Damn you!
November 21, 2012 8:29 PM   Subscribe

THANKSGIVING PLUMBING URGENCY: Is this going to end up a big deal?

I was cleaning out my fridge of leftovers into the garbage disposal, when it stopped grinding. I've dealt with this before, so I opened up the under sink cabinet to re-set the machine when I saw it leaking. I called my husband in, and we both poked and prodded at it. It won't turn back on, and it was still leaking, so my husband unplugged it so we don't electrocute ourselves.

The big question is: am I essentially without a kitchen sink? I'm fine with the garbage disposal not working; we can fix it after the holiday, but I fear that I will end up spending my holiday emptying the bucket under the sink of disgusting water. If that's the case, I'd rather call the whole thing off and send the family to Cracker Barrel. Can anyone tell me about the inner workings of a garbage disposal, and if I don't "run" it, am I still going to have a massive leak? I am a complete plumbing newb, and this is a rental house.

I would just like to take this time to apologize to my mom, whom I was talking to on the phone when this happened. I'm sure she has never heard those words out of my mouth before. Sorry mom
posted by lizjohn to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
If it's a rental, call the landlord/property manager/super to come fix it.
posted by chiababe at 8:32 PM on November 21, 2012

Where is it leaking from? Does it make any noise when you turn it on? And, does the sink drain or not? These points of data might help folks give you some advice.
posted by HuronBob at 8:33 PM on November 21, 2012

Response by poster: If it's a rental, call the landlord/property manager/super to come fix it.
My very nice landlord lives apx. an hour away. I'm not going to call him this late about it. It's just the older gentleman who does all the fixing himself.

Where is it leaking from? Does it make any noise when you turn it on? And, does the sink drain or not? These points of data might help folks give you some advice.
-It is leaking from the very bottom of the disposal
-It does not make any noise when it is turned on
-The sink does drain
-Additionally, running water from the sink makes it leak. After the water is turned off, it stops leaking (if that is any help at all)
posted by lizjohn at 8:36 PM on November 21, 2012

I just had my disposal start leaking. Took me a while to figure out that the upper housing was cracked. A bit of epoxy would have patched it temporarily, but not having any on hand, I just put down a bucket until the replacement came. Check with a flashlight; I thought mine was leaking from the bottom as well, but it was just dripping down. (If it's an Insinkerator Badger 5, cracked housings are a known problem, judging by Amazon reviews.)

It might have shorted out from the leak; mine still worked fine. In your position, I would just put down a bucket, trusting that MOST of the water would drain properly. (Revise as necessary if that's not the case; i.e. if most of the water that goes down the drain leaks out. You can check by pouring a known quantity of water down the drain and measuring what leaks.)

Mostly I just want to help spare your family from Cracker Barrel.
posted by supercres at 8:45 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

WITH IT UNPLUGGED. Try sticking a mop handle or something in there to see if the blades spin freely. Once you get them to spin remove mop handle, press the reset button and see if it turns on.

If it does just run some water through it for a little bit and see of the leak stops.
posted by neversummer at 8:51 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look at the bottom of the disposal. There is a hex nut there. Get the proper sized allen wrench (often taped right there) insert it into the nut, and turn. It will turn the disposal manually. It'll free up the clog.

The leak itself is probably something simple. If it's PVC or ABS threaded pipe, the jarring from the disposal clogging could have knocked it off the threads. Just unscrew and re-screw the pipe nuts.
posted by sanka at 8:52 PM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best to replace the disposal of its leaking out the bottom. The motor seals have allowed water into the motor.

Since you unplugged it you are probably ok using the sink till you can replace the disposal. Maybe some putty or DAP over the hole is leaking out will seal it for use till it is replaced after tomorrow...tho the water that gets inside might smell after a day or two so I'd drain to a bucket later if you temporarily seal the hole (weep hole). But I think that might get you through tomorrow...

If you are handy, replacing the disposal is pretty do it yourself. Maybe your landlord will ok reimbursing you doing that if it would take way too long for him to get it replaced otherwise...just a thought for when you call him.

Here's a link detailing the symptom.
link to fixya answer
posted by clanger at 8:58 PM on November 21, 2012

Your disposal unit must be replaced.

If you or husband are handy, disconnect the entire disposal and make it back into a regularly working sink.

I'd use buckets for the leak and leave it until it gets fixed, myself.

I had this problem 2 weeks ago.

Not a big thing. You can deal through the holiday.
posted by jbenben at 12:16 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

If the housing is cracked you can spread some epoxy based goo on it like JB Weld and have a good shot at stopping the leak. The stuff can temporarily fix all kinds of problems. I once used it to plug a hole in my car's oil pan after the drain plug was knocked off.
posted by Carbolic at 7:22 AM on November 22, 2012

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