Why is My Garbage Disposal Always Leaking
While garbage disposals are convenient, they can also be dangerous and cause serious problems when they are not maintained or used properly. Your disposal is like a large food processor. There are blades inside that will chop food waste into small pieces to fit through the holes in the bottom screen.
The blades can become stuck; motors can wear down, and leaks can occur if the disposal isn’t used correctly. While not all problems can be traced directly to the misuse of the disposal, many of them can.
Best Practices for the Disposal
- When grinding food in the disposal, make sure to run a steady stream of cold water into the sink. This will do two things. It’ll keep the motor cool as it works, and cold water will keep fats in solid form to be sliced up by the blades. Otherwise, fats can clog the drain.
- The blades can’t handle hard items like bones. If you wouldn’t put these things in your food processor, don’t shove them into your garbage disposal. The blades can become dull, get stuck or break while trying to cut bone or hard foods.
- Never put your hand down the disposal even when it’s turned off because the blades are still sharp enough to cut.
- Bleach should never be allowed into the sink. If you’re worried about odors, a mixture of baking soda and vinegar can remove unwanted odors. Bleach will only cause problems with the disposal’s seals.
- Don’t leave rags or cloths near the sink since they can slip into the disposal without your knowledge. It can be difficult to remove the cloth once it winds itself around the blades.
- Once a month, you might consider pouring a mixture of baking soda and vinegar into the disposal along with hot water to reduce the buildup of food in the disposal.
- Once a year, you’ll need to sharpen the blades of the disposal. You can do this without removing the disposal by adding ice cubes and running cold water. Ice cubes will sharpen the blades without having to remove anything.
Precautions to Take During Repairs
Before you start repairs or do an inspection on the disposal, make sure there’s no electricity running to the unit. Unplug it or turn off the breaker at the panel.
There could be a variety of causes that would make the disposal leak. The cause of the leak would depend on the location of the leak itself. Slip under the sink and examine the source of the leak to find out what part is leaking.
Check the Connections
In some disposals, the drainpipes are also connected to the pipe for the dishwasher. Make sure the connection between the dishwasher and the drain is seated properly. You might have to tighten the connection, check the hose or tighten flanges or bolts holding the hose onto the drain.
The connection of the disposal to the sink flange might be leaking. This is where the disposal meets the drain. Check the mounting bolts that secure it in place to be sure they’re tight.
A flange and seal connects the bottom of the disposal to the sink’s discharge pipe. With enough wear and tear over the years, these connections can fail. First, tighten the flange. If that doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to replace the seal.
Inspect for Possible Cracks
The disposal itself might have cracks if it’s an older unit. Cracks usually begin along the interior shell of the disposal. If that’s the problem, the entire unit would need to be replaced.
There might also be cracks in the hoses that lead from the dishwasher to the unit or from the disposal to the sink drain. Old hoses can become worn and broken. Replacing the tube should resolve the problem.
The unit is housed under the sink, which is also the place for many other items like pans or cleaners. Some homes keep their garbage pails out of the way under the sink too. When you reach under the sink, the unit could be knocked out of alignment. The seals could end up in an awkward position, and retaining bolts can be loosened.
To find the leak, you’ll have to see where it’s coming from to figure out what needs to be repaired, replaced or tightened. A professional plumbing company can find the leak and make the necessary repairs. If you end up with a unit that keeps leaking or needing repairs, it might be time for a new disposal.
VanGo Rooter in Sacramento, CA can be reached at (415) 779-0009 to inspect the disposal and find the leak for you.