A garbage disposal unit can leak due to one or more of around half a dozen causes. There can be an unconventional or unprecedented problem but there is enough evidence to believe that the root cause will typically be one of those we shall discuss in a moment. Before we get into how you should troubleshoot a garbage disposal leaking, you should note that professional help is recommended for severe leaks or even if you have a new unit that’s leaking. Your unit may be under warranty, it may have been installed poorly and there can be complex issues that you might not be able to diagnose. Let us first explore the causes of garbage disposal leaking so you can diagnose the condition and look for specific problems.
The sink flange can leak and this is one of the most common causes of garbage disposal leaking. The sink flange is the uppermost portion of the unit. It connects the disposal to the sink drain. The mounting bolts at the sink flange may have loosened over time. Frequent use and the toil of flushing down a lot of waste over a short period of time can cause controllable wear and tear of the sink flange. It would not break down or come apart, the mounting bolts will not loosen enough to fall out but there can be minor glitches. Any space that can allow water or liquid to seep through will be enough for a leak.
The sink flange has putty to keep it in place and to ensure sturdiness. The putty may have worn off, it may have come off and it could also be in its place without really holding the flange as it should. You will be able to see that the putty is no good as you work the sink flange. This may coexist with loosened mounting bolts.
Garbage disposal units are often connected to other appliances, for instance, a dishwasher. When you connect a dishwasher to a garbage disposal unit, there is obviously a point where the pipe or hose from the dishwasher is secured at the unit. If this clamp is not secured or if it is loose, then you would have leaks. You may also go against the best practices of using a dishwasher, by dumping food or not really getting rid of solid food from the plates and other utensils before you put them in the dishwasher. These solid wastes may get accumulated in the hose and eventually at the point where the dishwasher connects to the garbage disposal. This can clog up the passage, will prevent the flow of liquid waste and will cause leaks. You may also have a cracked hose that will facilitate garbage disposal leaking. You should be watchful as to where the liquid waste or water is actually seeping out of. Don’t just focus on where it is accumulating after the drips.
You may have a problem with the discharge pipe. This pipe connects the sink to the drain. The flange and the seal is a part of this whole discharge pipe setup. The discharge pipe can suffer damage, the bolts and clamps may weaken over time, the seal may wear out and there can be cracks of other issues facilitating the garbage disposal leaking. You need to look for the problem and make amends or you can replace the discharge pipe.
A crack in the body of the garbage disposal will also cause leaks. The interior shell is more likely to crack since it is supposed to endure all the activity and passage of waste. The exterior remains relatively shielded. If there is a crack in the shell, then it will allow liquid to seep out.
Relocate the Unit
Another common cause of garbage disposal leaking is physically moving the unit, albeit unintentionally. Garbage disposal units installed with the sink usually have space under the sink used up to store an array of items. One often bends down to get an item or just casually shoves something under the sink. Any kind of external force can impact the unit. If the force is enough, then the unit may be knocked loose. This will distort the alignment and the unit will leak.
Here is a brief guide to help you troubleshoot garbage disposal leaking.
The sink flange will only need the mounting bolts to be tightened. If the putty needs to be replaced, get a new patch of plumber’s putty. It is possible that you would need both. Do not compromise on the quality of the putty or the new bolts if you need them.
You should always ensure connections to the dishwasher and other appliances if any are sealed and functioning properly. Use quality hoses and always be mindful of how you are using those appliances and the garbage disposal unit.
Maintain the unit, clean debris, tighten the bolts and clamps from time to time and look for signs of damage that may demand a replacement.