A kitchen sink with spices on a rack above it.

5 Great Reasons to Leave Garbage Disposal Replacement to the Pros

Do you remember that scene in Stuart Little 2 where Stuart goes down the drain to retrieve his mom’s wedding ring? As noble as it was, we don’t recommend it. Sinks can be tricky. And when it comes to a garbage disposal replacement, there are a few reasons you might want to forego the DIY approach.

So what are the reasons it might be unwise to attempt a garbage disposal replacement yourself? Hiring a pro to do the job puts you at a lower risk for future unit failure. It also means you won’t have to deal with repiping issues, non-universal parts, and the difficulty of assembling the unit. Last but not least, you may actually save yourself money if a pro sees that you don’t actually need a full replacement, but a garbage disposal repair instead.

Why Should I Think Twice About a DIY Garbage Disposal Replacement?

We’ve already walked through how you can safely unclog a garbage disposal yourself, so you may be raring to go on a full DIY replacement. We don’t actually want to discourage that, but if you’re set on doing this job yourself, you should read on just to see some of the obstacles you may encounter.

Dim lighting on a kitchen sink with cooking utensils hanging beside it.

Future Failures

A good plumber may choose to connect a new disposal unit to an independent pipe. This creates a dedicated path that will help minimize the likelihood of disposal failures in the future. For a garbage disposal replacement that will actually last in the long run, you should really get a trained plumber in there. After all, what good will a second, broken garbage disposal do you? Then you’re just back to square one: calling for a garbage disposal repair or maybe even another replacement.

Repiping Obstacles

You may get under there and realize (or fail to realize) that your piping needs some attention in order to pull off the project. In some cases, a garbage disposal replacement means redoing all of the piping under your sink. It can quickly get out of control if you don’t have a good idea of exactly what you’re looking at.

“In some cases, a garbage disposal replacement means redoing all of the piping under your sink.”

Washing hands under stainless steel sink faucet.

Non-Universal Parts

Wouldn’t it be grand if the parts and pieces of household items were universal across brands and make? We think that would be marvelous. Unfortunately, garbage disposal manufacturers have other thoughts on the matter. These under-sink monsters are all kinds of different. From overall disposal size and power to individual ring sizes, you’re going to see a lot of variation.

To start with, there is no standard retention ring size to go around the top, so you’ll have to ensure you get the right size for what you had in there previously. Snap ring bases are going to vary too, and your ability to screw one on will depend on which kind you need. Plumbing One Owner Donn Ogilvie says that it’s rare for a unit to hook up directly unless you find the exact same make you had in there before.

Truthfully, that’s where the resources and know-how of a professional plumber can come in handy.

A woman's hand washes food residue from a fork down the garbage disposal.

You May Not Even Need It

Sometimes a garbage disposal replacement isn’t actually necessary. A professional plumber will be able to tell, but you might not. Obviously, this can end up costing you money that a proper diagnosis might have saved you.

It’s a Tough Job, Even For Plumbers

Much like Stuart Little rappelling down a sink drain, those who attempt a garbage disposal replacement alone will often get more than they bargained for. The simple truth is that these units are damn cumbersome to put together. Even for a plumber.

A silver sink with utensils, a sponge, and garbage disposal.

Final Thoughts

Readers know that we try to empower folks for DIY home repairs. We love to save you money on your plumbing projects. But we also want to give you the whole story. And part of the story on garbage disposal replacement is that you may want to think twice before diving in alone.

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