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Question DetailsAsked on 3/14/2017

how can my garbage disposal leak sometimes and not always

leaking by disposal seal and by sink connection sometimes and not always

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2 Answers


You actually have at least 2 seals there (hopefully) - one between the sink and the drain insert (usually sealed with plumber's dope, which is an oiled clay which is smeared on during assembly), then a gasket between the drain and the garbage disposal. Sometimes you have a rubber splash protector in there too - can be just push-in pressfit type, or can be bolted up with the disposal and will leak when it gets torn or worn out.

Plus of course (though sounds like you may have determined your it from the top of the disposal at the sink), you can have leaks at the the outlet drain pipe from the garbage disposal, and commonly a dishwasher discharge hose clamped onto a "barb" sticking out the side of the disposal. There are also seals around the grinder/motor shaft that can leak, causing water to come out the openings (air vents) in the bottom of the motor or around the shaft on the bottom.

Any one of these can leak as the disposal vibrates around, especially if it has worked loose and is physically moving in use, not just vibrating a bit. Also, the disposal ejects water faster when running - so it may be leaking at the seal to the sink if the disposal is filling up with water because it is blocked by debris in the disposal, or because you dumped a sinkload of water down into the disposal all at once. A lot of soap foaming in there also inhibits drainage, so heavy suds foaming might be backing water up in the disposal to the point it overflows at a leak or a seal/gasket which is no longer watertight.

Also - when disposals wear through the wear ring (which is a stainless or ceramic ring inside which the grinder grinds the food against on the inside), it will then wesr through the outside of the housing - causing leaks that rapidly get worse with more use. Can take the form of one or two spot leaks initially, a whole series of wear-through spots around the (roughly) center o "belt line" of the disposal - or in extreme cases where the leakage has not been noticed, the disposal can wear/rust clear through at its beltline, cutting the outer casing essentially in half.

I would dry everything off with paper towel, then first try running a low flow of water, then more, then run dishwasher, then fill sink with water and let empty all at once - progressively until you find the leak. Check with bare hand or paper towel for wet spots underneath while testing - or track back "uphill" from drips on the cabinet "floor".

Might just need a connection tightened up, the disposal mounting bolts tightened (don't overdo it - reefing on them can buckle the bottom of the sink or break the countertop), a leaking hose or pipe replaced, the disposal-to-sink gasket or plumbers dope seal replaced, or maybe the entire disposal replaced if it is leaking at shaft or through the body.

Also - a cracked sink will commonly appear to be a leak at the connection, even though it is maybe actually flowing down the outside surface of the sink to that point.

An overflowing air vent (countertop or sink apron mounted) or leaking spray nozzle or faucet can sometimes do this too, leaking onto the back skirt of the sink, down under the sink skirt (if not fully caulked or puttied), then down the outside of the sink bowl till it gets to the drain.

Obviously, if not up to DIY'ing the repair, Plumbing would be your normal Search the List category to find a vendor to troubleshoot and repair it. Handymen also - but unless you have a good one you already know, having them do electrical or plumbing can be an iffy thing - and the consequences of a job improperly done are a bit more severe than with normal handyman fix-it jobs.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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