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How to Fix a Leaky Garbage Disposal

If you notice water in the cabinet under your sink, a leaking garbage disposal may be to blame. To find the leak, thoroughly clean up any wet areas to provide a clean slate for working. Then unplug the garbage disposal to ensure that you’re not mixing electrical with water and avoid electrical shock.

Next, you’ll want to determine where the water is coming from exactly. Water can leak from one of three different places – the top of the disposal where it meets the sink, the middle area where the pipe or hose is connected to the disposal, or the bottom of the disposal (i.e. the disposal itself). The best way to figure out where water is leaking from your garbage disposal is to pour some colored water down the drain and strategically wipe each area with a clean white cloth or paper towel.

Leaking from the Top

If water is leaking from the top of the unit, the culprit is likely the seal on the flange holding the unit against the sink drain. Over time the plumber’s putty used to seal this area when it was installed can crack and break down. The result is a flimsy seal that can allow water to leak through to your cabinets underneath. Luckily, the solution is replacing this worn out seal with a new watertight seal. Ensure that the unit is unplugged and then loosen the screws and clamps to remove your garbage disposal. Once the disposal has been removed, lift the flange out and re-putty the seal using a thin rope of plumber’s putty (less than a ¼ of an inch). Press the flange back down tightly. Don’t worry if some putty oozes out. Once the flange is re-seated, reverse the steps you took when removing the disposal to reattach the disposal unit. Then, wipe away any excess putty with a damp cloth and allow the seal to set before running water over it. After letting it dry for a few hours, plug the disposal back in and test it again with colored water to ensure no water is leaking while the sink is in use or the disposal is running. If this doesn’t fix the issue, call an experienced plumber. Your local plumber has the tools and expertise needed to find and fix the issue quickly to get you back to using your kitchen sink once again. Replacing your garbage disposal may be necessary to stop the leak, but an experienced plumber can advise you on whether this is necessary, or whether the leak can be fixed without needing to replace your garbage disposal.

Leaking from the Middle

If you see water leaking from the middle, it’s likely coming from the water inlet pipe or the drain line. The biggest culprit here is usually a loose metal clamp that connects the inlet line. Tightening the clamp with a screwdriver can fix the problem if it’s in good condition otherwise. Rusted or broken clamps may need to be replaced. The other common problem that can occur is that the rubber gasket on the waste drainpipe has worn out. Replacing this gasket can ensure a watertight seal once more, fixing the leak. After tightening or replacing either of these, test the disposal for leaking. If water is still leaking, call a professional plumber to come out and diagnose and fix your garbage disposal

Leaking from the Bottom

If water is leaking from the bottom of your garbage disposal, call a top-rated plumber right away. This is likely a sign that your garbage disposal has an internal part that has broken, indicating that the garbage disposal will need to be replacedReplacing a garbage disposal is something that local plumbers do all the time, so they’ll have the experience needed to get the job done right the first time.

Additional resources:
Water damage under your cabinets from a leaking garbage disposal
Do you need an emergency plumber?
Common garbage disposal problems
Is your kitchen faucet leaking?
How to replace your kitchen sink
Fixing a leaky kitchen sink
Unclogging a clogged garbage disposal
DIY faucet installation