A few weeks ago something under my kitchen sink started leaking water. I had hoped it was a simple plumbing failure that would be easy to fix. Perhaps a pipe has come loose or cracked a seal? Sadly this was not the case. Water was dripping off the bottom of the garbage disposal and its exterior was dry all around: Water was flowing through the interior of the garbage disposal which meant its useful service life has come to an end.
Before I dispose of the disposal, I wanted to cut it open to see exactly what failed. I guessed that a water seal has failed around the main motor shaft, and wanted to see if my guess was correct. But first, it was sent to sit in the garage and dry off.
Looking around the perimeter for fasteners, the four rods immediately stood out. They are spread around the perimeter, and almost the entire height of the disposal. I tried the easy thing first but they refused to budge with my flat-head screwdriver. So out came the angle grinder with the cutting wheel, which quickly cut the exposed shaft.
Unfortunately that did not allow the top part to come free. Something else was holding it together. Whether it is a mechanism I don’t understand or corrosion I could not tell. But there were no other obvious fasteners to release on the top side, nor is there a convenient point to start prying.
So I started looking around the bottom end of the disposal, where there was a window cut into the bottom for wiring to enter the device. That allowed me to look inside to scout out where I could best use my cutting wheel to cut the bottom free.
Once the bottom was cut free, I had a better view to find next best place to cut the stator free. When I pulled the stator off, I was very surprised to feel the rotor flex along with the stator because I had expected it to stay with the rest of the grinder.
The source of the problem became clear once the stator came off: the metal plate separating the electrical motor from the grinder has been severely weakened by corrosion. I’m sure there were only a few (or maybe only one) hole when I pulled this from the sink, but the whole plate was corrosion weakened so it fell apart when I pulled the stator off the bottom.