How to Repair a Garbage Disposal Vibration Leak
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; because 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!
Has your garbage disposal gotten jammed before?
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.