How to Remove A Garbage Disposal

Step 1: Remove Drain Attachments and Wiring from Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal has several attachments (Fig. 1); including an electrical supply (either direct wired or plugged into an outlet), a drain from the dishwasher, a drain to the sink trap and the disposal is mounted to the bottom of the sink as part of the sink drain assembly.

garbage disposal connections

Fig. 1. Garbage Disposal Connections

  1. If your disposal plugs into an outlet, simply unplug it. If it is direct wired, you may be able to leave the connection if the wires are long enough, but if you are replacing the disposal, the wires will have to be removed.
    To be safe, turn the power off at the electrical panel. You may decide it is not necessary to turn the power off at the panel, as long as the switch to the disposal remains turned off. If you do not turn the power off at the panel, you should put tape over the disposal switch, so it does not get turned on by mistake. But whatever you do, do not leave bare wires underneath the sink!
    There should be a panel on the disposal to remove to see the where the electric wires connect, then you can loosen the electrical wires with a screw driver. In my case, I simply unplugged the disposal from the outlet.
  2. Next, disconnect the drain line from the dishwasher by loosening the hose clamps with a screw driver and sliding the hose off.  Keep your bucket handy to catch any water in the line.
  3. Then, disconnect the hose clamp from the drain line to the trap the same way.

Step 2: Removal of Garbage Disposal from Sink

Now that all the connections have been removed from the disposal, the disposal itself can be removed from the sink. The disposal is usually mounted below the sink by a “Quick-lock” ring.

close view of disposal mounting assembly

Fig.2 Close View of Disposal Mounting Assembly Showing Tension screws and Leverage Lugs.

  1. First, You should be able to loosen the disposal from the mounting assembly that holds it to the sink by using a screw driver for leverage at the points shown in Figure 2.
  2. Put the screw driver in one of the lugs and applying pressure in a counter-clockwise direction as if looking from the bottom up to the disposal. If the disposal does not turn, try tapping on the flanges with a hammer.
  3. Once it starts to turn, it should remove easily. Remove the disposal, but be careful, when it releases from the mounting assembly, it may feel heavier than you think.

Step 3: Remove the Disposal Mounting Assembly from the Sink

labeled garbage disposal drain assembly

Fig 3. Garbage Disposal Drain and Mounting Assembly

The entire drain assembly should be removed so the seals can be inspected. There are five parts to the ring assembly (Fig. 3 and 4).

The top part of the assembly (inside the sink) is the ring around the drain (drain flange) that gives it a clean finished appearance and allows water to drain into the disposal. The rubber or heavy paper gasket helps prevent the drain from leaking. Leaking can also be prevented with plumber’s putty.

garbage disposal drain assembly

Fig. 4. Assembled Garbage Disposal Drain and Mount

The bottom part of the assembly (below the sink) includes the triangular shaped upper mounting ring, the lower mounting ring which has the three screws and a snap ring to hold the upper mounting ring to the lower mounting ring.

  1. First, loosen the tension on the three screws until there is enough room to see the snap ring. The snap ring sits in a groove at the lower end of the flange on the upper mounting ring. Use a small flat bladed screwdriver to dig the snap ring out of the groove.
  2. Once the snap ring is removed, the lower mounting ring will slide off.
  3. Now, you can pull out the drain flange and seal from the inside of the sink.
  4. Remove any old plumber’s putty.
  5. The Disposal is re-mounted or replaced by following these same steps in reverse order.

Before trying to re-assemble the mounting assembly under the sink, it might help to practice fitting the snap ring back onto place. It is a little tricky to do in an awkward position under the sink. By practicing a few times, it will be easier when the time comes.

If you do not have a quality rubber type gasket, make sure to put new plumber’s putty under the drain flange.

You can now return to how to remove a kitchen sink to move onto the next step, disconnecting the water supply.

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  1. Nice article. I replaced my garbage disposal 2 or 3 years ago and apparently I didn’t put plummer’s putty or tape somewhere, because it’s always leaked just a little bit… I keep a bin under it to catch it until it evaporates (that’s how little it is, but was enough to get paper towels to stay wet which caused a smell occasionally)…. but this weekend, maybe I’ll take it apart and see if I can fix that darn leak. Luckily mineral deposits have made it easy to see where I need to work on the leak… it’s just really tight and the disposal barely fit in the space.

    • Dawn – Good luck with fixing the leak. Take a good look at it when you disassemble it, especially where the leak is coming from. Was it tightened properly? Was the rubber gasket seated properly? Is there any noticeable damage to the gasket or where the leak is coming from? If you have any questions, feel free to ask. We’re not professional plumbers, but we’ll try our best to help.

  2. Yvette Hill says:

    Thanks for the helpful instructions! Removing garbage disposal is not as difficult as I thought, but it requires knowledge and ability to do it properly. Greetings!!

  3. Why is everything so complicated? says:

    Thanks for the tip about removing the snap ring from the drain assembly. I had unscrewed the parts, but had not noticed that ring piece was what was keeping everything from separating.

  4. I have 0.5 hp disposal that came with the house, it got damaged and i need to fix it, so I bought a 1.4 HP for the replacement. Is it reasonable to replace 0.5 HP with 1.4 HP (at my residential home)?

    • A 1.4 HP garbage disposal is pretty powerful. If you have a large family and the disposal gets used often, then “reasonable” doesn’t matter. If there’s just 2 of you in the house, then perhaps 1.4 HP is a little overkill, but again, it doesn’t matter if you wanted to spend more for the higher HP. The higher HP models are usually larger units – I assume it fits under your home sink?

  5. Well, that seems to be easy enough, did not help me to return it back to original sink drain. I am looking to remove the disposal and back to the original sink drain. I looked under my sink and it looks complicated; it is hooked up to dishwasher witch I want to get rid of as well; I dislike both units, waste of money and uses of lot of water. I will just contact my nephew he will instruct me how to thanks for some info…..

  6. Jennifer Yowell says:

    I have a GE GFC320F disposal installed possibly as long as 2002 when the house was built. It does not have a new locking ring so I need to know how to disconnect prior to locking rings. I have unscrewed the coupling ring all pipes and unplugged. It just won’t release from the top drain ring. I can’t find anything that “pop” a release and nothing seems like it wants to unscrew from the top.

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