In our zeal to quickly clean off dinner plates, serving trays, and cutting boards, we’ve all experienced that moment when the garbage disposer has reached critical mass, and the developing clog begins to back up water and debris in the sink. Unjamming the disposer’s grinding plate and using a little more care when disposing of food waste will usually clear this issue up.
But what do you do when water is actually leaking out of the disposer itself? This may not be as catastrophic as you think since many garbage disposer leaks can be solved by relatively simple part replacement procedures that the average DIYer can easily take on.
Where is the water supposed to go?
Garbage disposers (or “disposals” as the appliance is often referred to) use a grinding, or shredding, plate to break down solid food waste into particles small enough to be washed down the drain. To do this, the unit is installed between the kitchen sink drain and the drainpipe which sends water and debris to the outside of the home. A steady stream of cold water should be running through the disposer for this process to work effectively. Disposers use a splash guard attached to the top of the unit or positioned in the sink drain opening to prevent water from being slung upwards during operation.
Provided the disposer and components such as the splash guard are installed properly, the water exiting the sink drain should flow through the grinding plate and out the drain pipe attached to the disposer’s drain port… and nowhere else. If you discover water pooling on the floor of the cabinet below the sink, the disposer has developed a leak.
Why is the garbage disposer leaking water?
To solve the problem of a leaking garbage disposer, it’s important to identify where the leak is originating from. Here are the five most common causes of a leaking disposer and how you can fix it fast:
- Torn sink flange gasket – A leak originating near the top of the disposer is often caused by a torn sink flange gasket. This flat gasket, which sits at the top of the unit’s mounting flange, can easily be replaced with a new one, but make sure the mounting flange is properly tightened when reinstalling the disposer. If your disposer does not have a sink flange gasket, you can use plumber’s putty to help seal the mounting flange to the sink.
- Damaged lower flange gasket – Disposers have a lower gasket as well, located at the bottom of the mounting flange, which could be damaged and allow water to leak near the top of the unit. Again, a damaged lower flange gasket can be replaced with a new one to solve the problem.
- Worn splash guard – Some disposers will have a splash guard attached to the top of the unit that serves the same purpose as a lower flange gasket. As with the gaskets, the splash guard can be replaced to help fix a leak.
- Broken O-ring – Most disposers will have an O-ring that helps seal the upper portion of the housing to the lower portion. A separate O-ring may be sealing the unit’s drain port to the drain pipe. If either of these O-rings are broken or loose, a leak can develop. O-rings are inexpensive and relatively simple to replace, so if the one on your garbage disposer is broken, replacing it should be a quick, easy solution.
- Failed motor seal – A water leak coming from the disposer housing strongly indicates the motor seal has failed. A failed motor seal means the disposer itself will have to be replaced with a new one.
… And one more thing you absolutely need to check
Do you have a dishwasher with a drain hose connected to a newly-installed garbage disposer? You absolutely need to check to see if the knock-out plug has been inadvertently left in the disposer’s inlet port. New garbage disposers have a plug installed in the inlet port so the appliance can be used without a dishwasher drain hose attached to it (that way, the water exiting the sink won’t spill out of this port on its way to the disposer’s drain port).
If your dishwasher’s drain hose is connected to the disposer’s inlet port with the plug intact, the water draining from the dishwasher could be leaking out at the hose’s connection point. This knock-out plug should literally be “knocked-out” to allow the dishwasher water to drain through the disposer. You can easily do this by inserting a flat-head screwdriver into the inlet port and striking the end of the tool with a hammer to detach the plug.
Conversely, if you don’t have a dishwasher drain hose attached to the port and the knock-out plug is missing, water could be leaking out of the port. In this case, you can use some sealing gum or a cap to cover the inlet port to prevent the water from exiting.
Repair Clinic can help stop your garbage disposer from leaking
Whether you need to replace a flange gasket, splash guard, O-Ring, or any other garbage disposer component, Repair Clinic.com stocks genuine manufacturer replacement parts for units built by such top names as Kenmore, Frigidaire, GE, Whirlpool, Insinkerator, Sinkmaster, Moen, Waste King, and Whirlaway. How can you find the right part for your particular unit? Enter the full model number of the garbage disposer in the Repair Clinic website search bar to see a comprehensive list of compatible parts. From there, you can use the “Part Category” filter (Examples: “Bracket & Flange”, “Gasket & Seal”) along with the “Part Title” filter (Examples: “Flange”, “O-Ring”) to identify the specific part that fits your disposer.
In addition to millions of replacement parts, Repair Clinic is home to a vast library of DIY repair help content. With a little exploring, you’ll discover thousands of troubleshooting and “how-to” videos, diagrams, schematics, and step-by-step guides; all created to assist you in taking on the repair yourself. You’ll gain the confidence you need to fix your own appliances, outdoor power equipment, and heating and cooling products, while saving money with every repair.