Expert Plumbing Tip: How to Fix A Leaky Garbage Disposal

So you think your garbage disposal may be leaking, eh?

Here is everything you need to know to diagnose and to fix just about any leaking garbage disposal.

As always, reach out to us if you are in the Missoula, Montana area if you would like professional support for your leaky garbage disposal (or any plumbing or heating needs).

About Leaky Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals usually leak from one of three places: the top, the pipe connections, or the bottom. Check each of these common places to see where the leaks start. UYou can use a flashlight to check for condensation, puddling, and other signs of water accumulation. Remember, everything should be dry … so if you see water on, or beneath, your disposal – you have a leak..

Garbage disposal leaks happens for different reasons. Usually, a minor component is simply too loose or it has worn out over time. By locating your leak, you will be able to fix it using the tips below.

Here’s everything you need to know to fix your garbage disposal’s leak quickly and accurately.

Where is the Leak?

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.  This should be secure and tight.
  2. The dishwasher hose connection on the side of the garbage disposal. This is where the flexible plastic dishwasher hose connects to the disposal.  A properly connected hose is snug, clean, and dry.
  3. The drain line connection, (also located on the side of the disposal). This is where the main drain pipe connects to the disposal using 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.  This is another common area for leaks to occur.

Is the Garbage Disposal is Leaking?

Water, dampness, dripping, or musty smells under your sink indicate that you have a leak.

Remember, leaks can come from the sink itself or the p-trap.  Grab a flashlight and check the common leaky areas of your garbage disposal to identify the location of the leak.

Turn off the garbage disposal and unplug it completely. Then, fill up the sink with water about halfway. Add food coloring to the water if you have it – making 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 find this leak, you will want 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 locate it. Check for a slow, constant dripping or water accumulation beneath the unit.

How to Fix a Leaking Garbage Disposal

Fixing a leaking garbage disposal is usually pretty straightforward.

  1. The sink flange: Unscrew the bolts – checking for rust or other deterioration.  Replace the bolts as needed. Then, remove the flange, scrape 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: 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 time to remove the garbage disposal and replace it. Once the internal seals start to fail, it’s better just to replace the garbage disposal.

By following our expert plumbing tips above, you should be able to identify and fix just about any garbage disposal leak. However, if you need additional professional assistance – you can always call our plumbing experts to give you a hand!