A garbage disposal is a handy device to have in the kitchen and makes clean up easy. Here’s how to save some money by learning how to replace a garbage disposal on your own.
If your home was built in the last 50 years, there’s a good chance that you have a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals make kitchen cleanup a lot easier and can help to reduce the amount of waste you throw out.
Even if you take good care of your garbage disposal, a time will come when you’ll need to replace it. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to replace a garbage disposal. Whether you like doing DIY projects around the house or want to save some money, we’ll show you how.
4 Signs That It May Be Time To Replace a Garbage Disposal
The average lifespan of a garbage disposal is about 15 years. But depending on the quality of the disposal, it may wear out sooner or later than that. How long it lasts also depends on how often you use it, and if you care for it properly.
In most cases, your garbage disposal will last long after the warranty goes out of effect.
How do you know if you need a new garbage disposal? The most obvious signs are that it no longer works or if it leaks under the sink, but other telltale signs let you know that you might want to start shopping around for a replacement.
1. It Doesn’t Work As Efficiently
It’s not uncommon for a garbage disposal to become clogged on occasion. You need to run water during and after use and avoid the kinds of food that clog garbage disposals. These include coffee grounds, pasta, rice, onion skins, celery, and grease. But if you do everything right and it still clogs up, it’s probably time for a new one.
Also, If it takes longer than usual to grind up the food, your disposal blades may be getting dull. That means it’s only a matter of time before you will need a new unit.
2. Frequent Resets
Like the occasional clog, it’s not uncommon to need to use the reset button now and then. If you find that you use the reset button every time that you use the disposal, there’s a good chance that your motor is no longer working correctly and you should start looking at new disposals.
3. Smells That Won’t Go Away
If you take the time to clean your disposal and care for it properly, you should never notice any lingering smells. If you keep trying to get rid of odors that won’t leave, a replacement may be your best option.
4, You’re Updating Your Kitchen
Are you planning a kitchen remodel? Or even just a facelift? If you’re putting in new cabinets, counters, appliances, or floors, you may want to consider updating your disposal as well. Not only will it be easier to replace when your kitchen is in update mode, but it will save you the hassle later.
Here’s a video with just a few ways to tell it’s time to replace a garbage disposal.
Some Things To Consider Before You Replace A Garbage Disposal
Once you determine that you need a new disposal, there are a few things to consider before you go out and buy a new one.
While our primary goal is to tell you how to replace a garbage disposal, you should make sure that you’re up to the task. These days it’s a relatively easy DIY project, but make sure have a few hours set aside and another person to help (if possible).
When you’re shopping around for a garbage disposal, it’s a good idea to do some online research before you head to your local hardware and home store. Read peer reviews, look for warranties, and be prepared to invest a little money in a high-quality disposal.
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Here’s one of the nice things about learning how to replace a garbage disposal on your own: You can save hundreds of dollars. So why not spring for a better and slightly more expensive disposal?
Before you get started, make sure you have all the tools and parts that you need and always have the installation manual handy. You will most likely need slip-joint pliers, flat-head screwdriver, hammer, plumber’s putty, and mounting screws.
Uninstalling Your Old Garbage Disposal
Before learning how to replace a garbage disposal, we need to remove the old one. When you’re ready to uninstall your old disposal, you can follow these step-by-step directions; keep in mind that the instructions may vary slightly due to your disposal.
- Unplug your garbage disposal so you don’t electrocute yourself.
- Take out the drain trap that connects your garbage disposal to your drain pipe.
- Remove the two trap nuts with pliers, then pull the pipe out.
- If you have a dishwasher, disconnect its drain line from the garbage disposal.
- With pliers, detach the dishwasher tube from the garbage disposal.
Here’s a video with some easy-to-follow instructions on how to remove an old garbage disposal..
How to Replace a Garbage Disposal
Now that you’ve purchased a replacement disposal, it’s time to install it; don’t take out the old one until you’re ready for the new one. While the installation steps may vary from one model to the next, we will discuss some of the basic steps on how to replace a garbage disposal.
Here are the steps for how to replace a garbage disposal.
Step 1: Keep The Power To Turned Off
The last thing you need to worry about is an unexpected and dangerous zap from your disposal. Keep the power turned off after you have safely removed the old garbage disposal.
Step 2: Installing The New Drain Assembly
Even if your old drain seems like it’s in relatively good shape, you’ll probably want to install a new drain. With a ten-inch long and half-inch thick piece of putty, put it on the underside of the drain. Now you can use firm pressure to put the new drain into the hole in the sink; the drain should come in solid contact with the putty.
Next, you will slide the washer and the backup ring onto the drain spud, followed by the mounting flange and retaining ring. The ring should snap onto the drain spud. After all of those pieces are in place, tighten the bolts until you see most of the putty seep out and the drain feels snug; tighten more if necessary.
Step 3: Work On The Wiring
Since the space beneath the sink is often cramped and poorly lit, it’s best to wire the new disposal before installing it. You should be able to thread the box of the old connector into the base of the new disposal.
Remember, power should still be off at this point; it doesn’t hurt to double check before proceeding with this step.
After bringing the circuit wires and conduit into the connector, secure the conduit. Connect the wires, splicing white to white, black to black, and then secure with wire nuts. You can connect the ground wire to the green screw on the garbage disposal and replace the cover.
Step 4: Putting In The New Disposal
When you’re ready to put in the new disposal, it might be easier if you have someone helping you as the disposal may be a bit heavy. Lift the disposal up to the drain and make sure the tabs are lined up with the mounting ring.
Step 5: Plumbing The Drain Outlet
Before you can use your disposal you need to make sure you have the plumbing properly connected. Fit the rubber washer over the flanged end of the plastic crosspiece, sliding the metal flange on from the opposite end.
The bottom of the metal flange should fit into its slot in the disposal and be sure to tighten the fastening bolt. Make sure that the threads in the bolts and pieces are lined up. Next, trim the crosspiece to the right length and connect it to the drain tee, then install the P trap.
Here’s a video from How2Plumb on how to replace a garbage disposal.
Testing Out The Install
Before you can use your new garbage disposal, you need to test for water tightness and look for any leaks. Plug the sink, fill with water, and then drain it while looking for any signs of leaking. Tighten and adjust parts if necessary.
If you notice any issues with your garbage disposal, follow the troubleshooting tips in the manual or call the manufacturer’s customer service.
Tips For Caring For Your Disposal
Now that you’ve learned how to replace a garbage disposal, it’s essential to take the proper steps to keep the new one in good shape, and possibly extend its life. Whether you are first-time garbage disposal user or need some friendly reminders, here are some do’s and don’ts of using a garbage disposal.
1. A Disposal Is Not A Garbage Can
Your new disposal may be heavy duty and ready to take on any kitchen mess but remember, it’s not a garbage compactor. Only biodegradable food scraps should go in your garbage disposal. Avoid fats, oils, and bones; if you are ever in doubt, opt to throw the item in the trash instead.
Keep the food pieces small and avoid trying to overload your disposal with too many foods at once as this will leave you dealing with a clogged disposal.
2. Know How To Run Your Garbage Disposal
Believe it or not, there’s a right way to use your disposal. The first step is to run water into the disposal (cold is always best). After you turn on the disposal, with the water still running, you can start to slowly food into the disposal. Don’t overload it or stuff the disposal with food scraps.
Keep the disposal running until all the food is gone (about 30 seconds) and turn it off. Allow the water to run for about 20 seconds to clean out the drain.
3, Keep It Clean
While flushing the drain with water should keep your disposal relatively clean, you can try sprinkling baking soda or toss citrus and ice cubes down the disposal every so often. Avoid using cleaners or bleach in the disposal.
Here’s a video on how to take care of your garbage disposal.
Featured image: CC by SA 3.0 S.J. de Ward via Wikimedia Commons.