Plumbing hack: IKEA bathroom sink drain connections

I spent two weekends installing the IKEA Odensvik sink and Godmorgon cabinet in the basement bathroom. It’s super tricky. I researched several postings online before starting the install.

The most difficult part is assembling the sink drain connections. The cabinet has two drawers that do not occupy the full depth of the cabinet in order to provide some space for the plumbing connections. That little amount of space trips up a lot of people. After I saw photos of this hack, I was somewhat hopeful that I can make it work. However, the waste line for my sink is pointing straight out, no 90-degree elbow as shown in those photos. And my guess is that almost everyone else is in the same boat. I read several other postings about cutting into the back of the drawers. I was determined to avoid that trouble. Here’s the end result of my hack:

I know this looks a bit nuts but trust me, it works! The sections between the wall and the p-trap fit in the space between the drawers. Here’s a view below the upper drawer:

And here’s the view above the bottom drawer:

The main reason I was able to hack into the between-the-drawers space is that I assembled the drawers and the drain pipes simultaneously. This might not work for your situation. In my case, the center of the sink waste line is about 18-1/2″ off the floor. I installed the sink cabinet at almost the lowest height recommended according to the Godmorgon installation instructions (a little higher than 28-7/8″). The bottom of the waste line ends up below the top edge of the bottom drawer. I wish I had installed the cabinet a little lower so that the waste line is centered between the drawers but no such luck. Perhaps for the folks who come after me, you will have a chance to improve on my hack.

After hanging the cabinet and setting up the drawers (complete the drawers’ adjustments explained at the end of the cabinet installation instructions) to determine their relationship against the waste line, it is time to figure out what plumbing parts you need to add to the IKEA’s sink drain kit. These are the slip-joint parts I installed – starting from the wall towards the J-bend of the p-trap:

The elbow comes with a pair of nut and washer on each end. Replacing one of the washers with a reducing washer provides the transition needed to connect with the IKEA parts. In addition, I replaced the IKEA p-trap’s 90-degree waste arm with the 1-1/4″ wall tube. The waste arm appears to attach to the J-bend by compression. When I rehearsed the assembly, I couldn’t tighten the accompanied 1-1/4″ nut and washer enough to keep the waste arm attached. The wall tube also provides the flexibility to work with the other parts in some off-kilter angles.

In terms of the assembly, I started from each end of the connections (sink and waste line) and performed the cuts around the p-trap area. Although the IKEA instructions suggested cutting the sink drain pipe (the piece that connects with the metal drain flange under the sink), that’s the piece you should not cut at all. I actually wish that it is longer so I can set the vertical Y-branch (two branches at the top for the sink drain and overflow) at the far back corner of the cabinet. In the end, I positioned the J-bend and 1-1/4″ wall tube in an unusual way to make it work. If you want a super detailed step-by-step list of instructions modified with a few of my afterthoughts, click here.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Install the faucet before starting the drain installation but delay attaching the flexible supply lines after the drain is done. If it is an IKEA bathroom sink faucet, apply plumber’s putty on the underside of the faucet for a water tight seal (the thin black gasket that came with the faucet doesn’t do the trick).
  • If you use a hack saw to cut the drain pipe parts, make sure to deburr the rough edges of the pipes (clog prevention). I used a file and box cutter. Alternatively, you can use a deburring tool. Or you can avoid all this trouble by using a PVC pipe cutter.
  • If it becomes truly impossible to avoid cutting into the back of the drawers, consider using metal mending plates to bridge the wooden slats. (I bought some just in case but I didn’t have to use them after all – so lucky, I know.)

This is all I can remember. If you have done something similar, feel free to share your tips in the comments.

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39 thoughts on “Plumbing hack: IKEA bathroom sink drain connections

  1. I am installing a sink and cabinet, and the drain pipe pipe would hit the drawers. I like your idea – but what is the part coming out of the bottom of the sink so you can re-point the drain the other way?

    • Do you mean the big elbow below the black gasket? Those parts came with the IKEA sink. If you got a non-IKEA sink, you will have to get some other parts to do the thing.

  2. “the thin black gasket that came with the faucet doesn’t do the trick”–quite an understatement. Thanks for confirming that putty should solve it.

  3. I used a p-trap with an accordion like flexible section in the j-bend I found at home depot : Everbilt form-n-fit p-trap. It extends from 3 to 6 inches and offsets up to 2.5 inches. Looks great too.

  4. Nice write up. Just for anyone else searching for an answer as I am, Here is my dilemma. I am installing an ikea double vanity and searching for a solution for the drain connection to the wall. Instructions show 1 1/4″ pipe but what I pulled out of the package is 1 11/16″. This is also larger than the typical 1 1/2″ slip coupling. It will not fit. (Surely with proper application of heat it will fit, but no one wants a leak).
    Ikea support was not helpful at all.
    If I resolve and have life remaining, I will update.

    • I had to hack off what was coming out of the wall for the drain pipe as it interfered with the drawers. I went to HD and got what I thought was the right part and connected it. The Ikea pipe wouldn’t fit in it.

      I cut that off and went to HD. It turns out I had to buy 2 piece as they didn’t have the right adapter to just connect to my drain pipe. I bought a male adapter and a joining piece.

      Bring the Ikea pipe to the store and make sure the ring fits what you buy and the Ikea pipe fits in what you buy.

      • Great idea, Mike! Instead of taking the IKEA pipe to the store, I just bought a bunch of misc parts, put them together like a puzzle and returned what I didn’t use. Not the best approach but it worked for me.

  5. I’m installing this exact same sink and vanity combination, but into lathe and plaster. We’ll be using feet to help secure the vanity, but I’m still concerned that it won’t be secure enough. Did you just follow the Ikea instructions (drill screws directly into wall, hang) or did you hang into a stud, onto a rail, or some other method?

    • I used toggle bolts to hang the vanity to the wall but I also followed the IKEA instructions to screw a bolt through the back board into a stud located just about center to the sink. The feet should take most of the weight off the wall. That’s the best way to go but it’s not the look I was aiming for. Good luck.

  6. Where you came out of the wall you went up. This chokes off the vent and is illegal . Call a plumber . You don’t know what your doing .

    • The bathroom has passed all the inspections as required by the plumbing permit. Can you kindly explain why it would choke off the vent? The p-trap seems to be doing its job. I heard no noise and there is no smell to indicate a venting problem.

      • Hi Joanne!
        Where are you located? is it in Massachusetts, by chance? I am afraid I will not pass plumbing inspection doing the trap installation that way.
        Tks,
        Joe

  7. Not sure what the chokes the vent comment is all about, but it shouldn’t have passed inspection. Inspectors don’t always look as close at things as they should. Its not that bad. The pipe from the trap to the wall is supposed to only slope a max of 1/4″ per foot. That 45 ell downward into the 90 ell at the wall is not allowed by plumbing codes. The basic rule is 1/4″ per foot or straight down. No inbetween. 1/4 per foot keeps the water flowing slowly to float other stuff down the drain instead of leaving it behind in the pipe to minimize clogging. You should have added an extension to that Ikea overflow branch to lower the trap so you could go straight (1/4″ per foot) across from the trap to the wall 90 ell.

    • Thanks for the feedback. The main purpose of this post is about taking advantage of the space between the two drawers of the IKEA sink cabinet for the drain pipes so as to avoid cutting into the drawers. That’s the reason for the 45 degree L connected to the 90 degree at the wall. If the upper sections were cut at the lengths that level with the wall connection, the horizontal section would be in the space of the bottom drawer. The only “correct” solution would be to lower the whole cabinet to line up the wall connection with the in-between drawer space. Like most people have learned, by the time the cabinet and sink are installed, the wall connection is not where we want it to be and there is nothing we can do about it. And if the wall connection is low, aiming the cabinet at it might cause the final sink height to be lower than code requirement. The IKEA two-drawer sink cabinet is truly a pesky problem.

  8. The comments about the plumbing are correct. That piping should have never passed inspection and does choke off the venting. These graphics are the best I can find to show the point about the chocked off vent: http://www.homerepairforum.com/images/uploads/2004-11-30_Sanitary%20tee%20vs%20combo_w550.JPG and http://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?attachments/airwaste-jpg.13597/

    You run the risk of the trap emptying completely and losing its sealing ability. As well as the pipes losing their ability to self scour leading to blockages. A competent plumber will have the right sort of waste pipes to remedy this situation. Plus you will get completely glued connections between the pipes. Never liked those wing-nut secured pipes – they eventually leak.

  9. B.S. No way risk of the trap emptying completely …….you can see a lot just by LOOKING……It’ll work just fine……AND the 1/4″ @ ft deal is meant to keep liquids from outrunning solids and is valid for soil pipes….not so much important for vanity drain….

    • Thanks for chiming in. Your explanation of the 1/4″ per foot drop makes sense. I won’t ever attempt to connect soil pipes myself. Your feedback is reassuring.

    • Not to insult anyone. But no plumber would consider this acceptable.

      To explain this as easy as possible, in the direction of flow after the trap you cannot change the direction up (or vertical) in any way before your vent which is located behind your wall.
      Connecting your pipes in this assembly will create what is called a “s trap”. Not sure of your area because I have seen some very crazy plumbing laws in different states but “s traps” directly connected to the plumbing system are illegal almost everywhere in the world.

      Now, I’m sure your sink drains and seems fine. But there are potential problems with installing the plumbing like this that can lead to problems that can happen at any point down the road.

      Without getting into the many different ways you can lose your trap seal, (the seal by water in your trap that protects your home from sewer gases entering your home) I would just state the obvious one and that is siphon. The water going down your drain can have enough momentum to siphon water from the drain so that there is no water left in the trap resulting in trap seal loss and no barrier for sewer gasses to come into your house and make everyone sick.

      I’ve installed a few of these IKEA cabinets in my travels and the best way I found is by installing a p trap from a hardware store (ABS or PVC material, whatever is code for your area). Glue the trap onto the pipe coming out of the wall and swing the trap arm so the trap is against the wall so the cabinet will fit. On top of the trap install a 1 1/2″ trap adapter. The white tube dropping from the IKEA factor drain fits inside the trap adapter. Unfortunately for the tight fit under the sink you have to use the IKEA supplied drain and overflow for the first few connections before the trap.

      I’ve never found the IKEA gasketed fittings to be made from good quality so I don’t use them under any circumstances.

      Hope this helps anyone reading

      SOURCE:
      I’m a Canadian Red Seal Journeyman plumbing with 12 years experience. And I’ve installed about 20 of these IKEA cabinets.

      • Thank you for the feedback. It’s good to finally hear from someone who has experience installing the IKEA sink and vanity.

        In regards to the risk of the p-trap being siphoned empty, there has not been any smell at all. I looked into the s-trap issue you mentioned. I read that a p-trap would be considered an s-trap if the horizontal section is shorter than 2 times the diameter of the trap. I measured between the wing nut and the start of the bend above the trap and it is more than 4 inches. My guess is that there is water in trap. The only sure way to tell is if I take the trap apart or someone loan me a sewer cam.

        The pipe coming out of the wall in my case is sticking out a lot. It has threads at the end so I opted for PVC and not cutting it short which would allow me to do what you explained. BTW, do you have photos of your previous installs? If you provide a link to the photos, I will post it here as an update. Thanks.

        • Yes. You are correct about the minimum length of a trap arm must be minnimum 2 waste pipe diameters from the trap to the vent.

          But also having any change in direction in vertical direction on your trap arm creates an s trap as well.

          Plumbing follows a principal based on atmospheric pressure. Siphon happens when atmospheric pressure is eliminated. Think about it if you were to siphon gas out of a car, you create the siphon by filling the tube with gas and the tube will flow gas for as long as there is gas in the tank, until air breaks the flow.

          (Just some blah blah plumbing lesson sorry)

          Now even though plumbing works on this principal, you might not always see a siphon but it drastically increases chances of it happening. A properly vented trap has a 0% chance of siphon and a s-trap might have maybe 20% chance, but no one really knows.

          One thing you might notice is that the water will drain slower from the sink in this situation as well.

          I think I’ve blabbed on enough. Sorry I must be bored.

          I’m actually installing an IKEA cabinet this week I’ll post some pics to explain myself more

          • I haven’t notice the drain being slow. It actually works better than the pedestal sink in my other bathroom which was installed by a contractor with a pop-up drain assembly – catching hair and other gunk. ;(

  10. That’s against code you nut. The slope of the pipe cannot exceed the diameter of the pipe after the protecting fixture trap, before the fixture’s vent. This could have easily been done correctly. Btw. I am a licensed red seal plumber. Please stop listening to hardware store “plumbers” if they knew better they would be charging out $100/HR. Doing actual plumbing.

  11. Regarding the comment about venting and emptying the p-trap, when a volume of water is drained, the drain needs to replenish the space formerly occupied by water with air, otherwise a negative pressure is created. A negative pressure, if created, would tend to pull at the water in the p-trap and can, if strong enough, siphon water from the p-trap. If enough water is siphoned from the p-trap then the sealing feature of the p-trap will be breached and nasty sewer gasses could enter the home through the drain line (as well as various bugs and insects that invariably inhabit the sewer system). Given that you did this replumb a couple of years ago it should be obvious by now if this is happening as you’d likely have noticed an unpleasant smell in your bathroom. As one comment mentioned, it’s not that bad, so it’s probably working ok even though it doesn’t meet code and shouldn’t have passed inspection. As an aside, while it’s nice to gain under cabinet space as you did, one doesn’t want to defeat the purpose of proper sink drainage in the process!

  12. Great post. I will be doing IKEA plumbing soon. Do you have a measure of the gap between the wall and the end of drawer? How much space do I have for plumbing? Thanks for your help!

  13. Hi,
    So 5 years ago I got one of these, and come to find out the overflow thing is leaking a little underneath (1 drop every 10 min, when there is drops to leak) …
    there is a smooth pipe stuff connected to sink overflow, and then a corrugated pipe that goes into it,
    at the connection is where water is seeeping out until it drips below
    I don’t remember if this connection is glued, Did you glue yours?
    I’d hate to try disassembling this thing
    I’m thinking of simply caulking or foam gluing this exit point as its only dripping 1 drop per 10min

    • I didn’t use any glue. I am not experiencing any leaks from the overflow. I have read others had leaks from the trim cap that goes over sink overflow. I added plumber’s putty under that trim cap and I did the same to the faucet. Perhaps your leak is originated from those places if the caulking doesn’t solve the problem.

  14. Recommend taking this down to avoid more installations like this. Sorry to sound like a jerk 🙂

  15. My overflow is leaking from the exact same location, I get a drip at the connection between the overflow connector and the ribbed pipe. Going to try teflon tape, but I doubt it will work. Perhaps some silicone caulking. I installed the sink myself about 4 years ago and never had a leak anywhere else. Followed the instructions, but used better gaskets than provided and some putty at the drain.

  16. Sorry I know this post is old and maybe I’m missing something but Ikea drains are just pvc offset drains aren’t they? Think that style was originally for ADA lavatory sinks but can obviously be used for other applications. Interestingly, the ADA offset drains are also 1.25″. I’m about to install an ikea double sink, four drawer bathroom vanity soon in the spare bathroom for a remodel of a 1950’s house. This vanity should work perfectly in the space since Ikea’s standard ~19″ depth is really all that will work in the tiny bathroom (unless I get something custom made). Having a plumber install that though 🙂 I’m also doing an ikea dresser hack trying to get a similar look in the master bathroom but with a standard 24″ depth instead. Have been researching how to copy this type of plumbing. Since, as mentioned, Ikea doesn’t sell their plumbing separately. So this was an interesting post and discussion since I’m hoping to maximize the drawer space (specifically the top drawer) in that application as well, I’ll probably be using an offset drain there too. Thanks for this post! Wanted to mention since there were some very angry anti-ikea comments that I don’t think ikea’s quality/price ratio even compares to the quality/price ratio of builder’s grade items that we consider “standard” in the US. I’m not sure why they get such a bad rep. I don’t think you could expect to get any where near solid wood cabinets or dressers from a US company without a significant price tag. I think Ikea is awesome.

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