I’m writing this in the vague that some day, someone out there will save themselves money and/or hassle if their garbage disposal breaks down and they think that it would be too hard or complicated for them to replace the disposal themselves. Replacing a garbage disposal is one of the simplest things in the world to do. Anybody with a screwdriver and some type of wrench can do it.
I’m far from the handiest guy in the world. I’ve improved a little bit since I bought an older home and have been forced to try to fix a few things instead of hiring a repairman. About a year ago my garbage disposal quit working because one of my old roommates stuffed an absurdly large amount of spaghetti down the sink instead of throwing it away. Though I’m not sure who because neither one of the suspects would fess up. Anyways, I didn’t know how to replace the disposal and figured it might be difficult and take the professional skills of a plumber. Being fairly cheap and somewhat of a procrastinator I didn’t really do anything with the disposal for about a year. The spaghetti was removed so the sink could be used but no disposal.
In March, I finally made a deal with my wife that if she took care of a household chore I would get a new disposal. So at first I call a plumber to try to figure out how easy replacing (not installing) a disposal would be. I asked how much it would be to replace a disposal. The guy on the phone asks what kind of disposal. I tell him that I’m not certain probably something lower to middle of line. He then claims that someone would have to do an inspection first (cost tag $60) to see what “size” of disposal I needed and give me an estimate. I said “no thanks” and did a little internet research. From what I read it seemed easy enough but I still wasn’t sure of myself and my lackluster handyman abilities.
I decide to first see if I can take the disposal off and figure out from there if I could put a new one on. All I had to do was unplug the disposal, use a wrench to disconnect the disposal from the pipe under the sink and then turn the whole disposal until it came off. The pipe to my other sink won’t stay straight unless the pipe to the disposal is connected to the disposal so I realize that I have to go to Home Depot for a new disposal. I check which kind I had (Badger 1) and head off. At Home Depot they had 5 or so kinds of disposal but as I’m looking at them I realize that they would all fit the same sink. The “size issue” that the guy from the plumbing company had given me was complete bunk. It didn’t matter. They would all fit. He could have easily told me that a bottom to middle of the line disposal would cost me between $50 and $100 and that replacing a disposal is a job any 6th grader could do.
So I pick out a Badger 5 (a step up from the bottom of the line Badger 1) disposal for about $65 and look at the vague instructions on the outside of the box to make sure I’m good. From the instructions it seems like I need something called Plumber’s putty (I didn’t) so I pick that up to on my way out.
When I get home I take the disposal and all the accessories out of the box. After looking at the more in depth instructions inside the box I realize that my task will be quite simple. I take the electric cord out of the old disposal by removing a screw and untwisting the wires (make sure the cord isn’t plugged in). I then attach the cord to the new disposal by twisting the electric wires - black to black, white to white, and putting the green wires around the green screw (ground). Next I install the unplugged disposal by twisting the whole disposal onto the frame. I reattached the pipes to the disposal and plug the disposal cord in and wah-la! A working garbage disposal and a happy wife.