If you’re refitting your kitchen with new units and worktops, you may simply be throwing away the old kitchen. However, sometimes the old kitchen is in perfectly reasonable condition and it’s just that it isn’t to your taste or, you are completely changing the layout and adapting the old is not possible.
It may therefore be worth considering selling off the old kitchen or even giving it away to somebody who can make use of it. In this case, you need to take things apart carefully so that the kitchen can be reassembled properly, with the minimum of damage.
The first job will be to disconnect all the services.
Disconnecting the Water Supply
The hot and cold water supplies to the sink are often fitted with isolation valves, in which case these can simply be turned off. If not, you will need to switch off the incoming mains for the cold water and, depending on the system you have, isolate the hot feed from the hot water cylinder.
If there are no isolation valves, it’s a good idea to fit them at this stage, even if the pipework is going to be changed to suit the new kitchen layout. By fitting them while the water is off, you will be able to isolate all the outlets in the kitchen and then put the water back on for the rest of the house while the work is going on.
The water supply to the various appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers can be isolated by closing off the service or isolation valves.
Disconnecting the Electricity Supply
If the entire kitchen layout is being changed and socket outlets and the like are to be repositioned, then it’s probably easier to isolate the kitchen power circuits completely so that everything can be safely disconnected. You should have a professional electrician do this for you. The lighting can be left connected unless you are planning alterations to this as well. While working on the kitchen you can use an extension lead run from another part of the house for power tools etc.
Disconnecting the Gas
If you have a gas supply to the kitchen for the oven and/or hob, you will need to have this isolated so that the appliances can be removed. You must use a Gas Safe Registered engineer for this. See www.gassafe.org It’s as well to have the supply isolated at a point well away from the appliances and out of the way of all work, as you are likely to need the gas rerouted for any new appliances.
Having isolated the water and the electricity supplies, you can now remove appliances before dismantling the units themselves. For the washing machine, you will need to disconnect the water hose, or hoses if it’s a hot and cold fill machine. You will also need to disconnect the waste hose. These hoses will probably have a residual amount of water in them so have a bucket handy. Unplug the flex from the socket-outlet and slide the machine out from under the worktop. The process for removing the dishwasher is similar, although the flex may be connected to a fused connection unit rather than a socket outlet. If this is the case, double-check that the power is off and, undo the faceplate of the FCU and disconnect the flex. The dishwasher can now also be slid out from under the worktop.
Electric ovens, hobs, and extractor hoods can be disconnected from their fused connection units in the same way. Gas ovens and hobs may have been disconnected individually by the Gas Safe Engineer, or the supply capped off at a point further away from the appliances. Undo the retaining fixings for the hob and lift it carefully out of the worktop. As you lift it to make sure no trailing flex or pipework catches as you pull it through the opening.
Undo the retaining screws holding the oven in place in its housing. For built-in ovens, these are usually found in the recessed edges once you open the door. When lifting an oven out of its housing, bear in mind that they can be very heavy – particularly a double oven. Have someone help lift them out.
Locate and undo the mounting fixings for the extractor hob. Hobs are not always that heavy but a second person taking the weight as the fixings are undone will make the job easier.
Removing the Sink
With the water supplies isolated, you can disconnect the tap. Undo the bottom connection of the braided tails where they join the copper compression fitting. Hold the fitting with a wrench while you do this to prevent putting any turning pressure on the pipework. Disconnect the waste.
Place a bucket or other container under the trap and disconnect it from the waste pipe and the sink outlet. If the waste is going to be disconnected for a while, it’s a good idea to seal the end of the pipe with an old plastic bag to minimise smells and prevent debris from getting into the pipe. With the hot and cold tails disconnected and the waste disconnected, the retaining fixings on the underside of the sink can be undone. You may also need to disconnect the earth cable from the clamp on the base of metal sinks. Once this is all done, you can ease the sink up out of the worktop. Some force may be needed initially to release the bond where the sink has been bedded on sealant around the outer edges.
Removing the Doors and Drawers
The door hinges on some modern cabinets have a release clip allowing the removal of the doors without needing to undo the hinge fixings. However, to make it easier to store the doors, you will need to undo the screws holding the door on the hinges. Once removed, store the doors carefully with a sheet of protective material between them to prevent scratching. Bubble wrap is ideal for this.
Drawers can usually be removed by extending them and lifting upwards to release from the runners. You may have to examine the drawer runner mechanism though as some systems include a retaining clip which needs to be released before the drawers will come out. If all the drawers are the same, it’s a very good idea to number them on the underside and note which cabinet they belong to, making reassembly easier.
Removing the Worktops.
Looking inside the cabinets at the underside of the worktop, identify the fixings which hold it in place. Undo these to release the worktop. At joins, you may have a mitred and bolted joint, in which case you should undo this as well. If you have tiled splashbacks, you may need to remove the bottom row to free the worktop. Similarly, upstands will need removing beforehand as well. Lift out one section of the worktop at a time. Gently prise joints apart to release the sealant which will have been used. Lifting worktops is a two-man job and must be done gently. Vulnerable areas such as the sink and hob cuts outs are prone to breaking if undue force is used.
Removing Cornice, Light Pelmets, and Plinths
Cornices can be removed by undoing the fixing screws from above which fasten them to the top of cabinets. Light pelmets are usually screwed via brackets mounted on the underside of the wall units and with these undone will come away easily. Plinths are generally held in place by brackets mounted on the back which clip onto the legs of the base units. These can be removed by pulling gently away from the legs.
Removing the Cabinets
The cabinets themselves will be fixed to the wall via various types of brackets. The base units generally have simple fixing points through the back rail of the cabinet and this really only serves to retain them in place as the weight is taken by the legs. Where multiple units are positioned side by side, there will normally be two screws in each fastening it to the next unit, so these will need to be removed as well. Having removed the fixings, the unit can be lifted out and stored away.
The wall units, on the other hand, have more substantial brackets which take the full weight of the unit (plus contents). To remove these, it is usually a case of slackening the screws at the back on each side and, having removed any screws between cabinets, lifting the unit up off its brackets.
Storage of Old Kitchen
Stack all the cabinets carefully along one wall – base units first then wall units on top. Worktops should be placed on their back edge and lent against these. Put a protective layer between each section to reduce the risk of scratching. All pelmets, cornices and plinths can then be laid in front of these. Appliances can then be stored in front.