If you’ve discovered your garbage disposal is leaking, don’t despair.
Usually, it just involves a simple fix. If you’re unsure if you have a garbage disposal leak, be proactive by checking key areas to minimize damage. Disposals usually leak from one of three locations: the top, at pipe connections, or at the bottom. With the aid of a flashlight, examine the area for condensation, puddling, and other signs of water accumulation on or under your unit.
While checking your garbage disposal, give special attention to these areas:
- The sink flange at the top of the disposal where the garbage disposal and top of the sink connect.
- The dishwasher hose connection at the side of the disposal.
- The drain line connection, also located at the disposal’s side. This is where the main drain pipe connects to the disposal with curved metal or PVC piping.
- The disposal’s reset button. Located beneath the disposal, it can deactivate if the unit jams or if the motor overloads.
Signs you have a leak
How can you tell if you have a garbage disposal leak? Leaks usually occur from the side or bottom of the unit. Obvious signs of a problem include puddling water, dampness, dripping, or a musty smell under your kitchen sink. Should you have any of these issues, you’ll want to ensure the garbage disposal is the issue versus the sink or the sink’s p-trap.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding your leak:
- Turn off the garbage disposal and unplug it completely.
- Next, fill the sink half-way with water. If you have food coloring, add it to the water to make the leak easier to find.
- Check for dripping or water accumulation around the top and bottom of the ring of the sink flange. Use your flashlight to look for the tinted water and feel for wetness.
- If this is not your issue, check the dishwasher hose connection. To do this, you’ll need to run the dishwasher. Start the dishwasher while the disposal is turned off. Watch the hose as water runs from the dishwasher drain through to the disposal, paying attention to the connections.
- Should this check out, move on to checking the drain line connection. Pay special attention to the screws that fasten the line to the disposal and the gap between the disposal and drain line.
- Finally, if all of the other issues are fine, examine the reset button, located in the center on the bottom of the disposal. Use your flashlight to look for a slow, constant drip or for water accumulation under the unit.
Fixes for your garbage disposal leak
Depending on where your leak is located, the cause and fix will be different.
The sink flange is held in place by the plumber’s putty and bolts. Should the putty deteriorate or if the bolts rust or loosen, the watertight seal between the flange and sink may break, leading to your leak. If this is the case, unscrew the bolts and check for rust and other deterioration and replace any you might find. Next, remove the flange, scrape off the old putty and reapply fresh putty. Turn the water back on and test the seal.
If the dishwasher hose is leaking:
It’s likely because the screws holding it in place have loosened. This can be from rust or usage over time. It’s also possible the drain hose or clamp is leaking. To fix this issue, use a screwdriver to tighten the screws on the metal clamp connecting the hose to the disposal. If the screws don’t seem to tighten well, replace them, same goes for the hose, replace it as needed.
If your leak is in the drain line:
Either the screws securing it to the disposal have worn out, or the rubber gasket inside the mounting assembly is leaking. Remove the screws, take down the drain line, and check the gasket inside for signs of wear and tear. You might also be able to fix this leak by tightening the connection between the pipe and disposal. Try to detach, then reattach, the pipe if tightening doesn’t work. If issues persist, move on to replacing the screws and gasket with the help of a pipe clamp and screwdriver.
Finally, if the reset button or any part of the bottom of the disposal is your issue, it probably means a seal inside the unit itself has worn out, which is a common occurrence with age. It may be in your best interest to simply replace the unit.
Still, need help?
Call us! Whether you have a weird leak you can’t get a handle on, or you just need to ask some questions, feel free to call Mike Diamond at 1-888-806-6879, or find us on Facebook! We’ve can handle any garbage disposal problem you can throw at us. Needing other plumbing repairs? We have a variety of services that can help you!