Garbage disposals make kitchen work simpler, and they're now in millions of homes across the country. You will need to remove your garbage disposal from time to time, and this is a fairly easy DIY job but will take some time. You'll need to make sure you have all the right tools and a step-by-step guide; otherwise, you might end up damaging your sink.
In this guide, we'll help explain when you might need to disconnect your disposal and how to remove a garbage disposal from your sink.
Wait! Do You Really Need To Remove It? (Try These Simple Fixes First)
Removing your garbage disposal isn’t too challenging, especially if you’re experienced with DIY, but that doesn’t mean you should do it unless you really need to. There are some steps you can take first to understand if your garbage disposal is broken and if you need to remove it at all.
Using Your Reset Button
If your garbage disposal won’t work, then it doesn't necessarily mean it's broken. It usually means your circuit has tripped, and power isn't reaching the device. The reset button will usually allow you to reset the disposal and get it working again. The reset button is usually red and located on the base of the disposal. This can be a simple fix, but it won't work every time.
Manually Resetting Your Disposal
If your disposal has stopped working, then it can often be because of a blockage. Simply resetting it using the button won't work; you'll have to use a different technique. Take an Allen wrench and slide it into the central hole at the base of the device.
Rotate this clockwise, pushing if you meet resistance until you can twist it round fully. You may have to jiggle the wrench or repeat this process a few times, but it should reset the device.
If your garbage disposal has started to smell, it doesn't necessarily mean it's broken or needs to be replaced. Start by running cold water through the disposal for a few minutes to try and remove any blockages. Feed some citrus peel into the disposal and the acidic nature of the fruit should help dissolve any food particles in the device and give a fresh scent.
Finally, look for specialist garbage disposal cleaners and use them to help clean your device. If you still notice a problem afterward, you may need to disconnect the disposal to get to the root cause of the issue.
How To Temporarily Remove A Garbage Disposal Main Unit
There are two main reasons for removing a garbage disposal. You are either removing it to replace it or removing it entirely from your kitchen sink. We’ll start by covering how to remove a garbage disposal’s main unit so you can install a new model in the same space.
Before you start, make sure you have some pliers, towels, and a bucket handy. Also, make sure you have a clear space and somewhere to store all the different attachments as you'll need them to install your new disposal into the same space.
1. Shut Off Your Power
Start by turning off your electricity and water supply. Make sure you turn off the circuit breaker and unplug the device to avoid any risk of injury.
You should also read over the instruction manual before starting to make sure your disposal does require any special instructions.
2. Support The Weight
Your garbage disposal can be heavy, and you may not be able to catch it with one hand. Use a paint can or scraps of wood to support the device before you start disconnecting anything.
3. Place A Bucket Under The Waste Pipe
Even though your water will be turned off, there may still be some water left in the pipes. Place a bucket under the waste pipe to catch any wastewater that might fall out.
4. Loosen The Hose Clamp (if connected to a dishwasher)
If your garbage disposal is connected to your dishwasher, then there will be a hose attached to the side. Locate the clamp on the hose and loosen it so you can safely remove the pipe.
5. Remove The P-Trap Fittings
Your garbage disposal connects to your sewage system via the P-Trap. Use your pliers to loosen the nut connecting the pipe to your garbage disposal and then lift it away from the device. Make sure you keep all connections as this will connect to your new disposal.
6. Remove The Disposal
Finally, remove the disposal from the connection under the sink. Some will screw directly into a flange under the sink, while others will have a snap ring. Use a screwdriver to loosen the device or pry it out from underneath your sink. Make sure you keep it stable and supported while you lift it out.
7. Detach The Mounting Assembly (optional)
If your new garbage disposal has a different mounting assembly, then you may need to remove this too. Start by using a screwdriver to loosen the 3 mounting screws on the ring underneath the sink. Remove the ring, sink sleeve, flange, and gasket. This should complete the removal of the old garbage disposal.
8. Install Your New Garbage Disposal
You should now be able to install your new garbage disposal. Follow the manufacturer's instructions closely and reconnect all the different pipes you removed in steps 4-7.
9. Test The Disposal
Turn your power and water back on and test the garbage disposal. Watch closely for any leaks or issues and, if needed, consult a professional.
How To Remove & Uninstall A Garbage Disposal Entirely
If you have decided to completely remove the device, then there are a few extra steps you'll need to take. You will have to make sure that all the connections and different components are removed, or they can disrupt your plumbing.
You should make sure you have a plumbers wrench, plumbers putty, putty knife, screwdriver, bucket, and towels. You will then need to make sure all water and electricity are turned off before following these steps:
1. Removing Garbage Disposal Bracket
If you've followed the steps above, you should have removed your disposal, but you may not have removed the bracket. Do this by using a screwdriver to loosen the 3 screws holding the bracket in place.
Once you've undone them, use the flat head of the screwdriver to gently pry it away from the sink. Make sure you take all the connections out of the way so you can remove the different parts of the drain connection next.
2. Removing Garbage Disposal Collar
Your garbage disposal collar is located just underneath the drain of your sink. Now you've removed the disposal bracket, this collar should lift straight off from underneath the sink. In some cases, you may need to pry this away using the screwdriver head.
3. Removing Garbage Disposal Splash Guard
Your splash guard will sit on the top of the garbage disposal surrounding the connection to your drain. This may come away when you lift the garbage disposal from the underneath of the sink, but if it is connected to the drain, you should be able to use a screwdriver to pry it loose. Make sure your mounting bracket is completely disconnected, as this will secure the splash guard in place.
4. Removing Garbage Disposal Drain
Once you've removed the garbage disposal following the instructions in the last section, you'll need to remove the drain connection. Loosen the drain nut in the center of the drain connection using a plumbers wrench. Once this is loosened, you should just be able to push it up to be lifted out.
5. Removing Garbage Disposal Flange
Once your disposal drain has been lifted away, you can remove the flange using your hands. Use a putty knife to scrape away any old putty which is around the edge of the plughole.
6. Disconnecting Electrical Wires
Many modern garbage disposals have a plug attached to the device, which plugs directly into an outlet. If this is the case, you should just be able to unplug it and lift it away with the device.
In some cases, the garbage disposal is wired directly into your electricity, and you'll need to take a few more steps. Start by disconnecting the wires from your disposal. Use a screwdriver to remove the metal plate on the side of the disposal.
Unscrew the ground wire and then disconnect each of the power wires until there are no more connections into your garbage disposal. It's now safe for you to disconnect these wires from the rest of the electrics in your house. Depending on the connection, you may just be able to remove it and seal up the wall, but you may need to consult a professional.
Always remember that when dealing with electronics, you need to turn off your power at the breaker. You should get a professional electrician involved when doing any work that involves your home electrics, as this can be dangerous.
7. Disconnecting From A Dishwasher
As discussed in the previous section, use your pliers to loosen the clamp on the pipe connecting the garbage disposal to the dishwasher. The clamp should then lift off, and you'll be able to pull the pipe away from the disposal. Next, use a towel or bucket to catch any excess moisture which may come out of the pipe.
You can now remove this connecting pipe or hose altogether. Make sure you replace this with a seal on the dishwasher end so that no water flows out into your kitchen cupboard.
Re-Installing The Original Sink Drain: Step-By-Step Guide
If you've decided to remove your garbage disposal and not replace it with another one, then you will need to put your original sink drain and plumbing back in. This is reasonably straightforward, but you need to ensure you have it all completed securely, or you'll end up with a leaky sink.
You’ll need to go and purchase a basket strainer, drain tailpiece, trap, and a continuous waste pipe to fit in your sink. You’ll also need some plumbers putty, a plumbers wrench, pliers, screwdriver, hacksaw, and some towels.
Basket Strainer Installation
A basket strainer goes in the sink drain. Start by applying a ring of plumbers putty around the top of the drain hole. Fit the strainer into the top of the sink opening and make sure it's all centered. Place the washer on the bottom of the basket strainer and then the mounting clip.
Thread on the mounting nut and use some pliers to secure it in place and hold the bits together. All of these elements should come with the basket strainer, and there may be specific instructions that come with your strainer.
Drain Tailpiece Installation
Fit your tailpiece to the bottom of the strainer and secure it in place using the washer and slip nut, using the pliers to tighten it up. If you do have a dishwasher, then you need to make sure you have a flanged branch tailpiece with a fitting for your dishwasher hose. Secure the hose onto this connection and use a clamp to hold it securely in place.
Continuous Waste Pipe Installation
Your continuous waste pipe fits underneath the tailpiece and will go horizontally into your waste line. Start by measuring the pipe to reach from the bottom of the tailpiece to the drain assembly.
Cut this to the correct length using the hacksaw and then fit, using slip nuts to hold it in place. The curved end will fit into your tailpiece and the straight end into your drain assembly. Remember, your continuous waste pipe needs a slight slope to the drain assembly so that water drains correctly.
Finally, you need to reassemble the trap at the bottom of the drain assembly. This is the P-shaped pipe that helps to regulate the pressure and stop harmful gases from going back up into your home. Fit the curved end into the drain assembly and then the straight pipe into the drain line. Use slip nuts to hold it in place and make sure they are all secure.
You should take some time now to test the device. Fill up your sinks with water and then open the plug to check how it flows. Look closely for any leaks or drips and tighten the pipes as needed. If there continues to be a problem, then you should get a professional plumber to help you out.
Bonus: How To Remove A Badger 5 Garbage Disposal
The InSinkErator Badger series is one of the most popular on the market. The Badger 5 is an excellent disposal, and we've given some special instructions on how to remove it because there are a few nuances:
1. Disconnect The Power Supply
Start by turning off the power at the circuit. The Badger 5 is wired into the unit, so you’ll need to locate the wiring cover plate on the side of the device.
Use a screwdriver to open it up and unscrew the ground wire.
You should be able to lift the other wires out and disconnect them.
2. Remove The Dishwasher Connection
Make sure the water supply is turned off, and you have towels laid out to catch the moisture. If you have a dishwasher connection, locate the hose coming in and use pliers to loosen the hose clamp. You should then be able to lift the hose away. Try to drain this into a bucket.
3. Remove The Drainpipe
Use pliers to loosen the nuts and then pull the pipe away from the device.
4. Unscrew The Disposal
Now you've removed the pipes and wires, you can unscrew the Badger 5. Rotate the device 3 times to loosen it and then lift it free. Make sure you have a hand free to catch the device, or a friend to help you.
The InSinkErator Badger 5 should now be disconnected, and you'll be ready to fit another disposal in its place. Always look to the user manual when removing a garbage disposal, as there can be specific instructions. You can find the Badger 5 manual here.
Common Garbage Disposal Questions
How much does it cost to remove garbage disposal and return to the original sink drain?
If you're doing this yourself, it will probably cost you $100-200 for the different parts and pipes. If you’re paying a professional, you should expect to pay about $500-750.
Who can replace a garbage disposal?
Anyone can replace a garbage disposal, and you don't need to hire a professional to help you. However, if you are going to be doing electrical work, you may want to hire an electrician as it can become costly if you get it wrong, and you can risk injury doing it yourself.
How long does it take to remove a garbage disposal?
You can finish the work in 2-3 hours as long as nothing goes wrong. Allow slightly longer if you don’t have much experience.
What’s the difference between removing or replacing your disposal?
When removing your disposal entirely, you need to get rid of all of the components and fittings and then reassemble the plumbing underneath your sink so you can use it again. If you are just replacing your garbage disposal, you can normally leave a lot of the connections and brackets because your new disposal will just slot into the place of the old one. It's, therefore, more work and more complicated to completely remove a garbage disposal.
If you own a garbage disposal, then at some point, you will probably need to disconnect it. It can be a daunting task, but it's actually not too challenging, and anyone should be able to do it.
Make sure you know if you're replacing or removing the disposal before you start because there are different pipes and tools you'll need, and a different process to follow. You should also make sure you follow the instruction manual that's relevant to your garbage disposal, as it can vary from model to model.
Matt is a freelance writer, English graduate, & keen traveler from the UK. As a specialist plumbing expert, he enjoys writing about everything there has to do with at-home plumbing products & related problems. When he isn’t writing, he’s usually drinking coffee or planning his next adventure. In his spare time, he also runs his own blog all about digital nomad life.