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Why Is My Garbage Disposal Leaking?

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The hardest working, and perhaps most-abused, appliance in your home is likely the garbage disposal. These small, versatile units are designed to grind up organic matter into fine particles that can be efficiently flushed down a common kitchen drain without causing plumbing problems. If you are asking, “Why is my garbage disposal leaking?”  — you have likely overworked this appliance over time. 

These appliances are not designed to handle many items and materials that are routinely crammed into them, such as: 

  • Potato peels
  • Egg shells
  • Pasta
  • Meat cuttings
  • Vegetable skins / scraps
  • Grease
  • Bones

When these or other tough materials are allowed into the garbage disposal, the cutting blades, motor, and other components are forced to handle a load for which they are not designed. If your garbage disposal is leaking, it is often a sign that wear and tear have taken a toll on the unit. However, any garbage disposal can begin leaking over time, just from prolonged normal use. 

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When your garbage disposal is leaking, Plymouth Plumbing & Heating can help. Our licensed and experienced plumbers have the tools and know-how to evaluate your garbage disposal unit and determine if it can be repaired or needs to be replaced. Call us when your garbage disposal is leaking for fast, efficient service. 

For the DIYers out there, there are some common reasons for a garbage disposal to be leaking. Some are simple fixes and some can get a bit more complex. We discuss the three areas your garbage disposal can be leaking from, and the likely cause, plus what is necessary to make repairs. 

IMPORTANT: For your safety, always disconnect the power to the garbage disposal before attempting any examination or repairs. 

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My Garbage Disposal is Leaking from the Top 

When your garbage disposal is leaking from the top, this means water and other material can seep around the joint where the disposal unit joins your sink. This can allow leaks into the cabinet or space underneath the sink and cause serious damage. When you notice wet items underneath the kitchen sink with an attached garbage disposal, this should be the first area you check. 

Likely Cause

Your garbage disposal connects to the kitchen sink with a flange and seal. The seal can erode and/or loosen with repeated use and exposure to water. Also, any hard blow to the disposal unit itself may cause the flange to become unsealed or the seal to become damaged. This can occur when doing other plumbing work under the sink or when placing or removing large items that are stored under the sink. 

Recommended Repair

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Your garbage disposal flange is likely sealed to the sink with plumber’s putty. Some also use a flange that is held in place with screws. 

  1. Unplug the unit from the electrical socket for safety. 
  2. Remove any items that can obstruct your workspace and lay down towels to absorb any residual water. 
  3. Loosen the pipe clamp that connects the pipe to your sink/garbage disposal. 
  4. Loosen the pipe clamp at the other end of this pipe. 
  5. Remove this section of pipe. 
  6. Loosen screws holding the garbage disposal flange to the sink and remove the flange. 
  7. Remove old plumber’s putty from the flange and the sink. 
  8. Replace a worn or bent flange. 
  9. Reapply new plumber’s putty to the flange. 
  10. Reinstall the flange and tighten screws. 
  11. Reattach section of pipe and tighten clamps. 
  12. Run water for several minutes to be sure the joint no longer leaks. 
  13. Reconnect power to the garbage disposal. 

Because this repair involves removing some piping, you may want to leave this chore to a plumbing professional. Call Plymouth Plumbing & Heating for fast and reliable service when your garbage disposal is leaking from the top. 

My Garbage Disposal is Leaking from the Side

When your garbage disposal is leaking from the side, this means the leak is coming from somewhere below the flange that connects the unit to the sink, and most likely from either or both of the unit’s drain lines. The smaller line at the side is where a dishwasher can connect to the unit. This enables water to enter the sink drain from the dishwasher. The second, larger drain line is the main sink drain that allows water and material to drain from the sink and garbage disposal. 

Likely Cause 

If your garbage disposal is leaking from the side, it is likely the dishwasher drain tube. This tube may become worn over time and begin leaking, but any leaks will likely come from the joint where the line meets the disposal unit. This joint can become worn or the rubber gasket inside can become eroded or broken. The main drain line can also begin leaking from worn seals. 

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Recommended Repair 

  1. Disconnect the power to the garbage disposal. 
  2. Begin by tightening the clamp on the dishwasher drain line to see if this stops the leak. 
  3. If not, clear away any items from your workspace and lay down towels to absorb any residual water. 
  4. Loosen the clamp on the dishwasher drain line where it connects to the garbage disposal unit. 
  5. Disconnect the drain line. 
  6. Replace the rubber gasket inside the joint. 
  7. Reconnect the dishwasher drain line and clamp. 
  8. Tighten clamp. 
  9. Run water for several minutes to check for leaks. 
  10. Reconnect the power to the garbage disposal unit. 

If the main drain line from the garbage disposal is leaking, follow these steps: 

  1. Disconnect the power to the garbage disposal. 
  2. Loosen the pipe clamp that holds the main drain line to the garbage disposal. 
  3. Remove this clamp and the drain line. This may also involve loosening the other end of the line, depending on your type of drain line. 
  4. Replace the gasket/seal in this line. 
  5. Replace the drain line and clamp. 
  6. Tighten clamp and other end of the pipe if necessary. 
  7. Run water for several minutes to check for leaks. 
  8. Reconnect power to the garbage disposal. 

My Garbage Disposal is Leaking from the Bottom

Most garbage disposal units do not have lines that connect to the bottom. If your garbage disposal is leaking from the bottom, the likely culprit is the internal seals inside the disposal unit. These internal seals can wear out with use over time. In most models, these seals cannot be replaced. This warrants replacing your garbage disposal unit. 

A good garbage disposal unit of the appropriate size should last from 5 to 10 years with normal use. Many Wisconsin families enjoy many more years from their garbage disposal by not putting anything damaging into it, like the items listed earlier in this article. 

Plymouth Plumbing & Heating carries Insinkerator Brand Garbage Disposals. Insikerator is the only garbage disposal that is Made in the USA from 80% domestic products. Our plumbing professionals are happy to recommend a model that meets your needs and configuration for replacement, as well as performing fast, quality replacement services

Call Plymouth Plumbing & Heating for professional repair service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call us now to ask for assistance when your garbage disposal is leaking, jammed, making odd noises, or for other plumbing problems. 

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