Is My Garbage Disposal Leaking?

Garbage disposal leaking from reset button

Garbage disposals usually leak from three places: the top, the pipe connections, and the bottom. To find out if your disposal is leaking, check each common place where leaks start. Use a flashlight to check for condensation, puddling, and other signs of water accumulation on or beneath your disposal.

Each common garbage disposal leak happens for a different reason. Usually, a minor component is simply too loose or it’s worn out. By finding where your garbage disposal is leaking, you’ll be able figure out why it’s leaking and how you can fix it. Here’s everything you need to know to fix your garbage disposal’s leak quickly and accurately.

Where is my garbage disposal leaking from?

Garbage disposals commonly leak from four different places:

  1. The sink flange at the top of the garbage disposal. This connects the disposal to the top of the sink.
  2. The dishwasher hose connection on the side of the disposal. This is where the flexible plastic dishwasher hose connects to the disposal.
  3. The drain line connection, also located on the side of the disposal. This is where the main drain pipe connects to the disposal via curving metal or PVC plastic pipes.
  4. The reset button on the bottom of the disposal. This button deactivates the disposal if it jams or the motor overloads.

How can I tell if my garbage disposal is leaking?

Garbage disposal leaking from either the side or bottom

First, look for the obvious signs. Check under your kitchen sink for puddling water, dampness, dripping, or a musty smell. If you see any signs of leaking, check to make sure it isn’t the sink itself or the sink’s p-trap. Then, grab a flashlight and bucket to look for each common garbage disposal leak.

Turn off the garbage disposal and unplug it completely. Then, fill up the sink with water about halfway. If you have food coloring, add it to the water to make the leak easier to spot. You can locate the leak in the following ways:

  1. The sink flange: Check for dripping or water accumulation around the top and bottom of the ring of the flange. Use the flashlight to look for water coloring and feel for wetness by hand.
  2. The dishwasher hose connection: To properly look for this leak, you’ll have to run your dishwasher. Start the dishwasher without turning back on the disposal. Watch the hose as water runs from the dishwasher drain through it into the disposal. Pay particular attention to the connections between the hose and disposal.
  3. The drain line connection: Check the connection between the drain line and disposal. Pay particular attention to the screws that fasten the line to the disposal and to the gap between the disposal and drain line.
  4. The reset button: The reset button is in the center of the bottom of the disposal unit. Shine the flashlight under the disposal to look for it. Check for a slow, constant dripping or water accumulation beneath the unit.

Why is my garbage disposal leaking?

Each of the four common leaks outlined so far have different causes and fixes. Here’s where your leak is coming from and what caused it:

  1. The sink flange: The sink flange is held in place by plumber’s putty and bolts. If the putty deteriorates or the bolts rust or loosen, the watertight seal between the flange and sink may break, leading to your leak.
  2. The dishwasher hose connection: If the dishwasher hose is leaking, it’s usually because the screws holding it to the disposal have loosened. This can happen because of rust or simply as a result of time and jostling. It’s also possible the drain hose or clamp are leaking.
  3. The drain line connection: If the drain line is leaking, then either the screws securing to the disposal have worn out, or the rubber gasket inside the mounting assembly itself is leaking. Remove the screws, take down the drain line, and check the gasket inside for signs of wear and tear.
  4. The reset button: If your garbage disposal is leaking from either the reset button or any other part of the bottom of the disposal, then it probably means a seal inside the unit itself has worn out. This can happen when a garbage disposal gets old.

How to Fix a Leaking Garbage Disposal

Repairing a garbage disposal

Now that you’ve identified the where and why, you’re prepared to fix the actual problem. Luckily, fixing a leaking garbage disposal is usually pretty straightforward–even if the fix isn’t always what you’d like to hear:

  1. The sink flange: Unscrew the bolts and check for rust or other deterioration, and replace them if you find any. Then, remove the flange, scrap off the putty holding it in place, and reapply fresh putty. Turn back on the water to test the seal.
  2. The dishwasher hose connection: First, try using a screwdriver to tighten the screws on the metal clamp connecting the hose to the disposal. If the screws don’t seem to tighten properly, consider replacing them. It’s also possible the hose itself is leaking, in which case you’ll have to replace it.
  3. The drain line connection: You may be able to fix this leak by tightening the connection between the pipe and disposal. Try un-attaching and reattaching the pipe if tightening doesn’t work. If you’re still having issues, try replacing the screws or gasket. You could also use a pipe clamp and tighten with a screwdriver.
  4. The reset button: Unfortunately, if your garbage disposal leaks from the bottom, then it’s probably simply time to remove the garbage disposal and replace it. If one internal seal is worn out, after all, then the rest are probably getting there too.

 

By following the directions above, you should be able to identify and fix just about any garbage disposal leak you’re dealing with. Of course, “should be able to” doesn’t necessarily mean will be able to. Sometimes unusual leaks happen. These leaks can be tough to figure out, much less fix!

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