Home » Guides » How To Remove Garbage Disposal And Replace With Drain Pipe

How To Remove Garbage Disposal And Replace With Drain Pipe

A garbage disposal is not mandatory in a kitchen, and many people prefer not to use it. You can even run into clogging issues and leaks if the garbage disposal is not installed correctly. In case you plan to replace your garbage disposal permanently with a regular sink drain, here is how to do it;

Things you will need;

  • Plumber’s putty
  • Sink strainer
  • 1.5 inch PVC pipes and an elbow
  • Screwdriver: Slotted and Phillips
  • Channel-lock plier
  • Sink strainer tool or a needle nose plier
  • Sink strainer tailpipe

Step 1: Unplug the garbage disposal

The first step to safely removing a garbage disposal is disconnecting it from the power source. You don’t want to be electrocuted when you are working on it, do you? If your garbage disposal is installed using a power cord, you can simply unplug it from the power socket; that is easy. But if the garbage disposal is hard wired to the mains, you will have to spend some time disconnecting it.

If your garbage disposal is hardwired to the mains, first turn off the circuit breaker to the garbage disposal. This will prevent any accidental electrocutions. Then use a voltage tester and make sure that there is no electricity in the wires. Then use a lineman’s plier to cut the wire! I know this is a non-conventional approach, and it is not neat, but it serves the purpose. You are not going to use the disposal anymore, so I don’t see any downsides in doing this. Cut it at the bottom of the garbage disposal, so the wire remains in full length for any future applications. You should properly insulate the ends of these wires after this to prevent any future hazards.

disconnecting electrical wires from garbage disposal
disconnecting electrical wires

The right approach is to disconnect the hardwired connection from the bottom of the garbage disposal. But you can do this only after dismounting the garbage disposal from the sink drain. To properly disconnect the hardwired connection, first unscrew the cover plate that covers the wire. Then remove the two wire nut connectors and separate the wires of the garbage disposal and the powerline. You will also need to unscrew and disconnect the neutral wire. Once this is done, loosen the screws on the Romex connector and free the wires from the garbage disposal.

Once the garbage disposal is disconnected from its power source, go to the next step;

Step 2: Disconnect the discharge tube and dishwasher connection

The next step is to disconnect the discharge tube and dishwasher connection (if you have one) from the garbage disposal.

The dishwasher connection is used to connect a dishwasher to a garbage disposal. It is a 1/2 inch extension located on the same side of the disposal’s drain connection but just above it. If you see a dishwasher hose connected to it, remove it. The connection is usually made with the help of a hose clamp. First, remove the hose clamp using pliers or a screwdriver if the clamp has a screw drive. Then twist the hose off the connection.

If your kitchen sink has a double sink, then the garbage disposal is connected via a discharge tube and a Tee to the drain pipe from the main sink. If it is a single sink, the drain connection is made using an elbow. In both cases, the connection is made with the help of a tailpipe flange, flange screw, and a gasket.

Disconnecting drain pipe from garbage disposal
Disconnecting drain pipe from garbage disposal

To disconnect a garbage disposal from the drain pipes, remove the screws on its tailpipe flange. Once the screws are removed, gently move the garbage disposal away from the drain pipe and remove the tailpipe flange, thus disconnecting it from the drain pipes.

Step 3: Disconnect the garbage disposal from the sink

Once the electrical wires and the drain pipes are disconnected, it is time to unmount the garbage disposal from the kitchen sink.

Dismount garbage disposal from the sink
Dismounting a garbage disposal from sink

A garbage disposal is mounted on a sink using a mounting assembly. This mounting assembly can be either a 3-bolt or an EZ-mount type assembly, depending on your garbage disposal brand and model. A 3-bolt assembly basically uses three bolts and a snap ring to keep the garbage disposal mounted, whereas an EZ-mount assembly uses a mount ring and a cushion ring made of rubber. Both these mounting assemblies use a twist and lock mechanism making the dismounting process easier.

If your garbage disposal uses a 3-bolt assembly, you can disconnect it by loosening the clamping ring by twisting it anti-clockwise with the help of a screwdriver. If it is an EZ-mount, you can twist the mounting ring with your hand in the anti-clockwise direction. Give the garbage disposal a little push from the bottom and support it with one hand to make the disconnection easier and prevent it from falling.

Remove the disconnected garbage disposal from under the countertop to make more room for the upcoming steps.

Step 4: Remove the sink flange from the sink

All garbage disposals come with a sink flange. You have to remove this sink flange and use a sink strainer to connect the sink directly to the pipes.

Remove sink flange from the sink
Remove a 3-bolt sink flange from the sink

Even though you removed the garbage disposal from the sink, its mounting assembly is still attached to the sink flange. To disconnect the sink flange, you have to first remove this mounting assembly.

Like I said before, a 3-bolt mount uses a snap ring to hold the disposal in position. To remove a 3-bolt mounting assembly, first, loosen the three bolts on it. Once the bolts are loose, you will see the snap ring. Removing this snap ring won’t be that easy as it is usually really tight to keep the disposal firmly to the sink. Insert the flathead of a screwdriver and pop the snap ring off. Once the snap ring is removed, remove the 3-bolt assembly’s mounting flanges and take out the sink flange from the sink. (Parts of 3-bolt mount)

If your garbage disposal uses an EZ mounting assembly, it has a rubber cushion ring instead of the metal snap ring used in 3-bolt assemblies. Once the garbage disposal is disconnected, raise the mounting ring of the EZ-mount towards the sink flange. Remove the cushion ring by using a flathead screwdriver. Once the cushion ring is removed, the mounting ring will come loose. Then unscrew the Support ring and the gasket, and finally remove the sink flange. (Parts of EZ mount)

And, that is how you disconnect a garbage disposal from the plumbing.

Now that the garbage disposal is out of the way, it is time to install drain pipes. The first step to doing this is installing a basket strainer.

Step 4: Install a sink basket strainer

A basket strainer replaces the sink flange of the garbage disposal. There are many make and models of sink basket strainers. They are all made to a standard size to fit a standard sink but ensure that the one you buy will fit your sink by checking its dimensions from the manufacturer’s specification sheet.

To install the sink strainer, first clean the sink of any plumber’s putty or sealants left by the garbage disposal. Make sure that the sink is clean and dry.

sink strainer basket installation
sink strainer basket installation

Then, take the basket strainer and put a 1/2 inch thick rope of plumbers putty underneath its flange. Insert the strainer into the sinkhole and press it tightly.

A sink strainer is fitted to the sink using a lock nut. It also comes with a rubber and a cardboard gaskets. So, get underneath the sink and put the gaskets in place as per its installation manual. Then tighten the lock nut using your hands until it touches the gaskets.

Once the lock nut is somewhat tight, use a sink strainer tool or a channel-lock plier to tighten it. You will also need an assistant’s help to hold the sink strainer from the top to prevent it from spinning while tightening the lock nut. You can use an installer tool or a needle nose plier to hold it in place.

Once this is done, wipe off the excess plumber’s putty in the sink.

Installing a sink basket

Once the sink strainer is installed, connect a tailpipe to it. The tailpipe’s length should be a little more than what is needed to reach the p-trap or the discharge outlet pipe. This length can be cut as required for drain pipe installation.

Step 5: Install the drain pipes

If you followed all the directions above, you are now left with a discharge tube and the rest of the plumbing if yours were a double sink, or a p-trap and the rest of the plumbing if yours were a single sink.

Drain pipe installation for double sink

Drain pipes installed on a double kitchen sink
Drain pipes installed on a double kitchen sink

What we are going to do here is connecting the existing drain pipes to the tailpipe from the sink strainer. For this, we need a coupling elbow. Depending on the length of the coupling elbow, the length of the discharge tube that previously connected the garbage disposal to the drainpipe’s tee junction should be adjusted. If the elbow is not long enough, you will have to replace this drain pipe with a new one. Measure twice and cut once.

Make the connections and make sure that every joint are properly sealed with washers. You do not need to install double p-traps; a single one will do.

Drain pipe installation for sink sink

If yours were a single sink, then the p-trap and the drain pipe going into the wall is what is left of the old plumbing. The p-trap needs to be connected directly to the tailpipe from the sink. If I am not wrong, you will have to disconnect the p-trap and replace the drainpipe with a longer one for it to reach the sink’s tailpipe. Take the necessary measurements and size the pipes accordingly. Connect the new drain pipe to the p-trap and the p-trap to the sink’s tailpipe, and we are done.

Installing drain pipes

Once the whole replacement is done, run lots of water into the sink to check for any leaks. Make sure to use sealants wherever necessary.

Reasons to remove garbage dispsoal

The reason why people choose not to have a garbage disposal varies. Some people choose to compost their food wastes which is a more environmentally friendly way than using a garbage disposal. Some are tired of constant clogs in the disposal and the hassles of maintaining it.

But many people who choose to get rid of garbage disposals do so because they messed up the plumbing system. Many try to remodel their kitchen themselves, and a trendy thing now is the use of deep sinks like farmhouse sinks. The problem with installing deep sinks is that the plumbing needs to be lowered for the drain pipes to work. More often than not, the additional space needed for the garbage disposal with the already lowered sink leaves no room for the plumbing to be lowered. So they end up with a drain that sits higher than the outlet of the garbage disposal. This leads to a non-ending saga of clogs, after which they bring in an expert plumber who recommends them to throw away the garbage disposal.

My name is Thomas Anderson, author of DisposalQA. I have 15 years experience working as a plumber in CA, and this is where I answer common questions about garbage disposals.