The garbage disposal is a small but efficient appliance inside the kitchen. It doesn’t receive the kind of recognition other appliances in the room receive, but it is especially beneficial in improving how you clean up after food preparation. Over time, your current garbage disposal will fail to function properly, which will leave you with the need to repair or replace it. There are several garbage disposal upgrade options, and while you can pay a professional to come out and service your home, it is always possible to perform the replacement on your own. You just need to know how to replace a garbage disposal.
The Inner Workings of a Garbage Disposal
The inner workings of a garbage disposal are simple and straightforward. Although there isn’t much going on internally, it can be difficult to repair a garbage disposal if there is an internal issue due to how tightly constructed the appliance is. Some basic troubleshooting suggestions and tips are always beneficial, but you need to how to replace a garbage disposal if the issue is too difficult to repair.
The disposal itself is made up of a plastic or metal shell, depending on the brand. Internally, there is a fill container. This is where the water from the sink runs down. At the base of the fill container are the blades. You’ll probably have three spinning blades installed here, although this depends on the manufacturer and model of the disposal. On either side of the fill, there are two connecting tubes. One moves from the dishwasher into the disposal. This is blocked off so water is not able to run back down (otherwise you would have sink water and food particles flooding down into the dishwasher).
The other tube leads to the main plumbing line. This runs out to connect with the larger water plumbing line of your home and takes the water and waste out to the city line or the septic tank, whichever you are connected to.
Under the fill container of the garbage disposal, there are several protective seals and rubber gaskets which are designed to prevent the flow of water down into the electrical base of the disposal. Under these seals and gaskets is the motor. The motor sends a signal up to the blades to turn on and off when activated.
The motor also connects to the power supply which connects to a power outlet in the wall. On the exterior of the appliance, you will usually find a power switch and a surge protector switch that shuts down the appliance if too much electricity attempts to make it to the device (similar to the surge protector switch you see on a bathroom or kitchen power outlet).
4 Things That Can Ruin Your Garbage Disposal
There are several things that can prevent your garbage disposal from functioning properly or lead to an eventual breakdown of your appliance. Most of these problems are associated with what you put down the disposal.
Not Running Water When Using the Disposal
One thing that may cause your garbage disposal to break down (and lead you to seek out help with how to replace a garbage disposal) is failing to run the sink water while using the disposal. While the disposal is in use, the blades will heat up, so you need to use water cool the blades down as you go. In addition to controlling the temperature of the blades, water will help prevent food particles from sticking to the blades. For these reasons, always turn the sink on when running the disposal.
Small Particles down the Drain
The garbage disposal is great for cutting up and disposing of food objects and other organic material. However, there are some items you should never put down the drain. Coffee grounds, for example, are one of the worst things you can put down the drain. The coffee grounds will stick to the blades and prevent them from turning. Eventually, you may find the disposal doesn’t work at all. Instead, all you hear is a steady hum from the disposal. This is a sign that the disposal has been corroded and the blades cannot turn. Cleaning the disposal to remove the coffee grounds will usually restore the functionality.
You should also avoid egg shells. Egg shells work in a similar way to coffee grounds. You probably already know how sticky egg shells can be. The small pieces will stick to the blades and not wash off, so avoid putting these down the drain. Anything that sticks and is difficult to wash away should never go down your disposal.
Flour, when mixed with water, turns into a glue. This will lock down your garbage disposal, so never pour any flour down the drain or dispose of dough in any way. Likewise, don’t put pasta down the drain, as the paste will absorb water and clog both your garbage disposal and your drain.
You can put soft materials in the garbage disposal, but don’t put anything hard through it. Pits of fruit, for example, should not be pushed down into the garbage disposal. You should also avoid using the disposal for thick skin from fruits like watermelon. Basically, if you can’t easily cut it with a knife, don’t expect the garbage disposal to be able to handle it.
How to Replace a Garbage Disposal
When learning how to replace a garbage disposal, you won’t need much in the way of tools. In fact, what you don’t already have, you can pick up at the grocery store for a few dollars. Everything else will come with the garbage disposal.
Removing the Current Garbage Disposal
First, turn off the power running to the kitchen. You will now want to disconnect the garbage disposal from the power outlet under the sink, from the plumbing running from the dishwasher, and from the main plumbing line. You may need a flathead screwdriver to loosen the connecting screws that secure the lines together.
It’s a good idea to clear out the area under your disposal and place a small container beneath it to collect water, as there might be some runoff from the connecting lines.
Now, take the flathead screwdriver and disconnect the tightening screws found at the top of the garbage disposal. These secure the disposal to the flange of the bottom of the sink. Once these are loose, all you need to do is pry the disposal off. It is likely adhered with plumber’s putty. When cleaned off, you can remove the disposal.
Clean off the old plumber’s putty from the under side of the sink, as you’ll need a smooth area to continue.
Installing the Garbage Disposal
The next instruction for how to replace a garbage disposal is to insert the new flange into the underside of the sink. There might be a rubber gasket included for this step to provide added protection against water leaking, but if not, don’t worry about it. When this is in place, apply a liberal amount of plumber’s putty to the bottom of the sink, then insert the replacement garbage disposal.
The garbage disposal likely has a screw-like threading on the top, or there is a connecting indentation on the lip that needs to match a protrusion on the underside of the flange. When you have fitted it properly and twisted to secure the connection, all you need to do is tighten the tightening screws (you may need the flathead screwdriver for this).
When the screws are tight, wipe away the excess plumber’s putty, which would have pushed out as you tightened the garbage disposal into position.
Testing the Disposal
The final instruction for how to replace a garbage disposal is to test out the new disposal. Now that it is installed, plug it into the power outlet, connect it to the plumbing lines, and then turn on the power running to the kitchen. Turn on the disposal to make sure it’s receiving electricity. Once this checks out, fill the sink with water and watch the underside of the sink. You need to make sure there are no wet spots on the underside of the sink around the disposal and the flange.
If there is a leak, it usually means the disposal isn’t tight enough. You will need to better secure the disposal and reapply the plumber’s putty, then continue with the testing of the garbage disposal.
There are going to be times when your garbage disposal no longer works properly. Whether it has stopped working all together or water is constantly flowing back up into the sink because the blades are not properly chopping organic material, you need to know how to replace a garbage disposal. By knowing how to replace a garbage disposal, you can restore functionality to your kitchen and your clean up routine. It’s an easy process and doesn’t take long to do. Best of all, it’s an appliance replacement that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, plus you’re able to do it on your own.