How to Remove a Garbage Disposal D.I.Y.

How to remove garbage disposal

Need to remove your garbage disposal, but don’t want to drain your bank account to get it done? We hear you, let’s walk through how to remove a garbage disposal together.

There are many reasons to replace a garbage disposal from your kitchen sink. The most common? Problems with old drain lines, water backing up your disposal when the dishwasher runs, or even dull/old garbage disposal blades. Or maybe it’s a smell that just won’t go away even after pouring in baking soda or grinding orange peels (or grinding ice cubes to sharpen the garbage disposal blades). No matter the reason for to replace a garbage disposal, it’s something that eventually needs replacing – like any other kitchen appliance or tool. But like most home projects, doing it yourself can save a lot of money (instead of hiring a plumbing professional), removing a garbage disposal (subsequently performing a garbage disposal installation) is much easier than you’d think.

How to remove garbage disposal

With old drain lines, even the smallest pieces of food waste can build up within the discharge tube and cause serious pipe blockages. In this article, we will cover how to remove a garbage disposal system – from the snap ring, to the drain flange. A sink that can drain properly will prevent bad odors, and make life easier when cleaning up food waste from the bottom of your sink. We spend too much time in the kitchen to deal with a bad disposer, so let’s get you a new one now.

Quick myth-buster: Egg shells do not sharpen the blades of a garbage disposal when run through the disposal with hot water or cold water. In fact, disposals don’t even have literal blades to sharpen (so the same goes for putting ice down there to blend). In fact, egg shells are NOT good for disposals as the membranes from the egg shells can get wrapped around the impellers and cause damage.

Let’s get started!

Tools & Equipment Needed:

  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Basket strainer
  • Plumbers putty
  • Professional plumber putty knife
  • Channel-lock pliers
  • Tongue-and-groove pliers

How to Remove Garbage Disposal and Replace with Pipe

Step 1: Disconnect the Garbage Disposal

Safety first. Start by locating the electrical wires and unplug the garbage disposal unit from the outlet in the wall. If for some reason you can’t locate the plug, you can always cut power to the disposal by shutting off power at your circuit breaker. Double check to be sure the power is off to the garbage disposer before doing anything else.

Next, you will need to remove the drain trap, the piece that connects the garbage disposal to the drain pipe. Be sure to place a container under the trap, so that you can catch any remaining water or food waste that may drain from the pipes.

DIY garbage disposal removalGrab the pliers and go on to remove the two trap nuts. Once they’ve been removed, pull the trap pipe directly downwards. Proceed to remove the continuous waste by extracting the nuts with pliers, and pulling the pipe out.

Step 2: Disconnect the Dishwasher

If you have a dishwasher, there’s a good chance it’s connected to the garbage disposal.

Before you can remove the garbage disposal unit, you will need to disconnect the dishwasher drain line. You can do so by using your pliers to remove the dishwasher tube from the garbage disposer. (See picture below).

How to remove garbage disposal yourself

Step 3: Remove the Garbage Disposal Unit

The next step in how to remove garbage disposal units, is to actually remove the disposal unit itself.

Insert a flat screwdriver into the lower mounting ring (sometimes referred to as the garbage disposal locking ring), and slowly begin turning it counterclockwise (ONLY turn it approximately ¼ of a full circle turn). This will unlock the lower mounting ring. Be prepared to catch the disposal, as it will fall straight down after the mounting ring is unlocked.

All that’s left is the mounting assembly. To remove this portion, use a screwdriver to loosen the three screws around it first. Then, using a flat screwdriver, pop the snap ring out of position. From there, the rest of the mounting assembly will come off easily.

Remember: You will need to pull the top piece of the garbage disposal out from the top side of the sink.

How to Remove Garbage Disposal Flange

As a reminder: the sink flange is a trim ring (may be multiple) that fits into the hole at the bottom of a sink bowl.

Together, a gasket and plumber’s putty provide the seal that goes around the upper rim and is a tight seal to prevent water from seeping through and dripping under your sink. The garbage disposal (or, in some cases, the drain pipe) attach at the lower end of the flange.

So, in order to remove the garbage disposal flange, you will need to unseal the plumber’s putty. Take the pliers and fit them onto the lower end of the flange, below the sink. With a tight grip, rotate the pliers on the flange about ¼ of a full turn, counterclockwise. This will unseal the plumber’s putty.

How to remove garbage disposal flange

Next, you’ll want to take a wooden block (or any other item that you can position underneath the flange) to securely hold the flange in place as the plumber’s putty is now unsealed. If the flange feels loose enough for removal, you can go ahead and take it out of the sink from above. On the other hand, if the flange still feels stuck, you can carefully tap the side of it with a wooden mallet (as necessary) to loosen the flange and drive it upwards to be removed from above.

Troubleshooting a Broken Garbage Disposal

Before you go ahead with DIY or professional installation and removal of your unit and dishwasher drain connection, you should consider troubleshooting your current garbage disposal first. 

It isn’t uncommon for batch or continuous feed disposals to act up now and then. A thorough inspection may help relieve your average garbage disposal replacement cost and effort.

So, here are some common issues and the best ways to troubleshoot broken garbage disposal repair if you encounter them.

The Unit Isn’t Working or Humming

Two things are likely responsible for this – either the unit’s overload circuit breaker has been tripped or the electrical supply panel is off. This can happen if you overload the disposal.

In either case, your garbage disposal isn’t getting electrical power and that’s why you can’t get it to work.

What you can do here is find the reset button on your unit and click it. As there are different types of garbage disposals, the location of the reset button may vary but you should be able to find it at the bottom of the unit.

If this doesn’t work, you should turn your attention to the electrical cable connector of the unit. Some models are hard-wired into an electrical service panel. If your model runs via such a power source, simply go to the circuit breaker panel or breaker box and reset it. 

For pug-in types, just make sure that the electrical outlet power source it’s connected to is still working. If the wall outlet is fine, reset the breaker one more time.

Your Disposal Unit is Making Guttural Noises or Terrible Noises

Terrible noises or guttural noises and sounds coming from your working disposal can be alarming but you don’t necessarily need to fear the worst. It may just be bits of food scraps or tough food particles such as banana peels or stringy vegetables lodged in the wrong place.

The moment you notice this problem, flip off the power switch of the unit immediately as, depending on the location of the food particles or foreign object jammed in your unit, the fine-tooth blade of the impeller(s) or even the disposal motor can get damaged.

The first thing you need to do after shutting down the disposal is to remove the wire connections from the electrical power source or turn off the circuit breaker panel if it’s hard-wired. 

Under the sink drain portion or sink basin, you’ll find a ¼-inch hex wrench hole. Next, get a pipe wrench (or a suitable adjustable wrench) that is the same inches in diameter from your basic tools kit. Fit it into the hole and wriggle it back and forth a few times. This should be enough to free the impeller(s).

However, not all units have holes for a hex wrench. If yours is one such disposal, you can just find a short and firm stick to push down the sink drain. Try to use this stick to get the impellers to move fluidly back and forth.

If and when you spot the cause of the jam, don’t try to remove it with your hand, even if the disposal unit doesn’t have an electrical power supply at the time. Rather, use a pair of pliers (needle-nose pliers) to pry the object out.

But in some cases, this might not be enough to fix the problem so you’ll need to remove the disposal. Luckily, you should know how to do that now.


Although it takes a little extra effort to learn how to remove a garbage disposal unit by yourself, DIY garbage disposal removal can be a very rewarding experience. When done carefully and correctly, it’s not too hard to end up with a job every bit as good as if a professional had done it. And especially at a time where home service repairs seem to be getting more and more pricey, it is well worth saving the chunk of change you would’ve had to part with to pay a professional.

At the same time, there are a number of complications that could come up with the sink drain, the discharge tube, the drain hole, or other. So know when to stop and call a friend (or an expert). There are lots of youtube videos to help you sort through pretty much everything, but there’s also a point where doing it yourself could lead to more damage than good. And saving money on a plumber could lead to much bigger expenses down the line when done wrong. So, don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Keep in mind, if you get stuck or feel overwhelmed at any point, a plumber is thoroughly trained to remove and replace garbage disposals – and they are only a call away. That said, don’t get discouraged too quickly. With some patience and effort, you should be able to get the job done by yourself!

Next Steps:

With the garbage disposal removed, you’re now ready for your garbage disposal replacement. While most options are stainless steel (recommended), you typically benefit from quieter noises when running a more expensive model. The most common brand is the insinkerator, and there are many different models of the insinkerator garbage disposal. But just because one is the most common, don’t forget that Kitchen Aid, Waste King, and others have good models too. Check out our buying guide to find the best purchase for you, and follow the specific instructions for each to install a garbage disposal correctly per their manufacturing recommendations.

Thanks for reading! If you’re on the market for a new and improved garbage disposal unit, check out our Garbage Disposal Buyers Guide for the best deals on powerful disposal units.

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