Everything You Need to Know About Changing Your Garbage Disposal

From removing your old garbage disposal to installing the new unit, replacing your garbage disposal is something you can easily handle yourself.
Written by Kathryn Mae Kurlychek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Replacing your garbage disposal doesn’t have to cost you hundreds—with the right tools and knowledge, you can replace a garbage disposal yourself in just a couple of hours.
So you turned on your garbage disposal, but nothing happened. Maybe it made a sad little groan or grumble before going quiet, but it’s definitely not disposing of all that trash in your sink—so what now? 
You might think it’s time to call a plumber. For several hundred dollars, a plumber can help you replace your broken garbage disposal with a brand new one—but did you know it’s pretty easy to do yourself? If you’ve got some home DIY experience already and a toolbox laying around, you may already be equipped to solve the problem yourself, saving you hundreds.
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wants to help you find savings at home in any way we can, which is why we’ve put together this guide on everything you need to know about changing your garbage disposal. Read on to learn the basics of how to replace a garbage disposal, from basic troubleshooting advice to step-by-step instructions.
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Troubleshooting the problem

So your disposal isn’t working—but that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs replacing just yet. Before going to the trouble of buying and installing a new unit, you’ll want to check on a few things first to see if there’s a simpler solution: 
  • Check the outlet: Your garbage disposal should be plugged into an outlet that you can usually find located under your kitchen sink. Sometimes, the plug can get knocked loose, causing the disposal to stop working. 
  • Press the reset button: If it’s plugged in but still not working, try resetting the circuit breaker by pressing the small red button at the bottom of your disposal.
  • Check the drain: Sometimes, the blades for your garbage disposal can get jammed with food or other debris—all it takes is clearing out the jam (make sure the disposal is OFF first!) to get it back in working order
  • Try turning the motor manually: To do this, you’ll need a hex wrench or Allen wrench handy. Use your wrench to gently rotate your unit’s motor 360 degrees, then remove your tools and try flipping the motor on.
If you come to find your disposal is well and truly broken, then you’ll have to replace it. 

Changing your garbage disposal

At this point, you’re probably thinking great, another home expense. Hiring a plumber to fix your disposal can indeed become costly—but if you have basic home DIY experience (and a toolbox on standby) then you can cut the labor costs and install a new garbage disposal yourself in just a couple of hours! 
Typically, new garbage disposal units range from $50 to $200 and can be purchased at most home improvement and hardware stores. 

How to remove and replace your garbage disposal at home

To change your garbage disposal yourself, you’ll need the following tools in addition to your new garbage disposal unit:
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Hex wrench
  • Plumber putty (and a putty knife)
  • A flashlight
Before you get started, make sure your garbage disposal is unplugged and that the circuit breaker to your kitchen is turned off. It also may help if you clear out the space underneath your sink and put a towel down to collect any water drips.
Once you’ve assembled your tools and taken the necessary precautions, you’re ready to replace the unit!
Key takeaway: Replacing a garbage disposal can save you hundreds on labor costs—new garbage disposal units can be as cheap as $50

Removing the old garbage disposal unit

Your first task will be removing the broken garbage disposal unit from your sink. 
  • Start by unscrewing the discharge tube from your old disposal. You also may have to disconnect the drainpipe that attaches your disposal to your dishwasher if you have one. 
  • Next, you’ll want to loosen the mounting ring to disconnect the old disposal from your sink. The mounting ring will have three grips that extend to the top of your disposal; carefully rotate the grips counterclockwise until the disposal tugs free.
  • Disconnect your disposal from your kitchen’s circuit breaker using your pliers.
  • Unscrew the metal faceplate and remove the snap ring from the inside of your disposal’s flange.
  • Remove the mounting bracket and push your sink’s flange up and out of the drain (you may need to loosen it first with your hammer)
  • Once everything’s disconnected, you can remove the sink strainer and any excess plumber’s putty.
Key takeaway: You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the parts of your garbage disposal unit before attempting to install it yourself

Installing your new disposal

Once you’ve safely removed your old garbage disposal, you’re ready to install the new unit:
  • You’ll start by applying plumber’s putty to your new sink flange and pressing it on top of your sink drain. Leave it there to let the putty harden.
  • Slip the rubber gasket over your new flange and mounting ring, then install your new snap ring (it should snap into place) and reattach the mounting bracket using a screwdriver. 
  • Next, hook up your new garbage disposal to your kitchen’s electrical circuit. You’ll have to remove the cover plate to expose the wiring, but connecting the wires themselves is easy—just match each wire color to its corresponding colored wire nuts.
  • Hang your disposal by aligning the three grips with your new mounting ring. You’ll need to use a wrench to secure the grips in place on your new garbage disposal.
  • Reattach your discharge tube (and your dishwasher drain, if applicable) and secure the piping in place by turning the screws. 
The last step is testing your garbage disposal. Place your sink’s stopper in the drain and fill the sink with water, and be sure to check for any leaks (although leakage isn’t a common problem). Now all you have left to do is turn your kitchen’s electricity back on, plug in your new garbage disposal and flip on the motor! 
Hooray! You've successfully changed your garbage disposal at home. 
MORE: How to make a counteroffer after a home inspection

Does home insurance cover garbage disposals? 

Home insurance
tends to cover big problems and fixes like weather damage or property theft—not so much for household appliances that break from wear and tear. Generally, your home owner’s insurance won’t cover a broken garbage disposal, but
can help you save on home insurance, so you’ll have the extra cash to handle common problems like replacing a broken disposal.  
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No! If you have basic home DIY experience, replacing your garbage disposal can be an easy, straightforward process, and doing it yourself could save you hundreds on labor costs
It’ll likely take a couple of hours to remove and replace a broken garbage disposal, whether you choose to do it yourself or pay for a plumber’s assistance
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