Garbage disposals typically provide years of dependable service, yet you may be faced with a disposal that has developed a leak or has stopped working and needs to be removed for repair or replacement. Removing a garbage disposal is a relatively simple and straightforward proposition well within the capabilities of the average homeowner.
Before tackling the job of removing a disposal, take a few moments to study the layout and get familiar with the various components and installation. The disposal attaches to the sink drain with a mounting flange, and you will see another flange (body flange) located immediately on top of the body of the disposal that typically has three lugs around it. There will be two plumbing connections attached, one to the drain line and another smaller connection for the drain vent. Finally, there will be a power cord, which is usually a short electrical cord that will be plugged into an electrical outlet installed in the wall beneath the sink.
Only a few basic tools are needed to remove a garbage disposal: a Phillips head screwdriver, a standard screwdriver and sometimes a pipe wrench, depending on how the plumbing lines are connected.
Disconnect the power by removing the plug from the wall. If your installation happens to be hardwired, then locate and shut off the electrical breaker supplying power to the disposal. Make certain that the power is off before proceeding.
Disconnect the plumbing lines. The drain line may be attached with a flange and screws or a normal plumbing fitting connection, which will dictate which tool you need to use. The drain vent line, commonly a flexible hose, is often attached with a hose clamp that can be removed with a standard screwdriver.
Insert the tip of a Phillips screwdriver into one of the available lugs on the body flange. Using the screwdriver for leverage, turn the flange counterclockwise to unlock it. The disposal will then drop free from the drain and flange mounting assembly. This is as far as you need to go if you are only repairing the existing disposal, such as replacing a gasket. You do not need to remove the mounting flange from the sink drain unless you are replacing the entire system with a new disposal. If that is the case, the mounting flange is easily removed by unscrewing the three mounting screws that will be clearly visible once you have lowered the disposal.
There should never be any standing water inside a disposal even if it is not working, so you need not fear any major spills from leaking water while removing one. However, to be on the safe side, it never hurts to place an absorbent towel or swallow pan beneath the work area when making plumbing-related repairs.
- Stanley Complete Basic Plumbing: Pro Tips and Simple Steps; Ken Sidney, Ed.; 2002
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