What to Do about a Leaking Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal under your sink is a fantastic appliance that helps make clean up in the kitchen so much easier. However, what happens if you have a leaking garbage disposal? Naturally, you'll need to fix it: otherwise you'll end up with developing mold under your sink, not to mention the need to deal with water dripping out of the disposal. There are a few ways to go about fixing the disposal, although it all comes down to where the leak is. Wherever the leak may be, you do have options.

A Leaking Garbage Disposal - What Are Your Options?

Garbage Disposal

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When it comes to a leaking garbage disposal the one option, you don't have is to just let it be. Letting it be will result in the leak becoming larger. It will leak more water, and as the area under your sink is warm and dark, it is the perfect place for the development of mold.

Repair the Leak

leaking pipe

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Depending on where the garbage disposal is leaking, you may be able to fix it yourself. We'll get into this in the next section, but oftentimes a leaking garbage disposal is not an actual leaking disposal. It is often a problem with a seal for one of the water's exit or entrance points. When this is the case, it is easy to repair the leak. This is also the least expensive option and something even a novice plumber with no real experience can handle.

Replacing the Garbage Disposal

New garbage disposal

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In certain instances it will be easier (and less time consuming) to replace the garbage disposal. Depending on where the leak is, the garbage disposal might be shot; which means you'll need to replace it. Replacing your leaking garbage disposal isn't much of a challenge, and even if you have never done any real plumbing before you may be able to do it on your own. However, if you'd feel comfortable with a professional replacing the leaking garbage disposal, you can call in a plumber. It will be more expensive than doing it yourself, but at least you'll know it's been done correctly the first time (and in less time).

Bring In a Professional

man fixing pipe leakage

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If you're not sure where the leak is, or if you'd just rather turn it over to a pro, you can bring in a professional to handle the leaking garbage disposal. Now, this is going to be more expensive, but if you have the money and don't mind paying someone else for a job you likely could do yourself, by all means bring in someone who is experienced with the process. It will be less time consuming, although you will need to wait on the plumber to come to your home. It isn't an emergency situation, so it might take a few days to get someone there.

Can Fix It Yourself?

The short answer to this is yes, you can fix a leaking garbage disposal yourself. To determine just how involved the fix will be, you will need to identify where the leak is. This will help you know what you need to do.

Wipe It Down and Run the Sink

First, wipe down the entire underside of the garbage disposal. This includes the bottom of the disposal all the way up to where it connects with the sink. Now, run the sink. You may want to have a flashlight under the sink while you monitor it. You need to find the top most point where the water is at.

Determining the Leak Location

Bad Sink Seal

Seal

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If the water is located at the top of the sink, it means you have a bad seal between the disposal and the sink. This is easy enough to repair as you'll just need to remove the disposal and replace the seal. Once you have the garbage disposal out this repair will only take a few minutes.

Bad Gasket

Gasket

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Now, feel further down around the disposal. If the leak is coming either where the dish washer connects with the sink or where the disposal leads to the water out-line, it means you likely have a damaged gasket inside of the disposal on either end. These are easy to repair. In fact, it only costs a few bucks to swap out the old gaskets and to insert a new one. 

You may want to pick up new metal clamps (or whatever other kind of clamp is used on your disposal with the two connectors). By removing and replacing everything you'll have it back up and running. Best of all, with this method, you won't even need to take the disposal apart off the sink.

Bad Disposal

Old disposal

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If the leak is at the bottom of the disposal, you have a bit of a larger problem. It means there is an issue with one of the seals within the disposal. The problem is that there are usually multiple seals, and you won't know which one is which. If you wanted to replace the seals, you'd need to remove the disposal, take it apart, then test each seal one at a time. This is not only time consuming, but in the long run it'll be less expensive (and less frustrating) to just replace the disposal itself.

Replacing the disposal isn't all that difficult. You already have it removed, which means putting in a new disposal is basically like putting the old one back in place. However, you should replace the seal while you're at it. The job isn't hard, and even if you haven't don't it before this is a great opportunity to perform your own home plumbing. Plus, you'll learn how the disposal goes together, so if you ever have problems in the future you'll be able to get down under the sink and easily correct everything.

Do You Need to Call a Pro?

Plumber

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Realistically, you don't need to call a professional when it comes to a leaking garbage disposal. That doesn't mean you shouldn't though. There's a difference between needing to call a professional and rather calling a professional (you don't really need to take your car in to have the oil changed as you can do that yourself, it's just sometimes easier to have someone else does it for you).

Before You Call a Pro

There are plenty of people who would rather bring in a professional. There's nothing wrong with that. They'll do a great job and correct the problem. It will cost more but when you want peace of mind by all means go ahead and do it.

However, before you call a pro, just go under the disposal and determine where the leak is at. If there's a problem with the seal where the disposal connects with the sink, and you don't want to deal with taking the disposal apart, by all means bring in a pro. Likewise, if the bottom of the disposal is wet, it means you'll need to have it replaced again, so go ahead and give your local plumbing professional a call.

But, if you find the leak is with either the water line running in from the dish washer or with the exit line, this is something you can deal with on your own without worrying and by only spending a few dollars. It really is worth trying to do this one on your own. Replacing the rubber gasket and the metal clamps doesn't take much time and will cost likely no more than $10.

If it doesn't work and you still have a leak, then you can call the professional and have them come in to fix the leaking garbage disposal. However, if it does work, and you were able to do it yourself, it means you not only were able to fix your disposal by spending just a few dollars, but it also means you learned something new. Now you'll have more confidence with yourself and, who knows; maybe the next time the garbage disposal leaks (or when there's another problem all together), you'll decide to try to fix it yourself.

Research the Plumbers

Plumber

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If you call a plumber, just make sure to do a little research so you know who you're calling. Look up reviews online and check out what other's have said about them. This way, at least you know for certain you're bringing in a top of the line plumbing professional. If you're going to pay for the service, you might as well know you're getting a qualified plumber.

Conclusion

If you have a leaking garbage disposal, you need to take care of it right away. Failure to do so will leave you with a growing water spot under the sink, possibly an odd smell, and the development of mold, which is a much more serious problem.

Depending on the location of the leak you may need to replace the garbage disposal. You can also go about fixing the problem yourself or relying on a professional for the leaking garbage disposal. Whatever you decide to do, it's best to act quickly so the problem doesn't spread.

Justin Curtis
 

I am not a professional plumber, but I do feel like I am pretty handy :). I would love to hear your comments about this post or others. Thanks for reading!

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