A leaky garbage disposal is not only a hassle, but it’s also a mess and can result in other problems if left unfixed. If you’re inexperienced at home improvement work, diagnosing the source of the leak may seem like quite a challenge. Make your life easier with the help of the information below. Once you start eliminating each possible option on your checklist, you should be able to identify the problem quite quickly.
When your garbage disposal is leaking from the bottom, first find the leak.
If you’re wondering how to fix a leaking garbage disposal, you’ll first need to examine the area to see specifically from where the leak is coming. However, before you begin looking for the leak, you’ll need to take some safety and preparation measures.
- Turn off the garbage disposal completely and unplug the unit.
- Place a bag, a small garbage can, or a bucket underneath the sink to collect any leaking water.
- Turn on the water and fill up the sink a little less than half full.
- Take a bottle of food coloring, the brighter, the better, and place a few drops in the sink of water.
- Examine the bottom of your sink and look for any leaks.
The leak could be originating from multiple places on your garbage disposal.
When looking for leaks, the first place you want to start is where the sink and the garbage disposal are connected. This is a common place for a leak to occur. Another place you want to look at is the connection on the drain hose. However, you’ll have to turn on your dishwasher to detect this leak.
If you don’t locate the leak in either of those two areas, you’ll then want to look at the location where the drain line and garbage disposal meet in addition to underneath the garbage disposal system. Once you’ve found the general area of the leak, you’ll then need to figure out what is causing it.
Check the sink flange when the leak is from the top
If you’ve never heard of the flange or plumber’s putty, it’s the stuff that attaches your garbage disposal with your sink. As time goes by, this seal can begin to corrode, become loose, and eventually leak water. To fix this issue, you’ll need to:
- First, turn off the power and unplug your garbage disposal.
- Disconnect your garbage disposal from under your sink. You will more than likely need a screwdriver and a wrench.
- Remove any preexisting putty and reseal the area. You can also use a flange. A flange will tighten and compress the seal with screws.
- Once you have resealed the area, you can now reconnect your garbage disposal.
If you are inexperienced with home improvement projects, you may want to call a professional. You might need to remove some of the pipes near the unit and reconnect them when the job is completed.
A broken seal can result in your garbage disposal leaking from the bottom
If you have a broken seal on the inside of your garbage disposal, you will see leaking coming from the bottom of your unit. Leaks that come from the bottom of your garbage disposal are usually attributed to cracks on the inside of the device. This is due to basic wear and tear over time.
Typically, garbage disposals usually last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. Well-manufactured units may even last longer than that. If you’re really looking to save some money, you can always disconnect your unit, dissect it, seal the crack and reattach it. However, this is just a temporary fix. If you have the money, it’s best just to invest in a new unit.
If your garbage disposal is leaking from the side, the problem is probably with the drain lines
The drain lines are a common place from where your garbage disposal to leak. Get down and inspect the location where your drain lines attach to your garbage disposal. You will see two lines. The small line is the dishwasher disposal line, and the thicker line is the sewer disposal line (discharge tube).
While inspecting your unit, if you see leaking, you will need to equip yourself with a screwdriver and tighten the clamp that’s holding the garbage disposal to the dishwasher. The smaller drain line is attached by screws. Tighten these screws, and if the gasket is worn, replace this too. (Be careful not to overtighten.) You should be able to purchase gaskets at your local home improvement store for a fairly low price.
While you’re inspecting your drain lines, also look to see if you see wear and tear. Over the years, drain lines can sprout leaks and cracks that can lose water. If you notice that your lines look pretty worn, you may want to have them replaced. Again, if you are inexperienced with home improvement projects, it’s best to call a professional to tackle the job.
A garbage disposal that’s leaking from the reset button will need to be replaced
If your garbage disposal is leaking from the reset button, and your system is fairly old, you’ll probably just want to invest in a whole new system. It would be a waste of time and money to fix the reset button and find out in a couple of months that there’s another problem with the system.
However, if your garbage disposal is fairly new, having the reset button repaired is a better choice, especially if your unit is still under warranty. If your unit is under warranty, the company will probably send out a repairman to fix the problem. On the other hand, if your unit isn’t under warranty, it’s best to have a skilled technician complete the job unless you have experience doing this.
Cracks on body
You’ll want to look for cracks or wet spots on the body of your garbage disposal. If, by chance, you do find any, the unit will more than likely have to be replaced, especially if there are large, visible cracks.
Garbage disposals are usually attached beneath the kitchen sink, but because most families also keep their cleaning products and other necessities here, it’s easy to accidentally bump and move the unit out of place. If you find that your disposal is not in the right spot, make sure you reposition it as soon as possible.
What you should and shouldn’t do to keep your garbage disposal from leaking
✔ As you’re grinding something, run cold water down your drain.
✘ Never put hard food down the drain, only soft food.
✔ Perform regular inspections on your unit to ensure no leaks are present.
✘ Never put eggshells, potato peels, coffee grinds, pasta, rice, plastic, and paper down the garbage disposal.
✘ Bleach should never be poured down the drain.
Follow these tips, and you’ll protect your garbage disposal and extend the life of it as well.
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Kevin L. Sharp
He began his career in plumbing at the age of 14 while still in high school. Kevin Sharp has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Illinois State University.
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