Is Your Garbage Disposal Leaking?

If you notice water under your kitchen sink, then there’s a great possibility that your garbage disposal is leaking. There’s a variety of issues that can cause a leak. The reason could be a drain issue, an improper flange seal, or simply the unit itself. However, if your garbage disposal is leaking from the bottom part, then your options are limited.

Plumbing problems can be a drag, and a leaking garbage disposal can be inconvenient. So before you contact a plumbing professional, let’s do some quick checks to determine if your unit can be repaired, and to help you find the best solution.

The main question is: Where can a garbage disposal unit develop leaks?

Generally, there are 3 common areas where the garbage disposal will leak: the top, bottom, or side. Where the leak originates is an excellent indication of the severity of the problem. Most of the time, the required repairs aren’t with your garbage disposal itself, but rather the surrounding plumbing.

Why Is My Garbage Disposal Unit Leaking From the Bottom?

If you think that it’s leaking from the bottom part, then you might need to replace your garbage disposal. Before jumping to any conclusions, make sure that the leak is really coming from the bottom.

Since water travels, it’s possible that your disposal unit is actually leaking from the flange or drain plumbing or dishwasher, and is only dripping from its bottom. Take a paper towel and dry off the garbage disposal and then observe closely where the water is leaking.

Can I fix a garbage disposal that’s leaking from the bottom?

When you have this problem, you’ll have limited options. Bear in mind that water and electricity don’t mix, so you have to get it repaired immediately.

The only solution is to buy a new disposal unit. Typically, a new disposal unit lasts between 8 to 15 years, depending on the quality and the amount of use.

How Do I Deal With a Garbage Disposal Leaking From the Top?

See if the sealant on the sink flange needs repairs

If your disposal unit is leaking from the top, then the issue may not be the appliance at all. It may be caused by the sink flange which is connected to the mounting ring of the garbage disposal.

The flange is the visible component that surrounds the drain hole in the center of the sink. Flanges are usually sealed with a clay-like sealant (plumber’s putty) to prevent leakage. There are also some disposal units that use screws to secure the flange in place.

The sealant can deteriorate over time, (or screws may loosen) and the sink flange is no longer able to make a water-tight seal. This can also be caused by other plumbing repairs being done under the sink, as the disposal unit may be dislodged or hit enough to damage the seal.

Plumbing repairs may also cause a garbage disposal unit to leak from a side pipe, as homeowners sometimes neglect to disconnect the dishwasher’s drain plumbing attached to the disposal before removing their dishwasher for repair.

How do I repair a sink flange that’s leaking?

Though fixing this issue isn’t hard in theory, it can be a huge job, especially if you’re not used to working with plumbing. You’ll have to remove the disposal unit and re-seal the sink flange using a plumber’s putty. It may sound easy, but hiring a plumbing expert is the option many homeowners choose. It may sound easy, but hiring a plumbing expert is the option many homeowners choose.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Loosen the screw that’s connecting the main drain pipe to the disposal unit; then loosen the metal clamp that attaches the dishwasher hose to the garbage disposal.
  • Dislodge the drain pipe and dishwasher hose from the disposal.
  • Loosen the mounting ring screws. Next, gently remove the disposal unit and place it on a dry surface.
  • Loosen the bolts of the mounting assembly and remove them too. Lift and remove the sink flange from your sink. You can use your putty knife for this.
  • Using the putty knife, remove the old plumber’s putty from your flange and clean the area with a damp cloth.
  • Form a roll of plumber’s putty between your hands. It should be between 1/8th to 1/4 of an inch wide and long enough to cover your sink flange. Wrap the “putty roll” around the flange’s top and place it into the drain opening. Slowly push until it’s snug.
  • Follow all the steps above, in reverse order, to install your mounting assembly and mounting ring. Install your disposal unit, dishwasher hose, and drain pipe as well.

How Do I Address a Garbage Disposal Leaking From the Side?

Check the main drain and dishwasher

Is your garbage disposal leaking from the side hole? Generally, the problem is either the main drain line or the dishwasher. In most cases, this is relatively an easy repair that you can do yourself without the help of a plumber.

You can see 2 drain lines that connect to the disposal: the dishwasher drain, and the main drain line. The smaller drain connects the dishwasher drain pipe to the disposal unit’s dishwasher inlet, and the bigger drain runs through your wall and connects your appliance to the sewer.

Take note that not all garbage disposals use the dishwasher drain. If you don’t own a dishwasher, then you won’t have to worry about this and you can just focus on your main drain line.

What do I do when the garbage disposal leaks from the side?

If you own a screwdriver, then you can try repairing the leak yourself first before calling a plumber.

Since the small hose is attached to the dishwasher drain, the leak is most likely caused by a loose metal clamp and water is dripping down the side of your unit. Get a screwdriver and tighten the screw on the metal clamp. This secures the hose and usually stops the leak.

However, if the dishwasher still leaks, then the problem may be a cracked or warped hose fitting. In this situation, you’ll need to replace the hose.

You can stop the leak on your main drain line hose by tightening the metal plate’s screws that connect the hose to your unit. If that doesn’t fix the problem, then it could be the gasket.

Behind the metal plate of your drain hose is the rubber gasket. You have to remove the screws on the metal plate to dislodge the drain hose, then replace the rubber gasket with a brand new one. This should solve the leaking problem.

How Do I Know If I Need to Replace My Garbage Disposal Unit?

Know if you need repairs or a replacement

It doesn’t matter whether your unit is leaking from holes screws on the bottom, or the reset button, the issue is the same. You have a huge problem that most likely requires a brand new garbage disposal.

A damaged internal seal within your unit is the most common cause. Garbage disposals use internal seals to prevent the appliance from leaking and/ or protect the motor. As time goes by, these seals wear out and are no longer effective.

Another possible reason is when there’s a crack in the protective shell case that surrounds your garbage disposal. Nevertheless, whether your garbage disposal is leaking due to the case or an internal seal, you’ll have to buy a new unit.

There are some problems that only a plumber can fix

A leaking disposal unit can be highly stressful and inconvenient. If you have plumbing issues that you can’t handle yourself, then it’s best to call a plumbing professional.

Contact Plumbing Authority Inc. when you need help with your plumbing. We provide a wide array of plumbing services to give you assistance when you need it. Call us now at (647) 992-7473 and we’ll gladly help you.