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Garbage Disposal Leaking? 8 Reasons + Fixes

Is your garbage disposal taking a leak? We can help. 

Sprung a leak? If your garbage disposal is leaking, it’s important to fix that as quickly and efficiently as possible. We’ll tell you how to know if your garbage disposal is leaking, possible causes and of course, ways to fix it.

You’ll also learn ways to prevent future leaks. That way, you can ensure you have the best functioning garbage disposal possible.

Key Takeaways

  • Leaking garbage disposal signs: water leaking from the top, bottom, or side, damp and smelly cupboard, and water buildup in the dishwasher.
  • Common reasons for leaks: worn gaskets, loose drain lines, dishwasher connection issues, and split body.
  • Fixing leaks: tighten clamps and screws, replace gaskets, and check connections between the dishwasher and disposal.
  • Prevent future leaks: avoid overcrowding the cupboard, dispose of proper food items, clean regularly, and check for leaks annually.

Signs That Your Garbage Disposal Is Leaking

It’s important to know the signs of leaky garbage disposal. Unfortunately, if you don’t notice the leaks early on, the issues may be beyond repair by the time you do notice. Here are some signs that your garbage disposal is leaking:

  • Leaks from the top: If water is leaking from the sink flange, that means that the plumber’s putty or screws have come loose.
  • Leaks from the unit: If there are visible leaks from the bottom of the unit, or you notice your cupboard is damp, then your garbage disposal itself is leaking.
  • Leaks from the side: If your garbage disposal is leaking from the side, or from the connections, this is a problem with the drains.
  • Leaks into dishwasher: If you notice leaks or water buildup in your dishwasher, this is a sign that there are cracked or loose connections between the dishwasher and disposal.
  • Wet and smelly cupboard: Are you noticing bad smells and dampness in the cupboard where your garbage disposal is? Maybe it’s more obvious and there’s a big puddle or water dripping out the cupboard onto the kitchen floor.

You should also listen out for leaks. Sometimes you can hear dripping sounds which indicates there’s a bigger issue at hand.

Reasons for Garbage Disposal Leaking

If you’ve found a leak in your garbage disposal, knowing the cause can help you to fix it and prevent it from happening again. Here are the main reasons your garbage disposal might have sprung a leak.

Worn Gaskets

Worn gaskets may be the cause. If your leak is on the side, where the disposal meets the waste drain pipe, it’s likely that the rubber gasket inside the pipe is worn down. You could also check the gasket between the flange and the rubber seal. It may only start as a little drip of water, so we recommend checking this frequently, before the problem gets worse.

Leaky Sink Flange

You’ll find your sink flange at the top of the garbage disposal unit (but still underneath the sink). It’s where the disposal meets the sink. If there are leaks from this spot, it might be from loosened putty or screws.

Dishwasher Connection Issues

Did you find a leak at the connection between the dishwasher hose and the disposal’s dishwasher inlet? This is usually on the side of the disposer. It could be a dishwasher connection issue. The metal clamps could be loose, or there’s a crack or issue with the hose itself.

Loose Drain Lines

If you have loose drain lines, you’ll notice drips or leaks from the drains. There could be a loose connection, or cracks in the drains, which is common over time. Check the spots where the garbage disposal meets the drain lines, for leaks too.

Split Body

If your garbage disposal itself is leaking, check for splits or cracks on the unit. These can occur from other leaks, knocks, bumps or accidents within the unit.

Loose Seals or Pipes

Check under your sink for loose seals or pipes. If there are leaky spots, or drips, from seals or pipes, it might just be that they’re a bit loose. This is common in overcrowded cupboards, as somebody might have bumped or nudged the pipes.

Discharge Pipe Issues

The discharge pipe — located at the bottom of your unit — might be the issue. If your unit is leaking from the bottom, this could very well be the cause. Check the pipe itself for wear and tear. If that’s not the case, check for loose or damaged connections.

Leaky Reset Button

Most garbage disposals have a reset button at the bottom. If you have water leaking out of this area, it’s too complicated and costly to fix. Acknowledging that’s where the problem is, is the first step. But from then, it’s best to contact the manufacturer for a replacement (if it’s still under warranty) or buy a new unit.


If you have a leaky reset button, turn off the power to the unit and unplug. Water and electrics don’t mix.

How to Fix Garbage Disposal Leaking

Now that you know where your leak is, it’s time to fix the leaky location. Before you get started, we recommend putting a shallow container and towel down on the cupboard floor. This can collect any water so you don’t damage your cupboard interior or floors.

Garbage Disposal Leaking From Top

This is most likely the sink flange. There could be an issue with the plumber’s putty or the screws. If your sink flange is screwed on, simply tighten or replace the screws. If it’s secured with plumber’s putty, here’s how to fix the issue:

  • Remove the garbage disposal: Unscrew or untwist your garbage disposal from the main drain pipe. Disconnect the unit from the dishwasher hose. Remove the mounting ring that holds the disposal to the other components under the sink. Completely detach the unit and remove it from the cupboard. This gives you space to fix the sink flange.
  • Remove the mounting assembly: Use a wrench to remove the bolts from the mounting assembly, take it out of the cupboard and put it with the garbage disposal.
  • Raise the flange: At the top of the sink, raise the flange. It should lift off easily now. If not, use a flat screwdriver to ease it out of place.
  • Remove putty: If there is plumber’s putty around the top of the sink flange, remove that and clean it with a damp cloth.
  • Apply putty: Make a rope with a handful of plumber’s putty. Make sure it will fit the circumference of the flange. Apply it to the upper part of the flange, then fix it into place.
  • Replace parts: Put the mounting ring and assembly back on, and tighten the screws. Then reinstall the drainpipe, dishwasher hose and disposal unit.
  • Wipe: Wipe off any excess plumber’s putty.
  • Test for leaks.

Garbage Disposal Leaking From Reset Button

This commonly happens during the end of a garbage disposal’s life. If you’ve got an old garbage disposal, and this is the case, it’s time for a new one. You may still be covered by the warranty, so definitely check. If it’s a new garbage disposal, and there are leaks from the reset button, the warranty should cover a replacement.

Garbage Disposal Leaking From Sink Flange

If your garbage disposal is leaking from the sink flange, or the top of the unit, follow the steps from our “Garbage Disposal Leaking From Top” section.

Garbage Disposal Leaking From Power Cord

If you find leaks from the bottom of the garbage disposal where the power cord is located, turn off the power immediately as this could be a fire hazard.

Check for cracks or splits on the unit. If there are some, contact the manufacturer and they should send you a replacement if the unit is still under warranty. If there is no evidence of wear and tear, then there may be an issue inside of the unit.

Because this is a fire hazard, we recommend contacting a professional. Keep the power off in the meantime, and do not use your garbage disposal.

Ultimately, if there are leaks coming from the power cord, then it might just be time for a new unit.

Garbage Disposal Leaking From Weep Hole

A weep hole is a small opening intended for water drainage. You may notice a little hole at the top of your garbage disposal unit. This isn’t actually a weep hole — this is a side drain that can be connected to your dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, you should add a section of hose here with a clamp and plug to keep water from leaking.

However, you may also think you have a leak hole which appears as a tiny hole at the side. But this is likely water pressure that has created a burst in the drain pipes. To fix this, you should replace the drain pipes.

Garbage Disposal Leaking From Side Hole

Garbage disposals can leak from the side, where the dishwasher connects. To fix this issue, follow these steps:

  1. Using a screwdriver, tighten the metal clamp that connects the main drain to the dishwasher connection.
  2. If there are still leaks, replace the rubber gasket that connects these two units.

The leak may be coming from the other side hole where the disposal meets the waste drain pipe. Follow these steps to fix this issue:

  1. Loosen the screws that connect the drain pipe to the garbage disposal.
  2. Check the rubber gasket inside the pipe. If it’s worn out, replace the gasket.
  3. Tighten the drain pipe screws.
  4. Check for leaks.

Garbage Disposal Leaking From Side Pipe

Check all the screws on the side pipes. Tighten them and test for leaks.

If you still have leaks, look for parts that look out of place or are worn down. You may need to replace pipes or connections. You could also use plumber’s putty to fix loose seals if it’s just a small drip. Keep in mind this is only a temporary fix.

If the leak is coming from the discharge pipe, change the seal between the holding nut and the discharge pipe.

Best Be

If you’re still experiencing leaks from side pipes and can’t fix the issue, you may have loose plumbing. In this case, it’s best to call a plumber to investigate and fix the issue.

How to Prevent Garbage Disposal Leaking

Nobody likes a leaky garbage disposal. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this from happening in the future.

  • Don’t overcrowd the cupboard where your garbage disposal is: If you have too many items in here, they can easily knock or bump your unit and cause loose connections or wear and tear. Keep a minimal amount of stuff in this cupboard, or organize it in a way that doesn’t affect the garbage disposal unit.
  • Don’t put the wrong foods into the garbage disposal: Always check your manufacturer’s guide when you buy your garbage disposal. This will tell you exactly what can and cannot go into a unit. This normally includes harder items like bones or fruit pits.
  • Don’t clog up your garbage disposal: Putting too much food into your unit can clog it, causing it to wear and tear quickly. You should also avoid stringy foods, such as celery and bananas, as these can get caught and build up over time.
  • Run cold water after using your garbage disposal: Cold water can help the waste to go down the pipes and get out of the disposer. Hot water, on the other hand, can melt fats and grease, which can then get stuck in the drains.
  • Clean your garbage disposal regularly: Once every week or two is ideal. If you’re going out of town, clean the garbage disposal before you go so that no food remains in there while you’re gone. Otherwise, you’ll come home to some pretty awful smells. The BioWonder Tank Treatment is our top recommendation.
  • Check for leaks every year: Unplug your garbage disposal and turn off the power at the breaker box. Insert a sink stopper into your sink and wipe the garbage disposal with a clean cloth. In a separate container, mix together water and food coloring. Pour the dyed water onto the sink stopper. Use a rag to wipe around the garbage disposal unit and check if the dyed water shows up on your rag. If so, you probably have a leak near the top of the unit. Remove the sink stopper and check for leaks again. If you have leaks elsewhere — like at drain connections or at the bottom — these will normally show up now.


Is It Worth Fixing a Leaking Garbage Disposal?

It is always worth trying to fix a leaking garbage disposal because the fault could be something simple like a loose connection or dried-up putty. It also saves you money on replacement costs.

How Many Years Does a Garbage Disposal Last?

A garbage disposal lasts about 15 years, provided it is used following the manufacturer’s guidelines and properly maintained.

How Do I Know If My Garbage Disposal Needs to be Replaced?

You know if your garbage disposal needs to be replaced when it takes longer for food to grind, it makes loud noises, you have to press the reset button more frequently, and it blocks easily.

Can I Run My Dishwasher If My Garbage Disposal is Leaking?

You can run your dishwasher if your garbage disposal is leaking, but remember that the dishwasher channels more water through the disposal, potentially making the leak worse.

How Do I Prolong the Life of My Garbage Disposal?

The best way to prolong the life of your garbage disposal is to run cold water while using it, know what food can go down it, and clean it with citrus fruit and boiling water. Another method is to run the disposal when empty to dislodge any food particles.

No More Leaks

Most leaks can be fixed by tightening up connections, replacing worn gaskets or getting new drain pipes. However, if your garbage disposal is leaking from the unit or from the reset button, it’s probably near the end of its life. Time for a new garbage disposal unit. If you’re looking for recommendations, check out our list of the best garbage disposals.

To prevent further leaks, always read the manufacturer’s advice and use your disposal accordingly.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!