How big a job is replacing a gabage disposal?

I watched a couple how-to videos on YouTube and they make it look easy-peasy.
I’m not exactly a super home handyman but I’m not totally clueless either. Projects like this seem to have a tendency to take longer and cause more aggravation than I expect. Yet I hate the idea of paying a plumber if I can do it myself.

So what say you, handy Dopers? Have you replaced a disposal? How difficult or simple was it? Can an amateur like me handle it?

According to the video I’ll need a screwdriver and a little plumber’s putty. Really? Or will I need to run back to Home Depot in the middle of the job for a left-handed metric flage wrench and a set of triskadekagonal star nut drivers?

I replaced mine with a standard Home Depot model a few months ago. It was pretty easy and took about 45 minutes. It would have been shorter except I had never replaced one before and it took a while to make sure I was doing everything correctly. It worked fine the first time I tried it at the end.

Assuming you have one in place that worked recently, it is just a matter of disconnecting the wires and pipes and reversing the process. The old disposal twists from the under-sink mount and drops out. I did mine by myself which worked OK but it would be easier if you had someone to help you hold it at key times. You don’t need fancy tools. It comes with a tool to help you remove the old one and twist the new one in place. It just takes a screwdriver and maybe a mallet or hammed and block of wood to help you dislodge the pipes if they are hard to disconnect or reconnect.

It’s made a lot easier if the new disposal uses the same type of connection as the old disposal. Take off the drain pipe, the dishwasher pipe, and support collar, then put the new one in using the same hardware you already have in place. I’d make sure to have a pair of channellocks or a pipe wrench to help with the pipe fittings, towels and a bucket to contain any spills.

Double check the location of fittings for the drain, you might need to put in new drain pipe fittings if the new one doesn’t line up.

You also have to make sure the electrical connection is correct. My disposal plugs into a switched outlet, yours may be different.

It’s a job most handy folks can do, though I would recommend reading the instructions carefully, and checking your existing setup thoroughly before you begin.

Piece of cake, but it always makes thing easier if you have someone to help. This is one of the easer DIY projects. And get the right tools-- you’ll want a good wrench.

No, no, no! You need the triskaheptagonal, not dekagonal wrench. Amateurs…sheesh. :rolleyes:

Definitely change it your self. It’s pretty straightforward. The hardest part is that you’re working in a cramped space. Yes, like all projects it will take longer than you expect. It’s a 30 minute job, but don’t be surprised if it takes you an hour or two since it’s your first time. Just in case, start on Saturday morning instead of Sunday night.

For these types of small jobs around the house, it’s almost always worth it for you to do instead of calling a professional. You could buy two disposals for the price of having a pro put in one. Even if you totally screw it up, you can do it a second time and still come out ahead. Plus, the experience you get on each job means you’re more skilled on the next one (like replacing a faucet or changing a toilet).

Tape the receipt and instructions to the disposal when you’re done. That way if it burns out in 10 months, you’ll have the paperwork handy.

I have done this a couple of times and I’m handy but hardly an expert. If you are replacing it with the same or similar model it’s pretty straightforward and worth doing yourself. I am assuming that this will just plug into a socket and you don’t have to screw around with wiring. If it seems too hard then pause to think whether you may be doing it wrong :slight_smile: Also note that any under-sink work is in confined quarters and generally a pain in the ass.

However, a warning. The second time I did this I upgraded my bottom-of-the-line model to a better model, which turned out to be bigger and so I had to re-do the waste line. This was not hard to do but it’s a hassle if you’re a non-plumber and don’t have a truckload of parts in the driveway. It’s quite the 3D jigsaw puzzle trying to get those PVC elbows and what-not configured to line up within fractions of an inch of where you need it. I think I went to Home Depot about three times before I got all the parts for the right fit.

I agree with everyone who has encouraged you to do it yourself. However, there’s a step to the process in which you have to position the new disposal under the drain and fasten it there with a collar. The disposal is heavy and hard to hold in place with one hand. You may need to stack up some flat things under it to hold it nearly in position, so you only have to lift it the last inch or so.

This is a place to employ the “they take it back” strategy of parts acquisition. Buy 3x as much stuff as you think you’ll need, and take back what you don’t use. Then you only have to go back once, and you don’t have to make the trip in the middle of a job.

I’m no Charles Atlas but I was able to hold mine in place while I tightened the collar.
If you are replacing an existing disposal it is a super easy job. One thing no has mentioned is killing the power to the electrical connection before you wire it up. Make sure the switch is in the off position, or even better, flip the breaker off while you’re working on it. I have replaced and installed several over the course of the years, using nothing more that average home handy-man skills. It’s a straightforward job. My next project is to replace one of those high-temp under-sink water heaters.

You don’t have to go back at all. Keep that stuff around for the next plumbing project. Just buy whole drain replacement packs and you’ll have plenty of extra pipes and fittings around for that new sink you put in the bathroom that just won’t fit in the way the old one did.

If you have a dishwasher, and it’s plumbed into the disposer, do not forget to knock out the plug in the disposer!

When I replaced mine, the hardest part was getting the old collar off. The threads were so corroded I had to get a pair of pliers, and twist the under-sink part until it came apart. Cleaning the sink before installing the new collar was also harder than it should have been. The previous installer used silicone caulk, instead of plumbers putty, and it took a lot of scraping with an old credit card to get it clean.

There were two different lengths of bolts to use, depending whether your sink is stainless or ceramic. Label and save the other set, in case you decide to change the sink type later.

If your disposer plugs in, make sure to keep the old cord. They don’t come with a cord included.

Thanks for the advice.

I have model numbers and photos, so the plan is to get the exact same one (it’s 12 years old so that may not be possible) or as similar as possible, so I don’t have to mess around with the pipes at all.

Not sure if I’ll be able to leave the same mounting bracket in place; that seems like it may be the trickiest part (ETA, like ZenBeam just said!).

I’d like to get it done today, as it leaks and we can’t use that side of the sink until it’s fixed. So I’ll be stopping off at HD on the way home from work. Wish me luck!

I installed a 3/4 horse disposal last year. Bigger than the previous one. It was heavy lifting and holding while I connected it. But manageable.

I would recommend that size. It’s an extra $80 over a 1/2 horse. I think the bigger motor will last longer because its not straining as much.

Also note whether your old one is Continuous Feed. That’s the kind that has a switch on the wall or cabinet. It’s not a big deal to add a switch if you don’t have one already.

As far as I can tell, some of the more popular models have been in production for as long as we’ve had indoor plumbing. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little… but you should have no problems if it’s one of the common models. I suppose the manufacturers may tweak the guts of the models, but the outside has been extremely consistent.

wrong thread

that often happens with plumbing.

I did it myself and I’m definitely not the most handy gal in the world. I did have a BITCH of a time shoving the new unit up hard enough to be able to turn and lock it in place because the seal is very stiff - my ex couldn’t do it either, we had to get the jack out of my car and use that.

ETA - the reason I was replacing it was that I wanted a more powerful model. My old one jammed all the time - the new one NEVER does. It’s fantastic.

I replaced one recently with injured shoulders. Had a hard time holdiing it up with one arm, so I just stuck a bottle jack under it, got a real nice tight seal and turned the coller by hand!

I have to do my mom’s later this week and will use the same tools. Should take about 20 minutes.