc.) In these instances, the wastewater follows a drainage system to the public sewer line, where it is properly disposed of.
However, if you opted for the exterior spigot method, you’re going to have to create your own drainage system using an alternative plumbing method, like the construction of a dry well, or a simpler solution, like placing a bucket under the sink’s drain that you later dispose of elsewhere. Another more complex alternative is a self-contained lift station that relies on electricity and two canisters for efficient water collection and disposal.
All of these are ways you can drain your outdoor sink using plumbing, so make sure you choose the one that suits your sink needs, lifestyle, and budget best.
Find Your Ideal Location
So, you know your water source and your drainage system; you’re now one step closer to actually buying your sink and getting it up and running!
With these key steps complete, the next thing you should do is decide where you’re going to install your outdoor sink. If you’re going to create your own plumbing system using an outdoor spigot, you’ll want to find a spigot on your home’s exterior that’s in a convenient location for your sink’s intended purpose (ex. if you’re using it to wash produce, is there a spigot near your garden?).
If you’re installing a new water line for your outdoor sink, the possibilities for its location are relatively endless. You’ll want to make sure you can safely run a line from the chosen spot back to your house’s main water system, so having plumbing skills and knowledge is going to be key here if you’re installing the line by yourself.
A permit might also be required by law for you to install your own plumbing in your home, so you’ll want to confirm this and have the appropriate credentials before moving forward.
Acquire Your Sink
Now comes the fun part! You can finally go shopping for that beautiful outdoor sink you’ll be using for all kinds of outdoor tasks.
Before you go buying whatever sink catches your eye, make sure you’ve taken careful measurements of its ideal location in terms of:
- Where the water source is located (ex. height from the ground)
- The ideal width, height, and depth of your sink
- The ideal weight of your sink if you’re installing it on a structure like a deck or a patio
- Clearance the area around the sink for easy movement
- Distance of water source to nearby features (ex. deck furniture, grill, fire pit, etc.)
Make sure to keep these measurements handy when you buy other materials for the outdoor sink installation, such as piping or attachments, and remember to factor in any frame your sink will sit on or stand that supports it.
In addition to these measurements, you’ll want to carefully consider what materials your sink is made of.
Since your outdoor sink will be constantly exposed to the elements, you’ll want to make sure it is weather-resistant, even in the harshest conditions of your region. This will also be important to your plumbing, as you want to prevent any pipes from freezing, bursting, or cracking. We recommend choosing stainless steel or copper, as both are hardy materials that require little maintenance.
If you live in a particularly cold region where freezing rains and snow are common, it won’t hurt to purchase a cover for your outdoor sink as well, for additional protection when it’s not in use.
Attach Your Outdoor Sink to Its Water Source and Drainage System
All of your hard work has nearly paid off; you need to complete the final step and put all of the pieces together.
The time has come to connect your outdoor sink to its water source and drainage system. Hopefully, you have all of the materials you need, such as:
- An installed water source and drainage system
- A complete sink and frame or stand
- Piping to connect your sink to the water source
- Shutoff valves and drain plugs for system safety
- Adapters for all sink components (ex., sink trap, and sink tubes)
- Tools for installation (ex. wrenches, screwdrivers, seal tape)
With all these materials in hand, you can officially connect your new outdoor sink to its plumbing system and enjoy having a clean and convenient source of water outdoors. Your reliance on your indoor sink has now significantly decreased, and your options for outdoor activities have expanded.
Can You Have an Outdoor Sink Without Plumbing?
Sometimes you just want the convenience of an outdoor sink without the hassle of connecting it to some sort of plumbing system. Not only is this an extensive process, but it can get pretty pricey, especially when considering options like installing a new water line. So, is there a way to have your outdoor sink without the modern convenience of plumbing?
Yes, there are outdoor sink options that will function just as efficiently without the use of plumbing. Portable sinks are a popular choice, especially among campers, that often use an electric or simplified version of the self-contained lift system to provide and drain water. Alternatively, you can opt for a simple elevated tub that is sourced by a rain barrel or water you provide.
Of these two choices, a portable sink will resemble an indoor sink the most in terms of functionality. Most can even produce hot water if you have an electrical source for them. However, a majority of these sinks are small and meant almost exclusively for handwashing or similar small tasks, so if you’re looking for a large outdoor sink for heavy-duty tasks, you might have a hard time finding one of these that’s suitable.
Elevated tubs are by far the simplest and cheapest option, but you’ll have to do the majority of the heavy lifting since it isn’t connected to a plumbing system. This means providing whatever water you’ll need, efficiently collecting that water for disposal, and safely disposing of that water. We recommend this option for gardeners or individuals who want to provide an outlet for their kids or pets to rinse off before coming inside.
Installing an outdoor sink with plumbing is typically a task homeowners leave to professionals, but if you follow the steps in this guide and supplement them with sufficient plumbing research and knowledge, you’ll find you can install this feature yourself with ease.
Even if you hire a professional to take care of the plumbing part of the job, you can save on costs by taking over the rest of the installation process. Or you can cut the plumbing out completely and opt for an elevated tub or portable sink. It all comes down to what you’re looking for in an outdoor sink and how ambitious you are to have it installed.