GARBAGE DISPOSAL LEAK THWARTED BY ANTS
She had not remodeled by choice a year and a half ago… but because her ice maker line sprung a pin hole leak that turned into the flood of the century for her. Her cabinets, made out of particle board, immediately swelled up and the cabinets were a total loss.
If it were not for those pesky ants, this could have been an instant replay two years later.
While searching for ant killer (sorry ants) in the cabinet under the sink, she reached in only to find every package was wet… but the ant killer was NOT leaking. Lucky for her, the ant killer was in a bucket, so the water did not damage the cabinets.
WHERE WAS THE WATER COMING FROM?
Under-sink leaks can do a lot of damage. The water can be coming from the drainpipes, the supply hoses, the garbage disposal or even the faucet itself. The source is usually apparent as soon as you crawl under the sink with a flashlight.
In my mother-in-law’s case, it was her garbage disposal.
DISPOSAL COULD HAVE MULTIPLE LEAK LOCATIONS
While the water draining from your disposal may look like it’s coming out right from the bottom, sometimes that’s not the case.
The leak could be coming from one of 5 common areas, as pictured here:
- The sink flange — where the sink and the disposal unit directly connect
- The dishwasher hose — where the hose and the disposal connect
- The drain — where the drainage pipe and the disposal connect
- The bottom — water actually draining from the very bottom of the disposal
- The sides – if the disposal has rusted or corroded
FINDING THE SOURCE OF THE LEAK
- Unplug your garbage disposal. If the area around the electrical socket is in any way damp, turn off the breaker for that section of the house beforehand. Don’t risk getting shocked.
- Remove everything from under the sink and place a bucket, deep-bottom pan, or small trash can underneath the disposal to catch any water that may come out. No sense cleaning up twice.
- Get the plug for your sink and place it in the drain.
- Fill the sink with water until it’s a little less than halfway full (not even close to a majority of this will be coming out of the leak, don’t worry). Then, place a few drops of food coloring in the water. The color doesn’t matter, just so long as it makes the water stand out against the black of your disposal unit.
- Observe if there are any leaks coming from under the sink. If there are, you’ve found the problem: the sink flange.
- If there are no visible leaks, remove the plug from the sink and use a flashlight to observe where the water is coming from (checking the 4 places in the image above).
PROBLEMS AND FIXES
1 THE SINK FLANGE
Likely problem: If the leak is visible before you unplug the drain, it usually means the seal between the sink and disposal has broken.
Fix: You need to detach the disposal from the sink, remove the plumber’s putty and then reseal the flange.
2 & 3 THE DISHWASHER HOSE
Likely problem: The seal between the disposal and one of these lines is likely broken.
Fix: You’ll need to replace the seal. This will vary depending on the disposal unit you have and the plumbing in your home.
4 DISPOSAL BOTTOM
Likely problem: Broken seals inside of the garbage disposal itself.
Fix: You can replace the seals inside of the disposal. However, if one is broken now, it won’t be long before another wears out and needs to be replaced. So it’s usually more economical and easier to replace the garbage disposal.
5 CORRODED DISPOSAL
Fix: You’ll need to replace the disposal
DO NOT ATTEMPT REPAIRS YOURSELF IF YOU ARE UNSURE WHAT TO DO! CALL A LICENSED PLUMBER!!!
PREVENTING A FLOOD
If you can, place the items under your sink in a bucket or water proof container
My mother-in-law averted a disaster because her items were organized in a water proof container. Yes, it had water in it, but the water never touched her cabinets.
Periodically check for leaks.
Every month (or week) check under you sink to make sure there are no leaks. This is as simple as looking with a flashlight, running your hands under the cabinet, or checking the bucket (see the above suggestion) to ensure there is no water in it.
If you are not as lucky as my mother-in-law was and have a flood:
- Turn off your water
- Contact your insurance company and call a water extraction service
- If need be, contact a public adjuster
and then, when you are ready to have your house put back together and want a professional remodeling experience, contact your local design-build contractor, Leading Edge Homes. Inc. Want to see some of our work? Visit our website or view our online book.
For all of your home remodeling and inspection needs, contact your local certified “roomologist”, Leading Edge Homes. Inc. at 561-795-2551.
Todd Perry, a State of Florida Certified Building Contractor and president of Leading Edge Homes, Inc., provided this information.
If you have questions about a home improvement project, call Leading Edge Homes at 561-795-2551 or email Todd at: firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll be happy to share his knowledge with you.