Repairing a Rusted Reinforcement Rod in a Granite Countertop
I repaired two failed kitchen sink rods last week. You can see the homeowner’s repair attempt with the black gunk outside the edges of the crack on the Uba Tuba. In each case, it was compounding failures; latex instead of silicone caulk between the undermount stainless steel sink flange and the bottom of the granite; polyestered particle board scraps bonding the improperly caulked sink in place instead of a Hercules Universal Sink Harness; and steel instead of stainless steel rodding imbedded into the granite with polyester instead of epoxy as the Marble Institute of America recommends. Water from sink activity leaks past the failed caulk and ponds on the sink flange until the granite absorbs it. It passes through the polyester holding the rod, causing it to rust. The rusting steel expands, cracking the granite.
You’ve got to get access to the rod for removal. If the cabinets are frameless this means sawing through the metal dowels holding the cabinet front. Driving a chisel between two scrapers will pop off the cabinet façade; the sink blocks access to the screws.
A wood block and hammer will pop off a modern framed cabinet front easily and with no damage, however, don’t forget to remove any screws holding the sides.
The leaking sink flange delivers water to the bottom of the rod.
There aren’t too many things more unpleasant than lying on your back under a plastic tent and grinding out a rod with a diamond bladed Metabo while wearing safety glasses, hearing protection, and a respirator.
I ground as far as I could, stopped by the Metabo hitting the cabinet side. Fortunately, the small abandoned section of rod hadn’t rusted.
Disaster. I pried a little too hard on the rod and failed to reinforce the sink shoulders with blocking that is hot-melt glued to the top like this:
After screwing 1x4” blocking to the cabinet front bottom to hold it flat, I coated the white melamine with WD40 so the epoxy squeezing out of the pieces wouldn’t bond to it.
Having learned a valuable lesson, I made a sacrificial cut on each end through the bottom and sink edge on the Uba Tuba job.
The sacrificial cuts worked perfectly, breaking the top of the granite inside section exactly where I wanted and have exposed the failed rod with little grinding under the tent.
This is after glue-up and clamping, but before grinding and polishing. Sometimes the pieces must be ground in an unexposed area before they can be reassembled.
Before sink installation, I pump the rod slot full of silicone. It’s waterproof, cheap, strong, and will stay put upside-down. The cabinet will provide all the necessary strength in tension for the granite. When granite is properly installed on flat and level cabinets, rodding is expensive, unnecessary, and old-school. The invention of the Omni Cubed Sink Hole Saver has eliminated the only reason left to rod, transportation without breakage.
Yeah, I know it’s not a super gloss, but I polish to match the existing top.
I like to publish my least-favorite and least-flattering close-up of my repairs. It keeps me humble. I could probably make this look a bit better, but the meter is running on these jobs and that’s always a trade-off. This repair couldn’t be felt and the customer said while it wasn’t as good as new, he gave me a 4.5 (out of a possible 5) HomeAdvisor rating.
Repairing a failed rod is comparable to fixing a “totaled” car. The difference is, there are plenty of blue Chevys with nearly the same mileage as the one you wrecked and finding one is relatively easy and fast. There may or may not be a replacement slab of granite that matches the existing tops and finding one may not be easy and fast. Therein lies the problem/value of rod repairs. Even the $25.00-a-foot guys couldn’t have matched and replaced either of these tops for the $1,000.00 (+_) each that I charged for these repairs. These repairs are relatively inconspicuous, can’t be felt, and unlike replacements, the finish, particulates, movement, edge profile, and color match perfectly.