I have lots of experience with DIY plumbing and am here to share my tips and step-by-step pictorial guides with you.
What Makes the Waste Disposal Leak?
In a word, vibration. In older homes that have replaced the under-sink plumbing with PVC-style pipes, the vibration of the garbage disposal can cause the joints to work free and leak. It is actually a very common problem that has brought with it some unnecessary and pretty high plumbing bills. There is no such thing as a "cheap plumber"—unless it's you.
That Tiny Disposal Leak Became a Big Problem
When reaching under the sink for the dishwasher soap, you notice a puddle of water and a musky smell. When you look closer, you see mold, mildew, and a very wet cabinet floor. Don't get too worried, this doesn't have to spell disaster. With a few towels, a fan, a mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, and a few minor pipe repairs, the problem is quickly resolved. Let's see how.
Where the Water Ends Up Is Not Always Right Below the Leak
To find the leak location, you may need to backtrack from where the under-sink puddle has developed. Oftentimes, the water will begin where the vibration of the disposal has breached the pipes, but then travel along the pipe path only to drip a foot away from the actual leak site. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when looking for the leak site.
How to Find Where the Leak in a Pipe Starts
- The pipe may have a vibration leak in more than one place. So be sure to check the entire pipe path just in case.
- Run your hand along the pipe path where the trail of water is until you find the "drip point" (or points).
- If you find the dripping water, backtrack the path to pinpoint the leak location(s).
- Make sure the leak has traveled and isn't right under the pipe breach this time.
- Turn off the water supply once you have found the leak site and repair.
Repairing the Disposal Vibration Leak
Once you have located the leak site, the fix is relatively simple:
- Dry the surface of the pipe.
- Separate the pipe joint by unscrewing the PVC slip nut.
- Place plumbers Teflon tape or a sealing glue around the threads of the pipe or joint.
- Replace pipe back into the pipe path, and you are all done!
Be sure to allow the joint to dry to assure a good bond. Leave the doors open to let the cabinet floor dry completely, and let the bleach solution have time to kill the mildew.
What Else Can Cause the Garbage Disposal to Leak?
The vibration of the disposal is one problem that can cause your pipes to breach and leak. The other is having too much stuff under your sink.
With a crowded cabinet, it is far more likely you will bump or push against the pipes. This will cause them to bend and crack, bringing you your own private undiscovered PVC pipe leak. So keep enough space around your pipes to keep them safe from bumps and crowding damage.
Why Is My Sink Disposal Humming?
What do you do if your disposal motor runs but doesn't spin the grinding ring? Usually a "humming" disposal is no reason to call out the plumber or service person. This happens when the unit gets over filled, not used enough, overheats, or some other unknown reason.
Why Does My Disposal Get Jammed?
What is happening is the spinning (centrifuge of sorts) stops spinning and locks itself in place while the motor still has power running to it, which causes the sink (disposal) to hum. It is a very common problem, and it even has its own specialized tool and method of home repair built right in.
Better-quality disposals will have a reverse option that is very helpful, but some older and less expensive models have a special wrench to help you "un-jam" a disposal if it overheats. Here's what you do.
How to Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal in Five Easy Steps
- Locate the reset button on the bottom of the disposal (it is usually red) and press it. If this does not get your waste disposal unit running, proceed to the next step.
- In the center bottom of your garbage disposal unit, you will find a hex-type indention. The special Allen wrench fits right into this hole. If you can't find your special Allen wrench tool, you can get one for cheap at a local home center.
- Place the wrench into the hex hole and give it turn. Try the unit to see if it has been released and if it is working. If not, try it again until it does.
- Once the unit has been released, run water through the drain and flip the unit on. Run only with water for 30 seconds.
- Gradually add bits of waste to make sure all is working as it should. You are all done!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on September 02, 2011:
Penny Circle~ Thanks so much for stopping by. We don't use our disposal that much, as we compost and raise worms so these help reduce any food waste from going into the disposal unit. It is important to run it regularly to keep it from jamming up. So we add citrus peels to it weekly to condition the grinding blade and freshen the drain. I sure appreciate you stopping by for a read!
India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on August 31, 2011:
Eiddwen~ It's been so long since I have seen you around, so glad you are here today! And thank you for the kind remarks. Wishing well!
Eiddwen from Wales on August 31, 2011:
A very useful hub and here's to many more to share,
India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on August 30, 2011:
Cags! I have missed you! Very flattered you stopped by today, and thank you for the high praise on the hub. I have been writing plumbing hubs like crazy lately, hardly having time to come up for air! Thank you so much for making it over today, I am honored!
Raymond D Choiniere from USA on August 30, 2011:
Very nicely done K9keystrokes. I came by to see what you've been up to and really didn't need to read this hub, but did anyway. The reason I didn't need to read it, isn't because I knew how to repair a garbage disposal vibration leak already. I didn't, but do now. Then again, I don't even have a garbage disposal to repair. LOL! However, this hub will help those that do. :) Voted up! :)
India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on August 30, 2011:
Cardisa! Nice to see you today, and that you found the hub helpful. Your boyfriend will be your plumbing hero should your disposal start to hum! Thanks for your support.
Robin~ LOL!! Product placement on HubPages...Ha! It worked! You are so observant! I got my box of Drano Snake Plus from this really cool HubCamp I went to this month! I learned a ton of stuff about hubbing, I was gifted some REALLY cool HubPages swag, and the one-on-one tutorials were priceless! Everyone should go to a HubCamp in their area, it was a blast! :)
Thanks for the comments Robin, I am always honored when you make it by.
Simone~ It is so nice of you to find time to read my little plumbing hubs! Feel lucky to NOT have to worry about a humming disposal, it is in no way a pleasant melody! Thank you for the continued motivation to write here!
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on August 30, 2011:
I've never had an issue with a humming garbage disposal... heck, I don't have one right now- but I'll definitely be returning to this Hub should it become a problem for me. Your troubleshooting advice is excellent.
Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on August 30, 2011:
Another great Hub about plumbing, K9! We often have a leaking problem under our sink, but we have realized that it is from the faucet dripping water. Luckily, it's been an easy fix. If we ever have a problem with our garbage disposal, I'll be sure to reference your Hub. BTW, I love the Drano Snake Plus in the picture from under your sink. Where did you get that? ;)
Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on August 30, 2011:
Wow, another excellent tutorial K9, I am really impressed with the details. Thank you for this very useful hub. I am definitely letting my boyfriend read this!