Like any other appliance, garbage disposals can occasionally experience issues, and one of the most common problems is leaking. In this article, we’ll explore the various causes of leaky garbage disposals, discuss practical fixes for each situation, and provide valuable tips on how to prevent leaks in the future.
Given below is a table listing the common leaking points on a garbage disposal, the cause of the leak, and how to fix it;
|Location of Leak||Cause of Leak||How to Fix|
|Bottom||Worn-out seals, rusted or damaged internal components, and cracks||Replace the garbage disposal|
|Top/Sink Flange||Loose or damaged mounting screws, worn out plumber’s putty or gasket||Tighten mounting screws, replace plumber’s putty or gasket|
|Dishwasher Hose||Loose or damaged hose clamp||Tighten or replace hose clamp|
|Drain Pipes||Loose or damaged connections, cracked or corroded pipes||Tighten connections, replace damaged or corroded pipes|
|Housing||Cracks or damage to the unit itself||Replace the garbage disposal unit|
|Reset Button||Worn-out seals, rusted or damaged internal components, and cracks||Replace the garbage disposal|
|Power Cord||Worn-out seals, rusted or damaged internal components, and cracks||Replace the garbage disposal|
Let’s see in detail how to fix the leaks from different parts of a garbage disposal.
Garbage disposal leaking from bottom
The motor of a garbage disposal is located below its grinding chamber. A water-tight seal separates the grinding chamber and the motor housing to prevent any water from the grinding chamber from damaging the motor and the electrical components there.
Due to wear and tear, this internal separation can get damaged, causing the water from the grinding chamber to drip through the motor compartment and exit through the bottom, perceived as the garbage disposal leaking from the bottom. The exit points of water, in this case, are the reset button, power cord, holes and screws at the bottom,
If we look at this more closely, the leaking from the bottom can be due to three reasons;
- Cracked or rusted housing: The housing, aka the bottom plate of the grinding chamber, is responsible for containing water and food waste as it’s processed. If this housing is cracked or rusted, it may cause water to leak out through the holes.
- Damaged or Worn-Out Seals: The water-tight seals running around the housing, between the walls of the disposal and the bottom plate, can come loose. This sealing also covers the axle from the motor to the garbage disposal blades. Deterioration of these seals will cause water to drip down through the bottom of the garbage disposal.
- Loose Internal Connections: If the internal components of the garbage disposal become loose or disconnected, they may cause water to leak out of the unit.
If your garbage disposal is leaking from the bottom, replacing it with a new unit is the only solution. You can attempt to repair the seals, but practically speaking, it is going to cost more than a new garbage disposal.
There are cases where people seal the bottom of the garbage disposal, which prevents the water from dripping to the floor; however, this is a dangerous idea. This will cause the leaking water to accumulate in the motor chamber, eventually leading to fire hazards.
Therefore, if the disposal is leaking from the bottom, make sure to replace it as soon as possible. I do not recommend using that garbage disposal any further due to the chances of hazards.
Tips to prevent leaks from the bottom
The wear and tear of the water-tight seals and the grinding chamber can be avoided by properly maintaining the garbage disposal to avoid rusting. Here are a few things you can do;
- Avoid adding chemicals to the garbage disposal: Putting chemicals into the garbage disposal, either for cleaning it or for other purposes, can deteriorate its water-tight seals and separations resulting in a leak.
- Regularly use the disposal: Using your garbage disposal frequently helps to keep the moving parts in motion, preventing food particles from building up and contributing to rust formation.
- Properly Dispose of Food Waste: Avoid putting hard, fibrous, or starchy materials in the garbage disposal, as they can stick to the unit’s interior or damage the blades. This damage can lead to rust formation over time. Examples of these materials include bones, fruit pits, coffee grounds, potato peels, and fibrous vegetables like celery.
- Clean the Disposal Regularly: Establish a routine to clean your garbage disposal once or twice a month. You can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean the unit. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes, then flush it down with hot water for about a minute. This process will help remove any buildup inside the unit, preventing rust.
Identification: Is the garbage disposal really leaking from the bottom?
It is also possible that the real origin of the water dripping may not be from the bottom of the garbage disposal. Maybe the leak is at the top, and the water runs along the disposal’s body to the bottom and drips down from there.
Given below are some of the other locations where a garbage disposal leaks, and the solutions to fix these leaks.
Leaking from top/flange
If your garbage disposal is leaking from the top, there could be several reasons behind it. The most common cause is an issue with the sink flange or the gasket that connects the garbage disposal to the sink drain.
Here are some potential reasons for the leak and how to address them:
Loose Sink Flange:
The sink flange is the metal ring that connects the garbage disposal to the sink drain. If the flange is loose, it can cause water to leak from the top of the disposal.
To fix this issue, try tightening the mounting screws or the retaining ring that holds the flange in place. If the leak persists, you may need to remove the garbage disposal and reseat the flange with plumber’s putty.
A rubber gasket is located between the sink flange and the garbage disposal to create a watertight seal. Over time, this gasket can wear out, become damaged, or lose its sealing capacity, causing water to leak from the top of the disposal.
In this case, you’ll need to replace the damaged gasket.To do this, remove the garbage disposal, take off the old gasket, clean the area thoroughly, and install a new gasket before reassembling the unit.
If your garbage disposal is newly installed or was recently serviced, it’s possible that the leak is due to improper installation. Check to ensure that all components are correctly aligned and tightened, and that the gasket is properly seated between the sink flange and the garbage disposal.
Cracked or Warped Sink Flange:
In rare cases, the sink flange itself may be cracked or warped, causing water to leak from the top of the garbage disposal. If you suspect this is the issue, you’ll need to remove the garbage disposal and replace the damaged sink flange.
To prevent leaks from the top of your garbage disposal, it’s crucial to ensure that all components are correctly installed, tightened, and well-maintained. If you’re unsure how to address a leak, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional plumber to assess the situation and make any necessary repairs.
Leaking from the side
If your garbage disposal is leaking from the side, it’s likely that the issue is related to the connections or hoses on the side of the unit.
Garbage disposals usually have two side connections: one for the dishwasher drain hose and one for the main drain pipe. Here are some potential reasons for the side leak and their respective solutions:
Leaking from dishwasher hose connection:
If the leak originates from the dishwasher hose connection, check the hose clamp for tightness. If the clamp is loose, tighten it with a screwdriver or pliers. Additionally, inspect the hose for cracks, wear, or damage. If the hose is damaged, you’ll need to replace it. Ensure the hose is firmly seated on the garbage disposal inlet and properly secured with the hose clamp.
Leaking from drain pipe connection:
If the leak is coming from the connection between the garbage disposal and the main drain pipe, inspect the slip nuts and other connections to ensure they are tight. Be cautious not to overtighten, as this may damage the connections or pipes. Also, check for damaged or worn gaskets or washers between the disposal and the drain pipe. If necessary, replace them to create a watertight seal.
In rare cases, the garbage disposal housing might be cracked, causing water to leak from the side. If this is the case, you’ll likely need to replace the entire garbage disposal unit, as repairing a cracked housing is usually not practical or cost-effective.
If your garbage disposal is newly installed or was recently serviced, the side leak might be due to improper installation. Make sure that all components are correctly aligned and tightened, and that the gaskets or washers are properly seated between the connections.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.