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How to Disconnect a Garbage Disposal

Man under sink repairing garbage disposal

Garbage disposal, without any doubt, is one of the hardest working appliances in the kitchen. But eventually, the time will come for you to say goodbye to your garbage disposal.

There are various reasons to disconnect garbage disposal from your kitchen sink.

  • Garbage disposals wear out after years of use and you need to install a new one.
  • You are tired of maintaining the garbage disposal and want a disposal free setup.
  • You are moving to a new place and want to get rid of it permanently.

Disconnecting garbage disposal can turn out to be an expensive affair if you hire a plumber. Doing this job yourself can save you money and it is pretty much a straightforward process. You do not need any special electrical or plumbing skills.

With the help of a few tools and completing a few steps, you will be able to disconnect the garbage disposal in no time and at a minimal cost.

Let us get to it.

Materials and Tools Needed to Disconnect Garbage Disposal

Midsection view of man wearing plumbers tool belt
  • Bucket
  • Towel
  • Cardboard Box
  • Screwdriver
  • Hex Key/Allen Wrench
  • Groove Pliers
  • Voltage Tester Pen

Steps to Disconnect Garbage Disposal

Person flipping a breaker

Step 1 – Before Getting Started

Before you start disconnecting your garbage disposal, make sure to shut off the power supply from the circuit breaker or main electrical service panel also shut off the valves to stop the water supply. To make sure that the power supply is disconnected, you can place a voltage tester pen on the disposal’s wire. If it lights up, the power is still there.

Try the same step again, if the power is still there then do not try to do it yourself until you are sure of what you are doing.  Call an electrician instead.

If you do not want to get electrocuted, then do not start disconnecting the garbage disposal until you are certain the power has been disconnected.

Step 2 – Remove Drain Pipe

person using a pipe wrench to remove a pipe from under a sink

Our next step is to remove the drain pipe. Locate the pipe and use the pliers to lose the connectors at each end of the trap bend (It is a u-shaped pipe that connects the garbage disposal to the drain). Disconnect the connectors and pull the pipe straight down to remove it from the disposal.

Be careful not to bend or crack the plastic fitting while removing it and allow any remaining water to drain out of the pipe into the bucket.

Place a bucket or a towel under the drain trap to collect the water that drains from the pipes.

Step 3 – Remove the Dishwasher Drain Line (If Needed)

If you have a dishwasher connected to your garbage disposal, you have to remove the dishwasher drain hose. Use the pliers to loosen the clamp and if the clamp has a screw-drive then loosen it with a screwdriver and slip off the clamp.

Place the towel or bucket in case of water leakage.

Step 4 – Removing the Power Cord

Power cord on white background

If your garbage disposal is hardwired, then you must remove the power cord before disconnecting the garbage disposal. Double-check to make sure all your power is off, only then you should mess with the electric wires.

Locate the metal plate protecting the wires at the bottom of the garbage disposal and remove it with the help of a screwdriver. Now, unscrew the ground wire and disconnect all the power wires.  The strain relief insulator holds all the wire inside the garbage disposal. Unscrew it using a screwdriver and pull out the wire.

Your garbage disposal is successfully disconnected, and it is now safe to turn the circuit breaker switch on.

Step 5 – Disconnect the Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposal on white background

Garbage disposal is a heavy appliance, once disconnected it will fall and could hurt you or damage the kitchen floor. So before disconnecting it make sure you have something underneath to catch like a cardboard box or bucket placed upside down.

The garbage disposal is attached to the sink drain with a mounting bracket. Take the screwdriver shaft or hex key and insert it in one of the loops of the lower mounting ring and start turning it counterclockwise. It will start to turn, sometimes you may have to apply some force to get it to move. The garbage disposal will start to drop down right there.

Step 6 – Removing the Mounting Assembly (Optional)

If you are planning to replace the old garbage disposal with a new one, then there is no need to remove the mounting assembly. But if you plan to remove the disposal entirely then you will need to remove the mounting assembly.

To remove it, loosen the three screws between the upper and lower mounting rings, loosen them evenly not one at a time. Now remove a flat head screwdriver to remove the ring.  Once the ring is removed remove the upper and lower mountain rings as well. Push up the sink flange to break the plumber’s putty seal with the sink, then lift out the flange from the top side of the sink.

Clean around the opening of the sing with a rag to remove the old plumber’s putty.

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