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DIY Garbage Disposal Replacement


Almost every American home has a garbage disposal and often they fail to operate properly. Sometimes they are just jammed and on other occasions they have failed. If yours has stopped operating, first check the breaker in your electrical panel, made sure it is not tripped. Next try using the reset button on the bottom, if you here the motor buzzing the unit is jammed, use the supplied wrench to free up the jammed chamber, if all these efforts fail its time for a replacement.

Which Disposal to Choose:


If your current disposer had a relatively short life (three years or less) consider upgrading to a better model when replacing it. Most standard model disposers have a 1/3 horsepower motor, and a single steel grinding chamber. Upgraded High Performance models offer a ½ or ¾ horsepower motor and a multi-stage stainless steel grinding chamber (which helps prevent jams) is rust proof and very durable. They are also much quieter with sound insulation on the body.

Standard Garbage Disposal

High Performance Stainless Steel Disposal


Let’s take a look at how to replace your disposal:


1.      Turn off the breaker to the disposal circuit, (if the disposer is inoperative, test the circuit with a voltage tester to assure it is off) disconnect the wires if hard wired or remove the plug from the outlet if it has a cord.


2.      Move the faucet spout to the opposite bowl in the sink, this will prevent anyone from turning on the water with the disposer removed and showering you with water or creating a mess. If you have a single bowl sink turn off the water to the faucet temporarily while replacing the disposal.


3.      Place a drain pan below the disposer to capture any water left in the attached lines. Disconnect the dishwasher drain hose from the side port of the disposer (if one is attached) and remove the p-trap and drain lines. Removing the p-trap allows you more room to work, this also allows you to clean out any debris in the p-trap before reinstalling it.

     Dishwasher Drain Connection

     P-Trap and Drain Connections


4.      Loosen the mounting clamp for the disposer, this could be a locking ring with screws or a rotating lock ring.


5.      Carefully lower the disposal from the mounting allowing any excess water to drain into the pan you placed below the disposer.


6.      If you purchased the same brand disposal, you may use the existing sink strainer/mounting for the new disposal. If not, you will need to remove the old strainer/mount and install the new strainer/mount supplied with the new disposal. Most manufacturers recommend using plumbers putty to seal the strainer/mount in the sink opening, however silicone caulk works much better.


7.      If you are using a cord with the new disposal, now is the time to install it, turn the dispose upside down and remove the cover for the electrical connections, install the wire clamp and the cord, attach the cord to the wire connections for the disposal with wire nuts and replace the cover. Doing this now is a lot easier than trying to attach the cord with the disposal in place under the sink.

     Electrical Hard Wire or Cord Connections

8.      Now is also a good time to knock out the dishwasher drain plug in the side of the disposal, if the plug is not removed, and your dishwasher drain hose is attached, the dishwasher will not drain. Be sure to remove the plug you punched out from the disposer body before installing the disposal. If you do not have a dishwasher or if the dishwasher drain line is attached to the opposite sink drain Do Not remove the plug.

   Dishwasher Drain Plug Knockout

9.      Next carefully place the disposal up against the sink strainer/mount and attach the mounting bracket and screws or rotate the locking ring to hold it in place. Install the p-trap and drain lines to the body and attach the dishwasher drain hose to the side port. Make sure all of the connections are properly aligned and tight. Return the faucet spout to the disposal side of the sink and run some water to test the connections prior to operating the disposal.

10.   Plug in the cord to the outlet or make the final wire connections if it is hard wired. Turn on the circuit breaker for the circuit and test the disposals operation. Double check for leaks and you’re ready to use your new disposal!




A bit of advice for those who have had bad luck with disposals in the past, dishwasher detergent will shorten the life of your disposal if the dishwashers drain line is attached to it. This constant bath of water and dishwasher detergent corrodes the disposals interior. I had constant trouble with this corrosion problem until I switched the dishwasher drain to the opposite sink.

     Dishwasher ' Y ' Connector

You can purchase a disposal 'Y' to install in the opposite sink drain line and then attach the dishwashers line to it. This will dramatically improve the life of your disposal. If you go this route, be sure you Do Not remove the new disposals dishwasher drain line plug.

If all this seems to much for you or your free time is limited, our Home Services Division can install it for you!  Just give them a call at 1-800-557-5221.



Mike, The Home Depot Answer Man

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Posted 2016-11-29T02:39:31+0000  by Mike_HD_OC Mike_HD_OC