The garbage disposal is one of those things that make the modern kitchen such a wonder of convenience. But as is the case with all mechanical devices there’s the possibility you might encounter a problem from time to time. One of the more common and vexing problems that can befall a garbage disposal is leaking. A leaking disposal is not like a leaking pipe. The liquid that comes from the disposal is full of organic material and can wind up producing a very foul smell if you don’t take care of it quickly. Below we’ll look at common reasons why a disposal might be leaking and propose a few simple fixes.
Reasons Your Garbage Disposal is Leaking
- A loose sink flange – The sink flange is that part of the disposal assembly that is visible when you look in the sink. It’s typically made of stainless steel, is about 1/2 an inch wide and circles the drain opening. Over time this flange can become loose. Or the putty around it can degrade and develop leaks. To fix this, detach the disposal (after unplugging it of course), remove the flange, install new putty and reinstall the flange and disposal. A good afternoon job for a DIYer.
- Loose drain lines – Drain lines are what connect your disposal to the rest of the plumbing. Sometimes they come loose and start leaking. If the disposal is leaking under the sink from its sides, this might be the problem. Try tightening all the screws related to the drain lines and see if that stops the leaks.
- A broken seal – If the disposal is leaking from the bottom, it’s most likely because of a broken seal. If you have a broken seal on your disposal, you essentially have three choices. You can take the disposal apart yourself and install a replacement seal, you can pay a plumber or someone else to do the same, or you can replace the disposal. If you are unable to make the repair yourself, the smartest financial choice may be to simply replace the disposal.
- Wear and tear – Even garbage disposals, as hale and hearty as they are, get old and start breaking down. If you notice the disposal is leaking from around the reset button it’s an indication of some pretty serious internal issues. In this case, the smartest option is to replace the disposal. Simply because it will likely cost you more to fix it than it will to buy a new one.
Is There a Way to Prevent Garbage Disposal Leaks?
There’s not much you can do if the unit is old. But if you have recently installed a new disposal, there are a few common sense things you can do to ensure it has the longest, healthiest, most trouble-free life possible. Make sure you:
- Always avoid putting any foreign objects in the disposal.
- Have cold water running when you are grinding up food in the disposal.
- Avoid pouring bleach into the disposal for any reason.
- Avoid putting eggs shells, coffee grounds, rice or gristle into the disposal.
- Do periodic inspections to look for leaks and fix any you find ASAP.