Garbage disposals are not required but they come in handy in the kitchen because it gives you the freedom to select food waste to be disposed of easily through the sink. It helps a lot in kitchen cleanups and in not worrying about where the food waste goes. However, it is not invulnerable to leaking and it could be a problem when that happens.
To anticipate the steps that you should carry out, here are some of the most common reasons as to why garbage disposals leak and not just from the bottom. So, if you need to know these right now, read on.
In this article:
- What is a garbage disposal?
- Garbage disposal leaking from bottom
- Garbage disposal leaking from top
- Garbage disposal leaking from side
- Garbage disposal leaking from weep hole
- Garbage disposal leaking from power cord
- Garbage disposal leaking from sink flange
- How hard is it to replace a garbage disposal?
- How much does it cost to replace a garbage disposal?
- Dos and don’ts in using garbage disposal
- FAQs on Garbage Disposal
- Can I use the dishwasher if garbage disposal is leaking?
- Can you replace the seal on a garbage disposal?
- What is the life expectancy of a garbage disposal?
- How do you know when your garbage disposal needs to be replaced?
- Is it worth it to repair a garbage disposal?
- Do garbage disposals cause plumbing problems?
- How can I unclog my jammed garbage disposal?
- Is it okay to use wd40 to lubricate the garbage disposal?
- Water from the disposal is coming up
What is a garbage disposal?
A disposal is a small device installed underneath the sink. It is a motorized device whose main function is to grind food wastes into smaller, finer particles for safer disposal down the pipes or drain.
It is not required but of course, having it for the home could do wonders. Here are some of the benefits of having a garbage disposal in the kitchen sink.
- Saves time during dishwashing
- Leaves the kitchen with less trash
- Reduces mold and insect niching
- Lessens foul odor in the kitchen
- Lessens clogging by the drainpipes
- Cost efficiency in terms of plumbing
- It performs its functions well for a long period of time
- It is energy and environment friendly
- It comes with a lot of handy features
- It is recommended by plumbers
When you see leaks from the bottom of a garbage disposal, the most probable culprit would be a damaged internal seal. It could be caused by many factors, and it includes being worn out due to old age. If you are suspecting a bottom leak, here is what you should look out for:
- Inspect the body: Check the garbage disposal itself and search for wet spots, drips along the body or possible cracks.
- Shifts in position: The garbage disposal is found along the cleaning supplies. If it is occasionally bumped whenever you get a cleaning material, it might shift position and could be dented or cracked.
To confirm garbage disposal leak from the bottom, here are the steps to follow:
- Turn off the garbage disposal unit.
- Put a garbage bag or a bucket underneath the sink to collect water.
- Turn on the faucet and fill the bucket at less than half.
- Get food dye and drop it to the sink while the water is on.
- Find where the colored water is coming from.
If these things are observed in the garbage disposal, you can amend by resealing spots with putty, repositioning the disposal and replacement for cracks.
If you suspect a garbage disposal leak from the bottom, it could be one of the following reasons:
- Worn out internal seal.
- Damaged sink flange seal.
- Damaged drain lines.
- Cracks on the garbage disposal unit.
- Worn out rubber gasket.
Signs pointing to a garbage disposal leak
Since the most common causes of leaking garbage disposal are narrowed down to loose screws, damaged reset buttons and internal seals, you must know the early signs that point to a garbage disposal leak.
- Damp cabinet underneath the sink.
- Flooding underneath the sink.
- When you hear a dripping sound every time you turn on the garbage disposal.
- Smell of rotten food coming from the cabinet under the sink.
The truth is, be it leaks from the bottom screw, the bottom holes or the bottom reset button, the main reason is a cracked or overly damaged internal seal. As such, you need to repair it with putty or replace it once and for all.
As has been mentioned, the internal seal holds the garbage disposal motor in place. If you do not replace it immediately, it would be more expensive to get another garbage disposal set.
If the reset button is acting up and leaks on an old garbage disposal unit, it is probably time to replace the unit altogether. But if it is relatively new, check your warranty if it still can be covered by the manufacturer.
If not, have a trusted repairman fix it for you because it is more complicated to fix than you think. The most common reason behind a leak from the reset button is a damaged internal seal.
Garbage disposal experts would tell you that when the leak comes from the bottom, the range of fixes surrounding it is very limited. Leaking from the bottom is usually an indicator of more pressing problems around the unit. This means that while you can give it a quick fix like using a new layer of putty, it could result in more future leaks that could cost you more in the long run.
Choosing a more durable one is left for another feature but if you are thinking of installing a new one, it is time to leave it to the pros.
Garbage disposal leaking from top
The most likely cause of a garbage disposal leaking from the top would be due to a loose sink flange. It is that part which connects the sink drain to the garbage disposal itself. Because it is just connected by putty, it might wear out in time (corrosion) or it is no longer tight enough to hold it in place.
If you are suspecting this, here are the steps to confirm leaks from the sink flange:
- Turn off the garbage disposal unit. Disconnect it entirely from the dishwasher or under the sink.
- Prepare a wrench and a screwdriver. Remove all the compromised putty.
- Loosen the drainpipe and then remove the bolts attached to the flange’s underside.
- Now, use a flange and tighten the screws. Compress it a bit to make sure that everything is in place.
- After you reseal the area, it is time to reconnect the garbage disposal.
When the job requires removing nearby pipes around the garbage disposal unit, you might want to call for a professional to just do the job for you.
Garbage disposal leaking from side
If the leak of the garbage disposal is coming from the side, you must check the drain line connection. Most often than not, the dishwasher’s drain pipe is connected to the garbage disposal. This is because the drainpipe functions to remove any food waste excess from the dishwasher and down to the garbage disposal.
To check, first, you should inspect the clamp. The drain line is connected through screws and then tightened by a rubber gasket located inside. When the metal clamp is loose, it could drain from the side, so you must tighten it up.
Another measure is by inspecting the hose. Check for dried out spots or cracks in the hose which connects the garbage disposal to the dishwasher. If it is cracked, replace it first before running the dishwasher.
Garbage disposal leaking from weep hole
The weep hole is that small opening for the water drainage. It is usually located at the topmost part of the garbage disposal unit. It is also known as the side drain for the dishwasher.
Having one keeps the water from leaking every time you run the garbage disposal. Sometimes, due to excessive water pressure, the drain pipes could be damaged, leading to leaks from the weep hole. The best fix to this is to replace the drain pipes themselves.
Garbage disposal leaking from power cord
This is the most immediate cause for concern because well, water and electricity are a serious fire hazard. Flip down the circuit breaker or fuse to make sure that there is no active electricity there. Check for tearing in the power cord. If there is an exposed wire there, replace it immediately. It might also be best to just check with a trusted electrician to fix it for you.
Leaks on the power cord could also indicate that you must replace the unit. While you work on this issue, you should not run the garbage disposal at any time until it is professionally assessed.
Garbage disposal leaking from sink flange
If it is the sink flange that is causing the leak from the garbage disposal, just check the ‘leaking from the top’ section of this post. For a visual of the steps written there, click here.
How hard is it to replace a garbage disposal?
If you happen to know stuff about basic plumbing and other house jobs, it should not be that hard for you. But if you do not have any know-how about this, note that replacing a garbage disposal includes a hammer, hex wrench, pliers, screwdrivers, and hacksaws. You also must work around putty, silicone and of course, a new garbage disposal unit.
Family Handyman gives you a step-by-step feature of how to replace a garbage disposal. After checking it out, rate how hard garbage disposal is to replace yourself, depending on your grasp of the terms, parts, and steps.
How much does it cost to replace a garbage disposal?
On average, the total cost of replacing a garbage disposal is between $50-350. The national average cost for replacement is placed at $150. You also must note some significant breakdowns. For one, the average cost for a whole garbage disposal unit replacement, including the cost of a new unit, labor costs and other materials would be at $250-500.
Dos and don’ts in using garbage disposal
To prevent future leaks in your garbage disposal unit, here are some dos and don’ts that you should never forget:
|When you are grinding up something, never forget to run cold water down the drain.||Running hard food wastes and items down the disposal.|
|Regular inspection is a must. Do this once every three weeks.||Egg shells, pasta, coffee grinds, fruit and vegetable peels, rice, paper, and plastic down there.|
|Use it regularly.||Bleach, grease, and oil are all thrown down the drain|
|Clean the interiors of the garbage disposal unit.||Running it even if you hear odd sounds and observable cracks.|
|Overcrowding the sink cabinet with cleaning materials and other items.|
|Always use it with running water and never overload.|
|Grind all food waste fully.|
|Eliminate all small food particles and other small items around the sink when you run it.|
For other items that should not be down there, click here for the list.
FAQs on Garbage Disposal
Aside from the abovementioned leak detection and basic troubleshooting when it comes to garbage disposals, there is also other useful information that you should master. Hence, here are some valuable FAQs about garbage disposals to guide you from choosing one to installing the unit in your sink.
Can I use the dishwasher if garbage disposal is leaking?
Technically yes, but advisably no. On one hand, you can still use the dishwasher even if the garbage disposal has leaking issues because the dirty water from the leak would not be sent to the dishwasher so you can still expect it to do its job.
However, once it is used, there would be more water sent down to the garbage disposal through the drain pipes so expect more leaks to come out of that.
Can you replace the seal on a garbage disposal?
Yes. It is actually one of the easiest parts of the garbage disposal to replace. Seals of the garbage disposal can be bought at any local hardware. They vary depending on the brand of your disposal. Special seals are also sometimes bought depending on the type of garbage disposal that you have.
What is the life expectancy of a garbage disposal?
The average lifespan of a garbage disposal is between 8-15 years. However, do not wait for this time frame before thinking of replacing it. Note that on the sixth year mark, issues will start appearing and down the line, replacement would be more economical than patching it up with countless repairs.
How do you know when your garbage disposal needs to be replaced?
Do not hold down in deciding to replace your garbage disposal once and for all if you have been experiencing one or more of the following issues while using your garbage disposal:
- Odd noises: It can range from unnoticeable whirring sounds to grinding metal but when abnormal noises start coming out from the disposal, it is time to replace it immediately. Thinking of re-aligning it would fix the issue for a few weeks, but you would hear it again eventually.
- Often resetting: If you find yourself resetting the disposal more often than how it should be, it is a clear indication of the need to replace it soon. The reason may range from frequent clogging to jams but we all know that disposals in good shape do not require tapping the reset button frequently.
- Frequent clogging: Clogging can be caused by food particle buildup down the drain as well as bad maintenance habits on your part. But in some instances, frequent clogging could be a sign that your home needs a disposal with higher capacities. This is enough reason for you to pick a new garbage disposal.
- Busted power: If in some instances, the garbage disposal shuts down in the middle of its run or just shuts off automatically, you should check the electric component of the disposal. When it becomes more rampant, note that it could be an indicator of a faulty motor. This is a point of no return for disposals, and it requires immediate replacement.
- Foul odor: A persistent foul odor coming off the disposal should be a cause of panic. It means that the device is no longer doing what it is supposed to do. Eliminating the odor is one thing, but permanently not having to smell it again means that you have to consider replacing your disposal soon.
- Poor performance: If grinding food wastes has taken longer than usual, it is already an indication of dwindling performance. Without replacement, you are submitting yourself to more costly repairs and we are not just talking about the disposal itself.
- Home renovation: Sometimes, the disposal is not at all failing but since you are going into a home renovation, everything should go and that includes your disposal.
- Water leaks: Need we say more?
Is it worth it to repair a garbage disposal?
If you are experiencing some of the issues that one could experience with a faulty, worn out or really old garbage disposal, then yes, a quick fix is worth the money. But in some more serious problems, repairs would not just seal the deal. For you to know which option to choose, it is best that you get a professional to assess the problem first before doing anything.
Do garbage disposals cause plumbing problems?
Sometimes, it does. On most days, disposals would not affect plumbing especially if used properly. However, when clogging becomes frequent, then yes, disposals could cause plumbing problems.
To keep this from happening, the disposal must be installed properly, at a proper alignment and must be matched with the right type of sink.
How can I unclog my jammed garbage disposal?
Clogged disposal is one of the major reasons for leaks. The bulk of food waste running down the drain has a direct effect on the condition of the disposal. Because clogging is a common occurrence, you must know how to unclog your disposal as a part of its regular maintenance:
- The first step is to learn the basic knowledge that you should never put your bare hands in the disposal.
- Next, find the trap. This is usually S or P shaped and is located beneath the disposal’s drain. It should easily disconnect if it is P-shaped. But in the event that it is not, you would need some pliers for it to be detached.
- Make sure that you have placed a bucket on the side, as well as towels for possible leaks. Remember that water would spill out after the pipes are disconnected.
- Move on to disconnecting the drain trap.
- Once it is removed, check for obstructions in the pipes. They are usually trapped or suspended along the sharper bends of the drainpipes.
- Remove the clogs using a wire brush. If they have hardened there, you need a more powerful tool to remove them. For this, consider a coat hanger.
- If you are done removing the clogs from the pipes, move for downstream clogs. They might be along the pipe piece that disappears with the wall. For this, you would specifically need an auger.
- The final part is to test everything by opening the faucet. Run it until no food particle is pushed down. After this, carefully reassemble the trap.
It is recommended that you do maintenance checks frequently. This requires you to inspect the interior of the disposal and to check for clogs if necessary.
Is it okay to use wd40 to lubricate the garbage disposal?
It is a common lubricant, yes, but it would damage the disposal because it is not just grease and crude oil that is there but there are also harmful chemicals in there. It is toxic and you would not want that substance near the kitchen, contaminating food stuff out there.
Water from the disposal is coming up
You should not panic when water from the disposal is coming up. This is a prime indicator of pipe jamming because of clogs caused by bigger food wastes in the pipe.
When this happens, it signifies two things: one, the grinder is no longer efficient in grinding larger food wastes into smaller particles and two, you have to do the dirty work and unclog the drain pipes.
While garbage disposals are not required, there are still a lot of reasons why you should install it by the kitchen sink. With its longevity, you should not panic about having to master everything that we have covered here immediately. But when the time comes, this guide should help you in navigating through stuff in mediating leaking garbage disposal.