Is this giant mess made of plumber's putty, and if so, what can I expect to find behind it if I chisel (or Dremel) it off?

It has a slow leak so I'd like to fix it, but I'm not sure what it is, and I'm trying to prepare for what I'll need to do once I get it off. (Perhaps a trap adapter to marry the PVC + main drain pipe nipple?)

Bathroom sink drain

  • Expect trouble, not something that's easily repaired. You won't know what the nature of the trouble is until you rip this mess off so you can see it. You might try poking that mess with a utility knife - if it is old putty, you may be able to peel it off once you get through the hardened skin.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 23, 2020 at 1:07
  • It's rock-hard. Been there for at least 15-20 years.
    – Tom
    Nov 23, 2020 at 1:11
  • 2
    I bet that there is a good amount of decay in that wall as well
    – Ack
    Nov 23, 2020 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


Plumber's putty is usually soft. If it is hard (you mentioned chiseling it off), it's more likely some sort of epoxy putty that someone used to try to repair a broken pipe, and those things rarely work for long. I would expect to find a broken drain line that was too far into the wall to fix easily, or an old pipe that was cut off too close to a fitting to be able to glue a new piece onto it, meaning you may have to open up this wall to get to it and fix it right. That patch job just delayed the inevitable, and that has now fallen on you...

  • 2
    The outside surface of plumbers putty can harden up a bit after a while, so it might prove to be plumbers putty after all - but either way, it's a bad kludge and needs repair.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 23, 2020 at 1:03
  • If a plumber uses epoxy putty (like this), does it become "plumber's putty"?
    – AndreKR
    Nov 23, 2020 at 12:22
  • 1
    In a strictly grammatical sense, I suppose so. But there is a product CALLED "Plumber's Putty" that is specifically for putting on threads as a sealant or putting around fixtures like sinks and faucets to seal against water seeping around or under them. Plumber's Putty (capital letters) is made with linseed oil in it that prevent it from solidifying so that you can someday remove said pipes and fixtures. It will dry out and harden eventually, but would have never really worked in the way that image shows.
    – JRaef
    Nov 23, 2020 at 21:54
  • But I guess looking at it again, maybe it never DID work...
    – JRaef
    Nov 23, 2020 at 21:55

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