Garbage Disposal Not Working: Learn How To Fix It Without Calling A Plumber

When your garbage disposal isn’t working, there’s no need to panic – most of the time it’s an easy fix.

garbage disposal not working

Learning how to fix your garbage disposal can keep you from making unnecessary repair calls. We’ll walk you through all the easy ways to fix a garage disposal that stopped working. If these don’t remedy the issue it’s time to call a repair service.

How to Fix Your Garbage Diposal: Try This FirstHow To Repair A Broken Garbage Disposal

Most garbage disposals have a reset button. If yours stops working, press the reset button and try again. If this doesn’t work, make sure the garbage disposal has power and is plugged in. You can also try resetting the breaker on your home’s electrical panel. If it still doesn’t work, try to unclog it.

To unclog a garbage disposal, insert a 1/4-inch hex wrench or Allen wrench into the hex-shaped hole on the bottom of the garbage disposal (underneath the sink.) Crank it a few times to clear the propeller. 

Garbage Disposal Parts

To get a better idea of how to fix a garbage disposal, you need to find out how a garbage disposal works. When you turn on the disposal, a disc spins, pulling food into the grinding chamber. The impeller grinds food until it’s small enough to pass through pipes.

Each garbage disposal is a little different. Some have dishwasher attachments, while others are basic. These are the common parts of a garbage disposal:

  • Stopper – the plug of the disposal. 
  • Flanges – to strengthen the position of the hopper.
  • Hopper – the chamber where food is ground. 
  • Stopper Switch – controls the stopper. 
  • Shredder Ring – contains the impeller and helps to grind food.
  • Impeller – pulls food down to be ground up. 
  • Drain Opening – houses water and food to be drained.
  • Shredding Housing – holds the drain chamber and is the lower part of the hopper.
  • Sink Drain – the drain that allows food to pass through to pipes. 
  • Power Supply – this will usually be a wall switch into the outlet to power the garbage disposal. 
  • Reset Button – resets the garbage disposal as the first reaction to troubleshooting problems.  

Garbage Disposal Repair: Troubleshooting Common Problems 

Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting 

Here are some garbage disposal troubleshooting tips, and how to fix each problem.

Garbage Disposal Not Responding

An unresponsive garbage disposal isn’t getting any power. If you suspect this is the problem, check your home’s electrical panel. If you hit the reset switch, make sure the outlet has power. Unplug the garbage disposal and plug in something else.

Garbage Disposal Humming

When you hear a humming sound,  your garbage disposal is jammed. Foreign objects (like chicken bones) are the most common cause of a garage disposal not working.

Unclog the device with a hex wrench at the bottom of the garbage disposal under the sink. Before you do anything, unplug the disposal. If you can’t clear the blockage with your hex wrench, you may need to use small tongs to clear the drain. Use a long pair of tongs and avoid placing your hand in the drain or disposal.

Sink Not Draining

If you’re sink isn’t draining, you have a plumbing problem rather than a garbage disposal issue. You might need to take the disposal out to fix the clogged pipe. For severe drainage issues, contact a plumber.

Leaking Garbage Disposal

When there’s a leak, look for water dripping from the pipes or base of your unit. If you’ve determined that water is leaking from the disposal, tighten loose areas, which many include screws in the disposal or the plumbing connections. If there are no loose areas to tighten, you may have a crack in disposal which requires replacement.

Garbage Disposal Not Grinding Well

If your disposal isn’t grinding well, run extra water the next time you use it. Many people don’t use enough water when grinding their food, causing issues.

Tips To Prevent Garbage Disposal Problems

Preventing garbage disposal problems is better than fixing them. Here’s what to do:

Tips To Prevent Garbage Disposal Problems

Run Cold Water During Usage

Run cold or warm water while your disposal is running and for 15 seconds afterward to flush the drains. Failure to run water can cause the motor to burn and cause your drain to smell bad.

Don’t Overstuff the Disposal

Large food items can get stuck in your disposal. Toss large pieces of food in the trash or your compost bin.

If you have a lot of smaller food pieces to process, add them slowly rather than shoving everything in at once.

No Chemicals

Corrosive chemicals can harm the discharge pipe or discharge tube of your disposal. Never pour bleach or drain cleaner down the same drain trap as your disposal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Should I Do If My Garbage Disposal Makes Noise?

A garbage disposal humming sound is, the first thing you need to do is disconnect it. Turn it off and don’t turn it back on. See if you can fix the problem first. If not, you’ll need to call a professional.

When Was The Garbage Disposal Invented?

The garbage disposal was invented in 1938 by John Hammes in Wisconsin. It wasn’t until after WWII that disposals became a permanent fixture of the American kitchen.

How Much Is A Standard Garbage Disposal?

When you need to replace your garbage disposal, the cost will range between $150 to $950. Now, if you know how to install a new garbage disposal, you could spend as little as $75.

How Long Do Garbage Disposals Last?

If you should consider replacing your disposal every ten years. Most will last for about a decade before you’ll need to replace the unit. You’ll know that your unit needs replacing when it begins to clog more often than usual.

Can Garbage Disposals Hurt You?

Garbage disposals are dangerous and should only be operated by adults. The units have sharp blades that can cut your fingers off if you put your hand down the drain trap. Almost 1,000 people every year are sent to hospital emergency rooms due to lacerations caused during garbage disposal repair or normal usage.

Why Are Garbage Disposals Banned In Europe?

Most European countries have a ban on garbage disposals because they feel the devices encourage food waste while also placing a burden on water-treatment systems. Before the garbage disposal became popular, people would use food waste as compost for their backyard gardens.