The garbage disposal is one of the most overused appliances in any home.
While this piece of versatile technology is designed to grind most organic matter into small flushable particles, people often cram inappropriate items and materials into it without a second thought.
A few common examples include pasta, paper towels, vegetable skin, bones, potato peels, eggshells, and grease. These materials can affect the overall functionality of your garbage disposal, causing dysfunctions such as clogs and leaks.
Most people don’t find out their garbage disposal is leaking until they’re confronted with a sopping kitchen cabinet and a foul-smelling pool on the floor. Getting regular plumbing maintenance is essential if you want to avoid the same fate.
Unfortunately, there will be times when even regular maintenance won’t do the trick. You need to be prepared to tackle a leaking disposal unit when it happens.
If your garbage disposal is leaking, this article will walk you through the different reasons why garbage disposal leaks happen and provide solutions for each situation.
Why is my garbage disposal leaking from the top?
If the top of your garbage disposal is leaking, this means that water from your sink drain is escaping through the joint where it connects to your garbage disposal unit. When this happens, the area underneath your sink can get wet and cause water damage to items in its surroundings.
If you notice items or areas under your sink that are wet, it’s a strong indicator that your disposal unit has a leak. Contact a professional to check out the situation immediately.
Causes of a leaking garbage disposal
A sink flange connects your disposal unit to your sink drain. Over time, the internal seal that holds the two parts together can loosen or erode due to prolonged exposure to water. As a result, water can now seep through the connection between your sink and disposal unit.
Another possible reason for your garbage disposal leaking is if it was hit with a hard blow, which can damage the internal seals of the sink flange, causing it to leak. This can happen when homeowners perform DIY plumbing work or when removing/storing large items under the sink.
What to do if your garbage disposal is leaking from the top?
Your disposal unit is connected to your sink with screws and some plumber’s putty. If your garbage disposal is leaking from the top, you can perform the following steps to fix it:
- Unplug the disposal unit from its main power supply
- Remove items under your sink that may block your work
- Lay out towels on the area below the sink to sop up residual water
- Locate the metal clamp connecting the kitchen sink and garbage disposal
- Loosen the metal clamp on both ends of the section pipe
- Remove the pipe and check it for any visible cracks before placing it on the side
- Using your screwdriver, loosen the screws on the sink flange
- Remove the existing putty from the flange
- Apply a new layer of plumber’s putty to the flange and wait for it to set
- Reinstall the flange to the sink
- Tighten the flange screws in the appropriate placements
- Reattach the pipe between the sink and the disposal unit
- Tighten the metal clamps on either end of the pipe
Run the water and check if your garbage disposal is still leaking. If not, you may reconnect your garbage disposal to its main power supply. You can continue using your garbage disposal after this.
Avoid cramming vegetable skin, bones, and other inappropriate materials into the unit.
Where to get plumber’s putty?
Plumber’s putty is a clay-like sealant that creates watertight seals around drain lines. You can use it on faucets, sinks, showers, and pop-up drains to prevent them from leaking water.
You can buy plumber’s putty from your local hardware store. You may also find it online.
Why is my garbage disposal leaking from the bottom?
In some cases, a leak can develop at the bottom half of the garbage disposal.
If your garbage disposal is leaking from the bottom, the typical culprit is the internal seals of your garbage disposal system. Over time, these internal seals can lose their integrity, resulting in a garbage disposal leak.
Replacing the seals inside your disposal unit is one of the ways you can solve the issue. Unfortunately, some garbage disposal units don’t come with replaceable seals. In that case, you’ll have to replace your entire unit with a new one.
How long should garbage disposals last?
A home garbage disposal lasts anywhere between five to 10 years — depending on usage. Regular maintenance can help extend the longevity of your garbage disposal. Contact a local plumbing professional to take care of regular maintenance and cleaning.
Why is my garbage disposal leaking from the side?
Sometimes, a garbage disposal leak doesn’t develop on the top or bottom part of the unit, but on the sides. When that happens, this may mean the bottom part of the main drain line that connects the flange to the garbage disposal has eroded or loosened.
It could also mean the dishwasher drain pipe connected to your waste disposal unit has a leak.
Most garbage disposals have two drain lines: one connecting to the kitchen sink and the other to the dishwasher. Parts of these drain lines can lose integrity over time, reducing their ability to keep water in the drain pipe.
Cause of leaking from the side
Garbage disposals have a rubber gasket inside the joints connecting them to the main and dishwasher drain line. This rubber seal can become worn over time and cause leaking. The likely culprit is prolonged exposure to water or natural wear and tear.
What to do if your garbage disposal is leaking from the side?
If your garbage disposal is leaking from the side, the best way to fix it is to replace the rubber gasket located inside the garbage disposer.
If the leak is coming from your dishwasher hose, here are the steps to fix it:
- Unplug your garbage disposal from its main power supply
- Tighten the clamp on the drain line connected to the dishwasher
- Run the dishwasher to see if this stops the leaking
- If it doesn’t, the next step is to clear out the items from under your sink
- Wipe the floor with paper towels or a clean cloth
- Remove the damp cloth and place it on the side for later
- Loosen the clamps on the dishwasher disposal line to the garbage disposal
- Remove the drain line and check the gasket sits flat inside the joint
- If the internal seal is broken, replace it with a new one
- Reconnect the dishwasher disposal line to the garbage disposal
- Tighten the clamp around the pipe to fasten it to the disposal system
- Run the dishwasher again to see if it still leaks water
Meanwhile, if the issue is with the main drain line, these are the steps you want to take:
- Disconnect the garbage disposal from its main power source
- Loosen the clamps that hold the main drain line to the sink and garbage disposal flange
- Remove the drain line
- Make sure the gasket is flat or replace it if it’s broken
- Replace the drain line and tighten the clamps on both ends
- Leave the faucet running for a few minutes
- Check under your sink if wet spots have started to form on the floor
If not, you can plug your garbage disposal back into its main power line.
Where to get a rubber gasket?
Rubber gaskets or rubber seals are used to make two hard and flat surfaces completely air-tight or water-tight. Since drain pipes are flat, a gasket is often necessary to make sure its connection with another pipe is solid.
Gaskets can be bought at any local hardware store.
Prevent Garbage Disposal Leaks from Plaguing Your Home
A leaky garbage disposal unit can be an ugly nuisance to homeowners. If left alone, a garbage disposal leak can result in serious water damage and bad smells. While some people can handle doing DIY home improvement projects, others may need the assistance and expertise of professional plumbers.
Professional plumbers can handle all sorts of plumbing problems plaguing your home. Whether it’s replacing an old garbage disposal or fixing an annoying leak, a professional can help you identify the likely culprit of your issue and provide you with cost-effective solutions that can save you hundreds of dollars down the road.
Affordable and Efficient Services from MAC 5 Plumbing
Here at Mac 5 Services, we strive to provide our customers with the highest quality of plumbing services available. All our employees are trained in the latest techniques and methodologies to ensure that their work meets current industry standards and trends. Check out our list of services and find out which solution suits you best.
Our professionals are efficient in everything from professional leak detection to water line installation services. If you wish to address your garbage disposal leaking issues, our experts will be more than happy to give you a hand.
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