How to Fix a Leaking Garbage Disposal

A leaky garbage disposal might go unnoticed until you encounter a wet cabinet, a dripping sound, or a foul-smelling puddle. The repair might also be annoying because the leakage can originate from a variety of system components.

It’s, however, essential to note that just because a disposal is leaking doesn’t always mean you need to replace it, and you may not need to hire a plumber for a costly repair. Before replacing a disposal, you may save money by checking and troubleshooting.

How Can I Fix My Leaking Garbage Disposal?

Fixing a leaking garbage disposal is pretty straightforward, depending on the area where it leaks from. A disposal is most likely to leak in one of three places: the bottom, top, or side.

The location of the leak is a reliable indicator of the complexity of the situation. Sometimes, the needed repairs are not with the appliance itself, but with the surrounding plumbing. 

Source: Fazzino Plumbing

This guide will go through some of the most prevalent causes and what you may do to fix them on your own. However, if none of these methods work, it may be time to contact a plumbing technician, especially if leakage comes from the bottom of your disposal.

Identifying the Source of the Leakage

Leaking Garbage DIsposal

Identifying the source of the leakage is the first step in the fixing process. Fortunately, you can locate the source of a problem by following these simple steps:

1. Locate the disposal device within your sink cabinet.

2. If you notice water leaking from any spot beneath the sink, search for a rubber sealant around the seam. Check to see whether it’s missing or cracked, in which case it’ll need to be replaced.

3. Check all drain lines and pipes visible beneath the sink or garbage disposal. Inspect the valves and rubber gaskets for damage. Check to see that the pipe is not kinked or filled with debris that might drain and cause a leak.

Let’s look at what various leaks at different parts of your trash disposal indicate and when you should call a certified plumber for garbage disposal repair service.

Garbage Disposal Leaking from the Top

If your disposal is leaking from the top, the issue might be something else entirely! It might be caused by the rubber gasket on the top, which connects to the disposal unit’s mounting ring.

The flange is the noticeable section of your sink surrounding the drain hole. To prevent leakage, most flanges are coated with a clay-like sealer known as plumber’s putty. Although not as popular, some disposals use screws to secure the flange.

Over time, the plumber’s putty degrades (or the screws loosen), and the sink flange no longer forms a watertight seal. This can also occur while other plumbing maintenance is being performed beneath the sink, as the disposal may be struck or disturbed sufficiently to weaken the seal.

Piping repairs can also cause a disposal unit to leak from the side, as people frequently neglect to unhook the dishwasher’s drain plumbing, which links to the disposal, before removing their dishwasher for repair.

How to Fix a Garbage Disposal Leaking from the Top

Although fixing a leaking disposal is easy in theory, it may be a major undertaking, particularly if you’re not used to working with plumbing. To perform the repairs, you’ll need to remove the disposal and re-seal the sink flange using plumber’s putty.

Turn off the water and electricity

To remove and replace the gasket, you must first remove the drain and unplug the disposal connection. If you have a dishwasher, unplug the dishwasher drain line from the disposal.

Remove the Disposal

With the drains and cable removed, use the proper wrench to grip the sides of the mounting nut and twist counterclockwise to free the disposal. The appliance should drop down immediately.

Take off the flange

Remove the bolts that hold the flange in place. Then find the clip that secures the bottom flange. Pop the clip from its groove using a screwdriver. Then, pull the top flange away from the sink.

Reattach the flange

Roll out a substantial amount of plumber’s putty to a consistent width and shape it into a snake-like gasket. Wrap the putty around the flange’s rim.

Put the flange back in its original position and secure the bottom flange with the clip. Tighten the screws properly until they are all firm. Scrape any excess putty from the inside of the sink.

Finish the repair and test the disposal

Reinstall the garbage disposal, reconnect the drains, and check for leaks.

Garbage Disposal Leaking From Bottom Holes

Garbage Disposal Leaking From Bottom
@Tzippy Sklarz

The problem is the same whether your trash disposal is leaking from the reset button, screws, or holes on the bottom. You have a major problem that will almost certainly necessitate the purchase of a new trash disposal.

The most common reason is a faulty internal seal inside the machine. Internal seals in garbage disposals safeguard the motor and prevent the machine from leaking. These seals deteriorate over time and eventually stop functioning as they should.

Another probable cause is a fracture in the protective case cover that surrounds the disposal. However, whether your disposal is leaking due to the casing or an internal seal, you will need to replace it.

How to Fix a Garbage Disposal Leaking from the Bottom

If you discover that your garbage disposal is spilling liquid from the bottom, you have a few options. It is essential to fix this problem as soon as possible, as mixing electricity and water may cause other problems.

The only good solution is to replace your waste disposal. A new disposal should last 8 to 14 years, depending on the quality of the equipment and frequency of use.

Garbage disposals, such as the Insinkerator, are reasonably priced and designed to be a simple replacement that works with your current plumbing. If you hire a plumber to install it for you, you can expect to pay roughly $400 for components and labor.

You can check our InSinkErator Review and Comparison to choose the one that suits your needs. 

Garbage Disposal Leaking from Side

If your disposal is leaking from the side, the issue is most likely the main drain line or dishwasher drain. In most scenarios, this is a relatively simple fix that you can perform without the assistance of a plumbing professional.

There are two drain pipes that connect to the garbage disposal: one for the dishwasher and one for the main drain. The smaller drain joins the dishwasher drain pipe to the dishwasher inlet on the disposal, while the bigger drain goes through the wall and connects the equipment to the sewer.

Because not all disposal units use the dishwasher drain, if you don’t have one, you won’t have to worry about this issue and can instead concentrate on the main drain line.

What Should You Do If Your Garbage Disposal Leaks From the Side?

If you have a screwdriver available, you can possibly fix the leak without contacting a plumber.

Because the little hose leads to the dishwasher drain, the leakage is most likely caused by a loose metal clamp, allowing water to flow down the side of the machine. Tighten the screw on the clamp using your screwdriver. This should secure the hose and, in most cases, stop the leak.

If your dishwasher drain continues to leak, the cause might be a warped or fractured hose fitting. In that situation, the hose must be replaced. Although this is not a difficult fix, you may need to hire a plumber or handyman to do it for you.

You may be able to prevent the leakage of the main drain line pipe by tightening the screws on the plate that links the hose to the unit. If it doesn’t work, it might be a broken gasket.

A rubber gasket is located underneath the drain hose’s metal plate. Detach the drain hose by removing the screws on the metal plate, then replace the gasket with a new one. This should stop the leak.

Avoiding Future Leaks

The proper usage of a garbage disposal can help prevent future leaks. So, only grind delicate things; hard materials like bones, raw potatoes, or apple cores might damage or dislodge the internal seals. 

To prevent solid fats from congealing into the muck, run cold water into the drain before and after using the appliance (which can damage the sink flange and cause leaks).

Finally, use the dyed-water test to inspect your garbage disposal for leaks at least once or twice a year to discover and correct minor leaks before they cause water damage to kitchen flooring and sink cabinets.

If you are experiencing other issues with your disposal, you can check our complete guide on How to FIx a Garbage Disposal.

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