That flappy rubber gasket around your garbage disposal drain can last for years if you clean it regularly and only use your disposal sparingly. But when it becomes cracked or brittle, there’s no excuse not to go ahead and replace it. New gaskets usually cost less than $10 at your local hardware store, and the job can be done in fifteen minutes or less.
Get Ready to Work
To begin, all you need is a bucket, a replacement splash guard and a screwdriver. Whether you need a flathead or Phillips head screwdriver depends on the types of screws used to connect the drain pipe and dishwasher line to the side of the disposal. Check this before you begin, and while you’re under the sink, clear out everything in the cabinet so that you have space to work.
Next, disconnect the disposal from its power source. Many disposals have a cord that plugs into an outlet under the sink -- unplug it and it’s safe to work. If your disposal is hardwired, go to your breaker box and flip the breaker switch for the disposal. Test your disposal to ensure it’s disconnected.
Finally, enlist the help of a friend or family member if one is available to help reattach the disposal at the end of the process. One person can do this alone, but it’s a lot easier with a second set of hands.
Disconnect the Disposal
Start by disconnecting the drain pipe, usually made of plastic or metal, that extends from your disposal to the wastewater line. This is usually connected with two or more screws. If you have a second line connecting the disposal to the dishwasher, remove that connection as well. But keep in mind that there may be water in these lines, so position the bucket underneath and be prepared for splashdown when you initially remove them.
Next, you’ll need to loosen the locking ring that attaches the disposal to its mount. Slide your screwdriver into one of the tube-shaped fittings around the edges of the ring and use it as leverage to turn the ring counter-clockwise. It might take some effort to get it moving, but once it’s loose enough to turn with one hand, move your other hand to support the bottom of the disposal. When you’ve fully loosened the ring, the disposal will drop straight down. Set it on the floor of the cabinet.
Replace the Splash Guard
This is the easy part. The splash guard fits snugly on top of the disposal like a plastic lid on a can of peanuts. Just peel the old one off, wipe the top of the disposal clean, and snap the new one on.
Reconnecting the Disposal
This is the tricky part: holding the heavy disposal in place while you tighten the locking ring with the screwdriver. If someone is available to hold the disposal while you take care of tightening the ring, that’s ideal. If you lie on your back underneath the sink, it may make it easier to reconnect the disposal on your own. You can also stack books or other sturdy objects underneath the disposal to prop it into place.
With the disposal firmly reattached, simply reconnect the drain and dishwasher lines, then reconnect the power. Flip the switch to make sure everything’s working as it should.
And that’s that! Clean your new splash guard regularly and it will stay like-new for months or years.
Need help with more than just a splash guard? There’s no substitute for a trained, licensed expert, so call your Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to request service whenever you need a job done right.