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One of the last choices made when buying a new sink, and often considered somewhat irrelevant, is where the drain is set. It can be placed dead-center in the bowl, or offset to the back; either in a corner or in the center. Each location has its advantages and disadvantages, so the decision deserves a little more thought than it's usually given.

Older sinks are almost always centerset. When sinks went into mass production many years ago, the thinking was that a centered drain appeased both left-handers and right-handers. There never seemed to be a reason to change, until recently. So the odds are, your old sink is centerset and it probably seems automatic that you should replace it with another centerset. That reasoning is understandable, and it lets you maintain the plumbing as is; but don't let fear that switching to an offset model is a plumbing nightmare; it isn't. If you are used to your centerset sink, and like it, there may be no reason to change; but review the benefits of an offset one to make an informed decision.

Did you ever set a number of dishes, or a large dirty pan, into your centerset sink and then continue to run the water to wash other items? You may have experienced the sink filling with gross water because the drain was blocked. If that happens a lot, and it bugs you; know that it can be avoided if the drain is offset. Also, its less likely, but not unheard of, for leaks to develop along the drain seal due to the pressure unwittingly applied to it as you scrub those pans right over it.

Maybe you'd like to hide your trash basket under the sink, but there's no room because of the plumbing connected to your centered drain. The offset design forces the plumbing back and maybe to one side, clearing space down below for more, and larger, items. However, if you have a garbage disposal, measure ahead of time to make sure it will fit and be accessible if offset.

Should someone in your household use a wheelchair, an ADA-approved sink will benefit them in many ways. Most ADA sinks have an offset drain, forcing the plumbing away from the front and allowing room for the chair to be tucked in.

Arguments for centered drains include being able to line up the faucet directly over the drain. Why? Some people feel there is less noise if the running water goes right into the drain rather than hitting the bottom of sink. Along those same lines, there can be annoying splashing if the water hits the bottom, though typically this only occurs when a tall faucet is paired with a deep sink. For those who often divide chores on the inside a single-bowl sink; e.g. dirty dishes on one side and food prep scraps on the other, a centered drain means water will not have to run under any of those items to reach the offset drain. Sometimes it becomes a split decision with a double-bowl sink. The large side might get an offset drain while the smaller, prep sink side is centerset.

So go shopping! Pick a sink in the material you like, in the mounting style you prefer, and with the number of bowls you need. Then give a little thought to the drain location so you can be sure the new sink is best suited to your household needs.