By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Out of sight, out of mind - that is, until it stops working. It's easy to forget about the little workhorse under the kitchen sink that chews, cuts and grinds food waste and flushes it down the drain. But when the little disposer stops operating, you realize just how often it's used for cleaning fruits and vegetables and doing dishes.
A plumber will charge $362 to remove an old waste disposer and make a direct replacement, meaning the new unit's plumbing and electrical connections line up with the old unit. This includes the labor and material. A handy homeowner with some plumbing and electrical experience can make the swap for $225, the cost of the disposer, and save 38 percent. As you disconnect the old unit, make a sketch of the plumbing and electrical connections or take a picture with your cell phone to refer to when you're shopping for a new one and installing it. The only tools you'll need are a flashlight, screwdrivers and tongue-and-groove pliers. Have on hand some plumber's putty and electrical tape to complete the job. To make the most of working in the small cramped conditions under the sink, empty it so you'll have room to move around. Be prepared for some drips and plan ahead. Before you remove the drain plug or disconnect the trap, have a plastic pan on hand to catch any water left in the pipe. Plan on the job taking you about four hours from start to finish.
If new lines are required, it will be considerably more to hire a professional, and worth the expense to get it done correctly.
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Here is a link to the Consumer Reports Garbage Disposers Buying Guide.
Now you know the average cost to replace a garbage disposer, which includes the labor and material, and what’s involved, so you can decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor. Don’t forget to adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020