How to Troubleshoot & Fix a Broken Garbage Disposal

broken garbage disposal

Garbage disposals are one of the most underrated appliances in the home. Thanks to garbage disposals, we can effortlessly discard food scraps while washing the dishes. But if you’re garbage disposal isn’t functioning as it should, cleaning the kitchen can be even more time consuming. Luckily, troubleshooting (and fixing) your garbage disposal can be a simple task.

Our easy guide walks you through the most common reasons garbage disposals malfunction and how to address each issue.

Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn On

Sometimes the garbage disposal won’t turn on when you flip the switch. If this is what’s happening, here’s how to troubleshoot the problem:

Step 1. Make Sure the Appliance is Plugged In

We always recommend looking for low-hanging fruit first. It’s possible that the appliance became unplugged without you realizing it.

Step 2. Press the Reset Button

If it’s plugged in and still won’t turn on, the next thing to do is reset your garbage disposal. The reset button operates a built-in circuit breaker function. If the circuit was tripped, the reset button will be popped up. Push it back in to reset the garbage disposal.

Step 3. Check the Main Service Panel

If steps 1 and 2 didn’t work, check the main service panel to see if the circuit breaker has tripped. If it has, reset the lever.

Step 4. Check the Wiring

If none of the above have worked, check the wiring. Unless you’re familiar with wiring, it may be difficult to tell if there is a wiring issue.

If you’ve tried the steps above to no avail, it’s possible the garbage disposal needs to be replaced. Here are five additional signs your garbage disposal is bad or broken.

Garbage Disposal Leaking

Garbage disposals vibrate a lot. All this vibration can cause mounting apparatus to loosen, leading to sink leaks at the flange. If this is the case with your appliance, here’s how to troubleshoot.

Step 1. Turn Off the Power to the Appliance

Turn off the power to the garbage disposal at both the service panel and at the switch that controls the appliance.

Step 2. Locate the Garbage Disposal Mounting Ring

This is located under the sink. Turn the appliance to the left to loosen the unit from the mounting flange.

Step 3. Tighten the Bolts

Tighten the three mounting bolts which hold the flange to the sink. If the bolts are already tight, the leak may be due to old plumber’s putty. Try loosening the bolts and pushing the flange above the surface of the sink.

Step 4. Seal the Area

Using more plumber’s putty, seal the area between the flange and the sink.

Step 5. Tighten the Bolts

Tighten the mounting bolts, which should bring the flange flush to the sink surface When the excess plumber’s putty oozes out, wipe it away.

Step 6. Reinstall the Appliance

Reinstall the appliance, reset the disposal, restore power, and turn the garbage disposal on while running water.

There are other factors that can cause your garbage disposal to leak. Check out our article on garbage disposal leaks to learn more.

Garbage Disposal Is Clogged

Step 1. Turn Off the Power to the Appliance

Turn off the power to the garbage disposal at both the service panel and at the switch that controls the appliance.

Step 2. Locate the Switch

This is located under the cabinet, close to the garbage disposal. If you can’t find the switch, go to the main power source panel and turn off the breaker.

Step 3. Inspect the Garbage Disposal

Look for anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes a clog is caused by something as simple as a lodged utensil.

Step 4. Remove Any Debris

To remove debris, use pliers or a similar tool. Avoid using your hands because the blades are sharp.

Step 5. Wait 10 Minutes

This will allow the garbage disposal’s motor to cool.

Step 6. Reset the Garbage Disposal

Simply turn on the power and press the reset button.

Learn more about garbage disposal clogs and how to prevent your appliance from clogging in our blog.

Garbage Disposal Hums But Won’t Grind

Many homeowners encounter this issue, which often indicates that the inner flywheel is jammed. This can cause the garbage disposal reset button to pop or the circuit breaker to trip.

A jam is usually caused by food or a foreign object that is lodged in between the impellers inside the appliance. If you suspect this is the issue, here’s how to troubleshoot it:

Step 1. Turn Off the Power to the Appliance

Turn off the power to the garbage disposal at both the service panel and at the switch that controls the appliance.

Step 2. Insert the Offset Wrench into the Garbage Disposal

This should have come with your appliance, but if you don’t have it you can pick one up at the hardware store. Insert the wrench and turn it clockwise to dislodge the jammed impeller or flywheel.

Step 3. Use a Wooden Spoon

If the last step didn’t work or if you don’t have a wrench handy, you can try inserting a wooden spoon or a similar object into the disposal. Use it as a lever to free the jammed impeller or flywheel, which will start turning freely if you’re successful!

Step 4. Use Pliers

Use a flashlight to look down into the drain. Can you see an object lodged in the disposal? If so, use a pair of pliers to remove it.

Step 5. Press the Reset Button

If one of the above steps was successful and the garbage disposal is no longer jammed, reset the appliance, restore power, and turn the garbage disposal on while running water.

Plumbing Repair Services in Clearwater Florida

If your garbage disposal is malfunctioning and you aren’t sure why, we want to help. At Climate Design, we offer quick, efficient, quality plumbing repair services to the Clearwater area and beyond. Contact us today to learn more about our plumbing services or easily schedule an appointment online.

Call (888) 572-7245 to Schedule Your Appointment

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