Disconnecting the Garbage Disposal

In this video, Joe Wise of Built Wise Construction in Orlando, Florida, is demonstrating how to disconnect and remove a garbage disposer. The first thing that you need to do is turn off the breaker and turn off the electricity. This is essential: you don’t want to get electrocuted in this process!

Supply lines

He starts by making sure that the breaker isn’t hot and then it’s time to start disconnecting the unit. The first thing to do is to start taking the supply lines off. Supply lines can be made of PVC or of metal. If they’re PVC, then they can be hand tightened, so that’s easy. If they’re metal, they’re going to be on a little tighter, so you’ll need to use a tool: a pipe wrench or a pair of channel locks will do.


The first thing after you’ve removed the supply lines is to pull off the P-trap. There’s water in the P-trap so make sure that you have a pan beneath it and your towel ready so you can get excess water that drips out. The point of the PVC is to keep water and smell out of the kitchen: its whole point is to trap water on one said and gas on the other so that you’re not smelling your sewage.

The wrench

When you’ve finished that, then disconnect the line from the waste line to your dishwasher. If the tailpiece is spiral one, it can be too tight to remove by hand and so you’ll need to use a pipe wrench (Wise calls it a monkey wrench). To do it right, put it on the bolt in the direction that you want to pull. When you’ve clamped down, it tightens the nut. Wise reminds you of the rule to know which way to twist: righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.

Removing the bolt

Sometimes the whole unit comes off loose. Wise believes that it’s easier to replace all of the plastic or all of the metal up underneath here; sometimes the unit’s already been repaired and so it doesn’t come off cleanly. So you’ll have to disconnect it from the unit itself, but you’ll be throwing it away so it’s not a problem.

Wise indicates that you’ll need a little socket wrench, with a socket on it, whichever size fits: that’s another way to loosen it and remove the unit. You can get more

leverage with the socket than you can with a screwdriver.

Out comes the assembly

Some units have two bolts, sometimes just one. As soon as the bolt is out—or the bolts are out—you want to twist the mounting so that you can drop the whole unit down and off the mounting assembly.

Once that’s off, you can go to the electrical part and disconnect the wires. Start by taking the ground wire off (that’s the middle copper wire without any insulation). Then you’ll pull the wire out of the old unit. Just get rid of it. You want o make sure that you get the wire nuts on them correctly. At this point the whole unit is removed.