You enter the kitchen and you notice a foul smell. You look around. Nothing! Unable to find any clue, you start opening the kitchen cabinets to check for any hidden culprit. When you open the cabinet under the kitchen sink, there it is – mystery solved! There’s either a stinking water puddle in there or the cabinet is wet (if no visible puddle). Most likely there is water leaking from garbage disposal.
A leaking garbage disposal is really easy to be missed unless there are strong evident and noticeable symptoms of the problem. A foul-smelling puddle in the sink or the cabinet under it, a soggy or wet cabinet, or water dripping from the sink unit on to the floor, creating a real mess in the whole kitchen. That’s when you tend to realise it’s time to take action.
This post intends to help you know all about this very common household problem and also present you with economical DIY solutions so that you don’t end up spending huge on calling a plumber.
Why My Garbage Disposal is Leaking Water?
Let’s understand the problem first before beginning to solve it. As mentioned earlier, a leak from garbage disposal can easily go unnoticed. So it may be difficult to understand as to why it’s leaking.
There are 3 common places in your kitchen where the garbage disposal leaks water:
- From the top – The most likely problem here is the usual wear-and-tear of the flange, also known as plumber’s putty, which connects the garbage disposal to the sink. This seal may corrode over time or loosen up, sometimes even due to hard hitting of the garbage disposal during some plumbing work carried out under the sink. The result: water starts leaking.
- From the bottom – Here the likely culprit is the garbage disposal itself. Its internal seals may corrode with passage of time and you may notice the garbage disposal leaking from bottom plate.
- From the side – The garbage disposal may also start leaking at the point where the drain lines connect (there are two connections at the side of the garbage disposal). Usually, the water from your dishwasher would be draining into the garbage disposal through the small drain line. The large pipe acts as the drain for the disposal into the sewer. A leakage in either hose or at the connecting point may result in a leakage.
How to Find the Garbage Disposal Leak?
Now we know the three most common places where the leak is likely to occur. But how to know where is exactly the garbage disposal leaking? Until the exact spot can be found, it’s hard to get on to fixing it. Here’s what you can do.
- Unplug the garbage disposal at the wall outlet and turn off the power to avoid getting an electrical shock.
- Now insert a watertight sink stopper into the sink drain. Wipe the unit dry with a clean cloth.
- Take few cups of water in a small container and add a few drops of food colouring to it. Start pouring the dyed water over the sink stopper to help locate the leak.
- Use a flashlight over the unit to determine where the dyed water is escaping from (the likely point of the leak) – top, side, or bottom of the unit.
- To examine each of these places more clearly, take a light-coloured duster and glide it over the unit. The coloured water will immediately show up on the duster, revealing the exact location of the leak.
- In case the leak isn’t immediately prominent, you can remove the sink stopper and pour some more coloured water down the sink drain. Check again this time. Sometimes the leak at the top of the unit is more imminent with the stopper is on, but if it’s at the bottom or the side, it comes into notice by unplugging the sink unit.
How to Fix a Leaky Garbage Disposal From the Bottom?
Now that you’ve figured out where the problem lies, time to go about fixing it. Leaks at the top or side of the garbage disposal can be more easily fixed by re-sealing and tightening the connection or replacing worn seals.
The real problem arises if the garbage disposal unit is leaking at the bottom because the only solution is to replace the entire disposal unit. This is because water leaking out at the bottom of the unit is an indicator that perhaps at least one interior seal of the unit, which covers and protects the motor, has worn out. There may also be a possibility of a crack in the shell.
This may result in the water flowing from the sink and seeping deep into the shell of the disposal, leaking out at the base of the unit. It has been generally observed that if one internal seal in an old garbage disposal unit wears off, it’s soon followed by other seals following suit. To prevent the problem from worsening, it might be a better idea to install a new garbage disposal system altogether.
How to Avoid Garbage Disposal Leaks in the Future?
As can be seen from the above, repairing a garbage disposal leak may not be very convenient, not to mention the plumbing cost involved if sought. It’d be best to avoid the problem altogether. Certain precautionary steps can help:
- While throwing food chunks down the disposal, always turn on cold water and keep it running for a while.
- Also, never put down certain food items down the disposal – large bones of meat, tea/coffee grounds, fat, oil, and grease, vegetable peels, fish skin, eggshells, rice and pasta. They can lead to pipe clogging and eventually cause leak.
- Examine the unit once in a while for cracks or small leaks, if any.
- Clean the garbage disposal regularly.
A leaking garbage disposal may lead to a very unpleasant smell in the kitchen if left unaddressed. Beside the obnoxious odor, it also creates a constant sense of panic while all your kitchen chores are at halt. It is hence essential to correct the leakage right when you notice it.
If the leakage isn’t severe, and you’re a ‘get ya hands dirty’ kind of a person, fixing the garbage disposal can be a pretty fun DIY project. If you’re currently facing a leak in your garbage disposal, the above method, I believe is a quick and reliable fix that’ll save you some precious bucks.