How to Check if My Garbage Disposal is Leaking

How to Check if My Garbage Disposal is Leaking

You open the cabinet underneath your kitchen sink to grab your favorite cleaner. That’s when you notice it — a puddle of water. Just what you need: a kitchen plumbing problem. Your head starts to ache as it spins with questions. Where is the leak coming from? How do I fix it? Is it going to be expensive? Before you let the anxiety settle in, take a breath and find the source of the leak. If you don’t notice any dripping around the main pipe, it could be related to your garbage disposal system. Here’s how to check if your garbage disposal is leaking.

How to Find the Source of a Garbage Disposal Leak

Even if you suspect that your garbage disposal is the source of the leak, there are a few different places it could be forming. Follow these steps to figure out where your garbage disposal is leaking:

Shut the Power Off

Turn off your garbage disposal and unplug it from the wall. Then cut the power from the breaker box. This will eliminate the risk of electric shock.

Plug up the Sink

Find a watertight sink stopper to plug up the sink. Using a clean cloth, dry up any water around the drain, the garbage disposal unit, and surrounding pipes.

Pour Colored Water

Mix a few drops of food coloring in a cup of water and pour it over the sink stopper.


Find a flashlight and a light-colored rag. Use these tools to find the source of the leak underneath the sink. Wipe around the top, sides, and bottom of the garbage disposal. If you encounter the colored liquid on a particular part of the unit, that’s the source of your leak.

Remove the Stopper and Pour More Colored Water

If you couldn’t find any escaping liquid, try removing the sink stopper and pouring a few more cups of colored water directly into the drain. Investigate again. You’re more likely to find leaks at the sides or bottom this way.

How to Fix a Leaky Garbage Disposal

Now that you’ve uncovered the source of your kitchen sink leak, you’ll need to fix your garbage disposal:

Sink Flange

When the leak originates at the top (where your sink drain and disposal meet), the sink flange is probably low on plumber’s putty. Simply unplug your unit and unscrew the mounting screw that connects it to the sink. Pull the drain out and add some fresh plumber’s putty. Easy fix!


If the leak forms around the side of the unit, it could be the drainpipe (where all the wastewater exists). Locate the larger pipe on the side of the garbage disposal. Unscrew the pipe and replace the gasket if it looks worn out. Make sure to tighten the screws well when you reattach the drainpipe.

Dishwasher Hose

If you have a dishwasher, the hose is probably connected to the side of the garbage disposal. Is this where your leak is? You may need to tighten the metal clamp that secures the hose to the unit. If the hose is damaged, replace it with a new one.

Bottom of the Unit

If the leak is coming from the bottom of your unit, you’re out of luck. Your garbage disposal has reached its expiration date. Thankfully, replacing your garbage disposal is a fairly straightforward task.

Leaky Garbage Disposal? Call Stephens Plumbing

If you’re experiencing a kitchen sink leak, don’t panic. Our experienced and knowledgeable plumbers can take the stress out of the task. Even with proper care, garbage disposals are known to leak from time to time. The professionals at Stephens Plumbing can figure out the source of your leak and fix it the right way, no matter how complex. If you live in the South Bay or Orange County, give us a call today.