How to Find a Garbage Disposal Leak

When it comes to garbage disposals, nothing is more important than proper maintenance and care, but sometimes, leaks can happen anyway.  Even if you’ve done everything right, you may one day find yourself reaching into the cabinet under your sink only to find a rapidly growing pool of water.  How did that happen?  Where did the leak even come from?

Don’t panic just yet.  We’re here to walk you through this unexpected situation and to help you find the source of your leak. Unfortunately, they’re not always as apparent as other types of leaks that happen around the home.  You really need to know where to look in order to find it, as well as what you’re looking for.  You should also be aware of your repair options before you dive in. So, let’s take a look:        

Locate & Identify

If you find yourself dealing with a leaky garbage disposal, you have to be able to locate the source of the problem.  With most garbage disposals, you can bet that your leak will be coming from one of these four locations:

  • The garbage disposal itself.
  • The dishwasher connection where a rubber hose usually connects to the side of your disposal.
  • The drain pipe.  This is usually either a plastic or metal pipe that drains water and food waste into the sewer.  
  • The sink flange.  This is what connects the top of your disposal to the bottom of your sink drain.

In order to identify the source of your leak, you will want to test your system.  Start by completely drying the outside of your sink flange and disposal.  This way, once you turn the water back on, you’ll be able to clearly see where new moisture is dripping or collecting.  Then, with a drain stopper in place, fill your sink with water, and wait a few minutes.  During this time, keep an eye on your disposal under the sink.  If you start to notice any dripping, your leak source is coming from the sink flange.  

If, however, nothing is happening, remove the drain stopper, and continue to watch your disposal.  At this point, you will probably start to see water coming from one of the other three points previously mentioned (i.e. the drain pipe, dishwasher connection or garbage disposal).  Once located, you’re ready to proceed with repairs.  

Repair Options

The appropriate fix for your garbage disposal will depend on the leak’s point of origin.  Now, for those comfortable enough with very small plumbing repairs, you may be able to temporary fix this issue.  If you have any doubts or hesitations at all, though, it’s best to leave this job up to the professionals, as it can easily become overwhelming.     

Repairing the Sink Flange:  If you find that you have a leaky sink flange, the repair may be as simple as tightening the bolts that fasten it to the sink drain.  If, however, you do this and your leak continues, you may need to apply some plumbers’ putty to reseal the flange into place.  

Repairing the Drain Pipe:  If your leak is coming from the drain pipe, it may just be loose, in which case you can simply tighten the connection.  But, if you find that the seal inside of the connection has broken, then it will need to be replaced.    

Repairing the Dishwasher Hose:  If your leak is coming from the dishwasher connection, check to see if the hose itself is just loose or cracked.  If it’s cracked, the hose will have to be completely replaced (we recommend you leave this up to your plumber), but a loose hose can be easily fixed with a little tightening.  

Repairing the Garbage Disposal:  If you find that your leak is coming from a crack inside the garbage disposal itself, this won’t be an easy fix.  Disposal leaks can be (and should be) repaired by a professional, but in many cases, you will actually save more money if you simply contact us to replace your disposal. Many of these worst-case scenario fixes can be costly.

When to Call Your Plumber

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so if you’re still not sure where your leak is coming from, contact your trusted plumber.  Here at Tritan Plumbing, we have a very skilled team of experts ready to answer your call. We will make sure that your job gets done quickly and efficiently so that your kitchen will be back up and running in no time.  


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