How to Remove Garbage Disposal and Replace With Drain Pipe

Homeowners often find themselves facing the need to replace or remove their garbage disposals for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re planning a major plumbing repair, or perhaps you’ve decided to simplify your kitchen by doing away with the garbage disposal system altogether.

Either way, the ability to properly remove a garbage disposal and replace it with a drain pipe can save you from costly plumber visits. This comprehensive guide will provide you with detailed, step-by-step instructions and handy tips needed to successfully undertake this task. 

Removing a garbage disposal involves several specific steps. These include disconnecting the unit from your sink and dishwasher, unscrewing and removing the mounting assembly, and extracting the sink flange. The next part of the process is installing a new sink basket strainer, followed by fitting a drain pipe to your sink. Once everything is installed, the final step is to check your handiwork for potential leaks. 

While these steps are not overly complex, they do require a good understanding of basic plumbing concepts, a steady hand, and certain specific tools. Gathering all these resources in advance will ensure a smooth and efficient garbage disposal removal process.

Tools and Equipment Needed

Before you start removing your garbage disposal unit, it’s critical to gather all the necessary tools and equipment. This will make your task easier and more efficient. The tools you will require include pliers, a screwdriver, a wrench, a bucket, a voltage detector, and a garbage disposal wrench. 

Step 1: Unplug the Power

Before you start removing the garbage disposal, you must ensure your safety by cutting off all power to the device. This can be done by locating your home’s main circuit breaker box and turning off the breaker that controls your kitchen appliances.

This precautionary step will ensure that there’s no risk of electrical shocks while working on your garbage disposal.

However, in some homes, the garbage disposal unit is hardwired into the home’s electrical system. In this case, turning off the breaker might not be enough to cut off power to the disposal. This is where your voltage detector comes into play.

By bringing this tool close to the wires connected to the disposal, you can check if there’s any electrical current flowing through them. If the detector indicates that there’s no current, you can safely proceed with the removal process.

Remember, working with electricity is not something to be taken lightly. If you’re not absolutely sure about what you’re doing, or if you’re feeling uncomfortable at any point, it would be best to call in a professional electrician.

Step 2: Remove the Drain Pipe

Once you have ensured that there’s no risk of an electrical shock, you can proceed to the actual process of removing the garbage disposal unit. The first part of this process is removing the drain pipe. To do this, you’ll first need to place a bucket underneath the sink. This is to catch any residual water that may run out of the pipes once you start removing them.

The drain pipe is typically secured in place with nuts. Using your pliers or a wrench, you can loosen these nuts. Once loosened, you should be able to remove the pipe easily. 

However, in some cases, the pipe might also be secured to the garbage disposal unit with screws. If this is the case, you’ll need to use your screwdriver to remove these screws before you can pull out the pipe. Remember to keep all removed screws in a safe place as you may need them when installing the new drain pipe.

Step 3: Remove the Dishwasher Drain Hose

The dishwasher drain hose is usually connected to the garbage disposal unit. If your dishwasher is indeed connected this way, you will need to disconnect the dishwasher drain hose before you can remove the disposal unit. The drain hose is typically secured in place with a hose clamp, which can be loosened using a screwdriver. 

Once the clamp is loose, you should be able to simply pull the hose off the garbage disposal unit. Be careful when doing this, as there may be some residual water in the hose. Having your bucket handy can help you handle this water efficiently. 

After removing the dishwasher hose, it’s a good idea to plug it with a rag or a similar item to prevent any water that might still be in the dishwasher from spilling out. 

Step 4: Hold the Disposal From Bottom

With the drain pipe and dishwasher hose removed, you can now start removing the garbage disposal unit itself. The unit is typically quite heavy, so you will need to hold it from the bottom to prevent it from falling out accidentally once it’s disconnected.

I highly recommend you use the FastCap Third Hand or the Dr. Disposal to properly secure the garbage disposal unit. This way, you will have both hands free for the following steps.

When you have secured the disposal, use the garbage disposal wrench to turn the mounting ring counterclockwise. The mounting ring is what secures the unit to the sink, so turning it will gradually loosen the unit. 

If the mounting ring is particularly tight, you may need to apply some force to turn it. Just remember to keep supporting the unit from the bottom to prevent it from falling out once it’s loose.

Step 5: Disconnect the Disposal from the Sink

Now that the garbage disposal unit is loose, the next step is to disconnect it from the sink. To do this, you’ll first need to remove the snap ring. The snap ring is a small, circular piece that secures the disposal’s mounting assembly in place.

Using your screwdriver, pry the snap ring off the flange. Be careful not to scratch or damage the surrounding surfaces while doing this. 

Once the snap ring is removed, the mounting assembly – which includes the upper and lower mounting rings and the fiber gasket – should be loose. You can now lift these off the flange, which will disconnect the garbage disposal unit from the sink.

Step 6: Remove the Wires from Disposal

If your garbage disposal is hardwired, you will need to remove the wires from the unit. This is typically done by first removing the cover plate at the bottom of the disposal. This cover plate can be removed with a screwdriver, providing access to the wires inside. 

Once inside, you’ll notice wire nuts securing the wires. You can use either your fingers or a pair of pliers to unscrew these wire nuts. Once the wire nuts are removed, you can disconnect the wires. It’s important to remember the original wiring connections as you’ll need to replicate these when installing a new garbage disposal. Taking a photo with your phone before disconnecting the wires can be a handy reference.

It’s also worth noting that working with electrical components can be hazardous if not done correctly. Always make sure the power supply is turned off, use a voltage tester to ensure no live current, and if you feel uncomfortable or unsure at any point, consider hiring a professional electrician to carry out this task. 

Step 7: Remove the Sink Flange from the Sink

The sink flange is the metal piece that you see when you look down your kitchen sink drain. It’s a critical component of the garbage disposal system and has to be removed as part of the disposal replacement process. To remove the sink flange, you’ll need a flat screwdriver or a scraper to scrape away any old plumber’s putty that secures the flange to the sink. 

Removing old putty might require some effort, depending on how long the flange has been in place and the type of putty used. Be patient and gentle in your scraping to avoid causing damage to your sink. 

Once the old putty is removed, the sink flange should be loose enough for you to lift it up through the sink opening. In some cases, you may need to wiggle the flange a bit to free it. 

Step 8: Install a Sink Basket Strainer

With the old garbage disposal system removed, the next step is to install a new sink basket strainer. This piece will replace the old sink flange and serve as the connection point for your new drain pipe.

The installation process starts by applying a generous amount of plumber’s putty around the sink opening. The putty creates a water-tight seal between the sink and the new flange. 

Once the putty is in place, you can insert the new sink flange into the sink opening. Press it down firmly to ensure it sticks to the putty. 

The next step is to secure the flange from underneath the sink. To do this, slide the fiber gasket, backup flange, and mounting ring onto the end of the flange. You’ll then install the snap ring to hold everything together. Make sure all components are secure by tightening the screws on the mounting assembly.

To tighten the lock nut, consider using a sink strainer tool to make sure you get it properly fastened and secure.

Installing a new sink basket strainer might seem complicated, but it’s a fairly straightforward process if you follow the steps carefully. Take your time to ensure everything is properly fitted and secured to avoid potential leaks down the line.

Step 9: Install the Drain Pipes

With the garbage disposal removed and a new sink basket strainer installed, the final step in the process is to install the new drain pipes. This will involve different steps depending on whether you have a single sink or a double sink.

Drain Pipe Installation for Double Sink

For a double sink setup, you’ll start by attaching a tailpiece to the basket strainer. The tailpiece is the vertical pipe that will run down from the strainer. 

Once the tailpiece is in place, connect an elbow pipe to it using a slip joint nut and washer. The elbow pipe should be oriented towards the other sink drain.

Connect the other end of the elbow to a tee pipe. The tee pipe should be positioned so that it can connect to both the elbow pipe and the drain pipe from the other sink. Make sure to secure all connections with slip joint nuts and washers. 

Finally, the dishwasher drain hose should be connected to the tee pipe. With everything in place, tighten all the nuts to ensure all connections are secure.

Drain Pipe Installation for Single Sink

For a single sink setup, the process is slightly simpler. Start by attaching a tailpiece to the basket strainer, just like in the double sink setup. Connect an elbow pipe to the tailpiece using a slip joint nut and washer.

This time, instead of connecting to a tee pipe, the other end of the elbow pipe connects directly to the main drain pipe. Just like before, the dishwasher drain hose should be connected to the elbow pipe. Tighten all the nuts to ensure a secure and leak-free connection.

Reasons to Remove Garbage Disposal

There are numerous reasons why homeowners may choose to remove their garbage disposals. Some might be looking to upgrade to a newer model that offers improved efficiency or quieter operation. In these cases, the removal process is typically followed by the installation of a new garbage disposal unit.

In other cases, the disposal unit may have developed faults or started leaking, making it more economical to replace than repair. Depending on the age of the unit and the extent of the damage, replacing it might be the best option. 

Lastly, some homeowners may choose to remove their garbage disposals simply because they don’t want or need them anymore. Whether it’s due to changes in local regulations, personal preference, or the desire to simplify their kitchen setup, these homeowners may opt for the less complicated and more traditional sink drain setup.

Conclusion

Knowing how to remove a garbage disposal and replace it with a simple drain pipe is a valuable skill for homeowners. It can save you the cost of hiring a professional and give you a better understanding of your home’s plumbing system. 

This guide provides comprehensive, step-by-step instructions to help you tackle this task with confidence. Whether you’re dealing with a leaking unit, looking to upgrade to a new model, or simply wanting

to eliminate the garbage disposal system from your kitchen, these instructions will help you get the job done right. 

Remember, safety is paramount when dealing with plumbing and electrical tasks. Always make sure to switch off the power before starting work, and have a voltage detector at hand to confirm that there is no current flowing. Gather all the necessary tools before starting and organize your workspace to make the process smoother. 

Finally, while removing a garbage disposal can be a do-it-yourself task, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber or electrician if you feel unsure at any point. Sometimes, it’s better to invest in professional help than to risk damaging your plumbing system or potentially harming yourself.

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