Continuing our troubleshooting guide on the handful of things that go wrong with a garbage disposal, today we’ll look at leaks and slow draining.  As with most garbage disposal issues, you can easily fix the majority of them yourself without calling in a professional.  And a quick safety reminder before we get started – be sure to cut power to the disposal whenever working on it, and NEVER stick your hand down the sink and into the unit to retrieve, for example, broken glass or to dislodge the flywheel.  Back to the troubleshooting:

  1. Leaks.  If you’re leaking at the sink flange (the metal rimmed drain cup that sits flush in the top of the metal or porcelain sink drain hole) you’ll need to remove the disposal from the mounting under the sink by rotating the unit counterclockwise.  It should pop right off.  Here’s a great illustration showing all the parts of the disposal for reference.  Next loosen the mounting screws below enough to be able to push the sink flange on top up off its seat and apply some plumbers putty between the flange and its seat.  Retighten the mounting screws, and remove any excess putty pushed out from under the sink flange.  Reattach the disposal, power up, and test.  Now if the leak is at the dishwasher connection you’ll need to either tighten the connector up enough to stop the leak or replace the hose and/or connector altogether.  If you have a leak at the discharge drainpipe, disconnect the pipe, and replace the gasket.  That should stop the leak.
  2. Slow drain.  First of all DO NOT use chemical drain cleaners with your garbage disposal.  Those cleaners, like Drain-o, can damage the working parts of the unit and hasten its demise.  Remove the bolts holding the discharge pipe to the disposal.  Disconnect the drain trap.  Check all parts for clogs or other obstructions.  If you don’t find anything that’s a sign that the clog is in the pipe going into the wall and not in the disposal.  Using a sink auger will clear that right up.

A couple quick do’s and don’ts to maintain a healthy, functioning garbage disposal.  Do periodically grind lemon peel and ice cubes in your disposal to keep things smelling fresh while grinding away potential food deposits stuck on the shredding wheel or flywheel.  Do Not drop egg shells or potato skins down the disposal.  Egg shells and coffee grounds will cling to any sludge building up inside the unit, and potato skins produce a past like substance that sticks to everything and contributes to clogs.  Try our blog page for more helpful how-to articles, and visit our home buyer and home seller pages for great Real Estate tips.