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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;

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

The solution

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.

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.