Everything You Need to Know About Installing a Garbage Disposal

Your handy guide!

Kitchen Sink
Bill Oxford

Calling all determined DIY-ers—you, yes you, can actually install your own garbage disposal. For those of you who have always dreamed of being able to toss your half-eaten food right into your sink instead of turning your garbage can into a foul-smelling mess, this tutorial is for you. Here's everything you need to know before rolling up your sleeves, straight from the pros.

Before you do anything, know this:

You have to make sure that you have power running under your sink, including an electrical outlet and a switch nearby to turn it on. If you don't, you'll need to call an electrician to get everything installed.

Then, you'll have to figure out exactly what size garbage disposal you need.

"Garbage disposals come in different sizes: quarter horsepower, half horsepower and three quarter horsepower," said Louis Malvasi, owner of Lane Mechanical Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Inc. You can contact a manufacturer to figure out what size is best for you.

Step-by-step Instructions on How to Install a Garbage Disposal

When you're ready to actually install your garbage disposal, follow these steps below courtesy of Lowe’s project expert, Hunter Macfarlane. As you read through these steps, if anything gives you pause, feel free to call in a pro. There's no shame in getting a little help when you need it.

Step 1: Turn off the circuit breaker to your kitchen. Set a bucket under the P-trap and disconnect the drainpipes. Then remove the sink strainer. Remove any excess putty.

Step 2:
On the new drain, apply plumber’s putty around the flange, and press it into place. Then lay a towel in the sink and set the disposal on the flange to keep it from moving.

Step 3:
Underneath the sink, stack the fiber gasket, backup flange, and mounting ring, and slide onto the underside of the flange. Install the snap ring by pulling it open and snapping into place. Then tighten the screws evenly so they’re firmly against the backup flange. Clean up any excess putty.

Step 4:
To connect to the dishwasher drain, use a hammer to knock out and remove the drain plug from the inlet on the disposal.

Step 5:
Next, remove the wire cover plate and connect the electrical cord* by matching the wire colors. Push the wires back in and reattach the plate.

*Electrical cords may be sold separately.

Step 6:
To connect the drain, insert the gasket in the discharge outlet. Then attach the discharge tube with the flange and bolts. Now hang the disposal by aligning the three tabs with the mounting ring. Use the included wrench to turn and lock the tabs over the ridges. Then connect the dishwasher drain. Make sure the discharge pipe is lined up properly and connect your drainpipes—use a T-pipe before your P-trap.

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