Garbage Disposal Leak? Here's What to Look For

You’ve been there: you’ve just finished dinner and started washing dishes when you feel a cold drip on your feet. The sink is leaking again? The likely culprit? Your garbage disposal.

While the garbage disposal is a handy tool, it is prone to leaks because of its complex mechanisms and numerous connections. You can save time and money by checking for leaks on your own before you call a plumber to come fix the problem.


Four connections that are prone to leaks:

  • sink flange (the connection with the disposal and the sink)
  • dishwasher hose (you will have to turn on the dishwasher to test for a leak here)
  • disposal outlet hose (this hose takes waste and sends it out of the house)
  • internal parts (wear and tear over the life of the disposal can cause internal cracks)


Find the Leak

To find these leaks, follow these few easy steps:

Grab a bucket, food coloring, a drain plug, and lots of water to help you find the leaks.


Step 1: Disconnect the garbage disposal

Please be safe and fully turn off and unplug the garbage disposal before checking for leaks.


Step 2: Place the bucket underneath the sink

This bucket will catch water from leaks in the disposal.


Step 3: Fill the sink just under half-way full, and color with food coloring

This water will leak out and the color will help you see it against the black appliance parts.


Step 4: Let the water drain and identify leaky areas

Look under the sink and identify where the water is leaking from.

Diagnose the Leak

If water is leaking from the:


Top: You probably have a leak in the sink flange, which is the connection between the sink and the disposal. This fix requires the disposal to be disconnected from the sink, and for the metal connection and the putty seal to be replaced.  At this point, give us a call and we will send an experienced technician to replace the flange.


Side: Leaks from the middle of the disposal unit come from the dishwasher hose or disposal outlet hose. The hoses or connections may have worn down. If this is the case, they will need to be replaced. If you’re experienced with home repairs, you can fix this yourself. Otherwise, it’s time to call a professional.


Bottom: A leak at the bottom indicates broken seals and cracks inside the disposal itself. If you find leaks here, you’ll need to get a new disposal. Again, you should call a professional to replace this for you. Garbage disposals are built to last 5 to 10 years. If your disposal is older than that, we recommend replacing the entire unit instead of trying to repair it temporarily.


If you’re experiencing garbage disposal leaks and cold drips on your feet, it’s time to call in the technicians at Bellow’s Plumbing, Heating & Air.


We are always happy to assess issues and provide professional service to replace broken sink elements. Please give us a call at 831-219-8644 for the Santa Cruz area,  408-866-4620 for Santa Clara areas, or 415-949-0935 for Marin County. When you find a leak in any part of your garbage disposal, you’ll know you need us!