So, you've opened up the cabinet underneath your sink to find a puddle of water. Oh no! Your garbage disposal is leaking, and you're not sure what to do. Can it be repaired? Will you need to replace the disposal altogether? By keeping some important tips in mind as you troubleshoot your garbage disposal issues, you can have the problem diagnosed and fixed in no time.
Unplug the Disposal Before Servicing
Once you've determined there's water leaking from your garbage disposal, the best thing you can do is to shut it off and place a drip pan underneath where the leak is coming from. This way, you won't have to worry about accidentally injuring yourself while working on the disposal. Furthermore, you'll have a container to capture the leaking water, which can help protect your cabinets and the surrounding material from potentially expensive damage. Most garbage disposals are electric, so you'll just need to locate where yours plugs into the wall and unplug it.
Check for Bad Plumber's Putty and Gaskets
Next, based on the location of the leak, try to figure out what might be wrong. For example, if the leak is coming from the top of your garbage disposal, there's likely a problem with the seal between your garbage disposal and your sink. Loosen the screws or bolts holding the disposal in place and check underneath the gasket; there should be a layer of plumber's putty. Over time, this can become brittle and break away, resulting in gaps large enough for water to leak through. You can purchase plumber's putty at your local home improvement store and replace it easily.
If the leak is coming from the side of the disposal, there's a good chance it's leaking around the drain pipe. Try tightening the gasket between the pipe and the disposal. If that doesn't do the trick, the gasket itself may need to be replaced.
Know When it's Time for Replacement
Most garbage disposal leaks can be repaired, but if you find that your disposal is leaking from the bottom, this is often a sign that you need total replacement. Usually, a disposal will only leak from the bottom when rust, corrosion, and wear and tear have eaten a hole through the metal tank itself. Unfortunately, this isn't something that can be patched; you'll need to purchase and install (or have a professional plumber install) a new disposal right away. If you need help, call plumbing services -- they'll get things sorted out.