If your garbage disposal is leaking, you’ll eventually see water damage on the bottom of your kitchen sink cabinet or a pool of smelly water underneath the unit. In some cases, you may even hear or see water dripping out of the disposal any time you use the sink. Garbage disposals can leak out of the top, bottom or side, and a leak in each of these locations results from a different issue. That means that you first need to locate the source of the leak before you can determine what is causing it and how it can be fixed. Depending on the cause of the leak, it may be something you can fix on your own. As such, it’s always worth trying to locate the source of the leak so that you know if you need to enlist the help of a plumber.

Finding the Source of the Leak

Most garbage disposals leaks are quite small so it can be difficult to determine where the water is coming from. The easiest way to tell where the water is coming from is to wipe the disposal dry and then turn on the faucet and let the water run while inspecting the unit. However, you should always unplug the unit first before testing for leaks to prevent you from possibly getting shocked.

If you still can find the source of the leak, try plugging up the sink and adding some food coloring to a few drops of water. After unplugging the sink, use a flashlight to inspect the top, bottom and side of the disposal. When inspecting each location, wiping the entire area down with a paper towel will allow you to easily find the source of the leak.

Garbage Disposal Leaking Around the Top

A leak around the top of a garbage disposal indicates that the metal sink flange no longer has a watertight seal. This flange is what connects a garbage disposal to the drain, and it is sealed using plumber’s putty and then tightening the bolts on it. If the flange is leaking, it means that either the plumber’s putty has deteriorated or that the bolts have come loose. Tightening the bolts is sometimes all it takes to fix the issue and stop the leak.

If water is still leaking after tightening the bolts, it means you’ll need to replace the plumber’s putty. The only way to do this is to disconnect the disposal from the mounting assembly that connects it to the drain. While this is a task you could potentially do yourself, you’re usually best to hire a plumber just to make fully certain that the leak is fixed.

Water Leaking From the Side of the Garbage Disposal

If water is leaking from the side of your garbage disposal, it means that there is a leak either in the drain pipe or the drain hose coming from your dishwasher. The dishwasher hose connects to an inlet on the side of the disposal so that all of the water from the dishwasher drains into it. If water is dripping from around this inlet, you can usually fix the issue simply by tightening the screws on the hose clamp.

If water is leaking from around where the garbage disposal connects to the drain pipe, it usually means that the rubber gasket that seals between the two is worn out. This is also an issue that you should hire a plumber to fix since it requires disconnecting the drain pipe. If not done properly, you could make the leak worse since you could easily crack or break the drain pipe.

Water Dripping From the Bottom of the Disposal

The interior shell of a garbage disposal has multiple seals that protect the motor by ensuring that the shell is watertight. These seals can deteriorate over time and allow water to start seeping out of the shell. The shell can also crack and allow water to escape. Either of these issues will lead to water leaking or dripping out of the bottom of the unit, usually from around the reset button. Unfortunately, the only solution to either issue is to hire a plumber to replace the garbage disposal.

Tips for Preventing Garbage Disposal Leaks

The two most important steps for preventing garbage disposal leaks are to only ever use it for softer foods and to always run cold water when using your disposal. Grinding hard foods like fruit pits and stones, nut shells, raw potatoes, bones, etc. can end up damaging the internal seals or dislodging them and leading to the interior shell leaking.

Running cold water when using the disposal is important for washing down any fat that goes down the drain. If you use hot water, the fat will melt and can then congeal around the sink flange or rubber gasket in the drain pipe and cause it to deteriorate and start leaking.

If your garbage disposal no longer works, you can count on the team at TYCO Plumbing for help. We specialize in all types of plumbing, drain and sewer repairs as well as plumbing installation. For more information or to schedule a service call in the Brighton area, contact us today.

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