Garbage Disposal Not Working? Don’t Call A Plumber Just Yet.

Maintenance & Repairs

Just like most appliances in our home, garbage disposals also need a little love and care to keep working properly. So, why is your garbage disposal not working?

Let’s find out why.

While misconceptions lead us to believe that we can toss all kinds of foods down the garbage disposal. These appliances are not meant to grind up or destroy big particles of food like bones, fruit pits, uncooked vegetables, pasta or rice.

Some of these types of foods, if thrown down the garbage disposal can jam, clog or potentially break your unit.

That is why it is always recommended that you scrape your plate at the trashcan before putting it in the sink.

But even when cared for perfectly, sometimes things just go wrong.

So why is your garbage disposal not working?

Let’s look at a few things that could go wrong and how you can fix your garbage disposal without calling a plumber. 

1. Is Your Garbage Disposal Not Turning On?

Just like other appliances around your home, garbage disposals require an electrical plug in.

Like the picture below, most of the time, the plug-in outlet is located under the sink, behind the garbage disposal unit.

 

If your garbage disposal is not turning on and it’s not creating a humming sound when you flip the switch, first ensure the cable from the garbage disposal unit is plugged in correctly to the electrical outlet.

If the unit is still not turning on, then the next step is to ensure the breaker switch that corresponds to the garbage disposal in your breaker box is turned on.

Sometimes too many appliances pull power at the same time, tripping the breaker switch, then causing the power to be cut off from the electrical outlet.

Garbage Disposal Reset Button

If your garbage disposal is not turning on, there is no humming sound when you flip the switch and the problem is not the electrical power to the unit, then there is one last thing to try.

The Reset Button!!!

At the bottom of your garbage disposal, there is, in most units, a reset button.

Find and press the reset button in order to reset the unit.

Sometimes the garbage disposal unit can be tripped by overloading it with food or maybe an eating utensil that fell down the drain.

2. Is Your Garbage Disposal Not Spinning?

Sometimes large food items or even foreign objects like an eating utensil can fall down the drain, clogging and jamming the blades and not allowing them to spin correctly.

If that is the case, first ensure all power to the unit is cut off by turning the power switch off and then unplugging the power cord from the electrical outlet. This is very important!!! Safety first.

If you can see the item, it is best, for safety reasons, to use a tool like a pair of needle nose pliers. Use them carefully and gently and pull out the logged item.

If you can’t see the item, again, first ensure all power is cut off from the unit by unplugging the power cord.

Then reach in and gently try to remove any debris, utensils, plastics or anything that is foreign to the unit and may be jamming the blades from spinning.

After all possible items jamming the blades have been removed, plug in the power to the unit and flip the power on.

BONUS TIP!

Learn how to properly clean your garbage disposal with our How To Clean Your Garbage Disposal free and easy hack.

3. Is Your Garbage Disposal Not Jammed But Humming?

There are jams that sometimes are not possible to detect from the drain or to remove by hand. So, if your garbage disposal does not appear to be jammed but is still humming, then there is another way to remove a possible jam. Just like in step number two, first ensure all power to the unit is cut off by turning the power switch off and then unplugging the power cord from the electrical outlet. This is very important!!! Safety first Most garbage disposals have a hex-shaped hole at the bottom of the unit that lets you insert an Allen wrench and crank back and forth to remove any possible jams. With an ¼-inch Allen or Hex Wrench, insert it into the Hex-shaped hole at the bottom of your garbage disposal. With your hand firmly on the wrench, push it back and forth a few times in order to free-up any possible jams. Remove the Allen wrench, plug the unit back on, ensure no items are in the drain and flip the switch on.

4. How To Unclog A Garbage Disposal?

Your garbage disposal is tied to the plumbing under your sink. For that reason, in most cases, when your sink is not draining properly, it is the drain pipes that are clogged and not the garbage disposal itself.

In order to fix this issue, you will need to disassemble the drain trap under your sink and remove any clogs that may be slowing down your drain.

Depending on how updated your plumbing is, removing the drain trap can be as easy as turning the slip nuts or threaded fittings off until the drain trap section can be removed. 

Ensure the drain trap is clean of any debris and clogs before re-inserting and tying the slip nuts. Be sure to not over-tighten as these plastic fittings can sometimes break off if tightened too strongly. 

If the clog has been removed and the problem persists, it could be a clog further down the drain line.

For that, you can further disassemble the drain line in order to search for the clog or you can use a sink auger to remove any blockages.

5. Is Your Garbage Disposal Leaking From The Bottom?

There are several possible leakages that can arise from or around the garbage disposal.

In order to find the leak…

First ensure all power is cut off from the garbage disposal by unplugging the power cord from electrical outlet.

If it looks unsafe to unplug the power plug due to water around the area, turn off the power by turning the switch off from the breaker box.

Then carefully check and find the location of the leak by drying all the water from the garbage disposal unit and drain pipe connections.

You may have to slightly turn the water faucet on in order to get some water in the disposal and drain line.

If you find out that your garbage disposal is leaking from the bottom, unfortunately the unit’s internal gaskets have worn out enough to create a leak and it may be time to replace your garbage disposal.

Depending on the age of your unit, you may still be covered by the warranty. Find out by calling the customer service line for your garbage disposal’s manufacturer.

If unfortunately it is that time to replace your garbage disposal, we have listed our two most favorite units as the most budget friendly, reliable and easy to install yourself.

Best Garbage Disposal

#1 InSinkErator Garbage Disposal with Cord, Badger 5, 1/2 HP Continuous Feed

RELIABLE & EASY INSTALL: Badger Series disposers are a reliable & functional choice when affordability is the prime concern, and features a compact, space-saving design that fits existing InSinkErator hardware for a quick and easy install.
DURABLE COMPONENTS: This garbage disposal features an exclusive 1/2 hp Dura-Drive Induction Motor and long lasting galvanized steel components to ensure a dependable grind for everyday food scraps.
AMERICA’S #1 DISPOSER BRAND: There are more American-built InSinkErator garbage disposals in US homes than all other brands combined.
POWER CORD INCLUDED: Easy install with the included power cord.

#2 InSinkErator Garbage Disposal, Evolution Compact, 3/4 HP Continuous Feed

SPACE EFFICIENT, DURABLE COMPONENTS: Perfect for small households or houses with restricted cabinet space, this garbage disposal easily fits under your sink & features alloy stainless steel components with a LeakGuard Liner for the highest durability.
• QUIET BUT POWERFUL: This innovative food waste disposal features noise reducing SoundSeal Technology, our exclusive, long lasting 3/4 hp Dura-Drive Induction Motor, and 2-Stage Multigrind Technology to handle the toughest food scraps.
• AMERICA’S #1 DISPOSER BRAND: There are more American-built InSinkErator garbage disposals in US homes than all other brands combined. A full line of models means there’s one right for every need and budget. Grind Chamber Capacity – 34.6 ounces. Drain Connection – 1-1/2 inch Anti-Vibration (Hose Clamp). Average Electrical Usage – 3-4 KWh Per Year

We hope these tips helped you get one step closer to CONQUERING YOUR HOME! Leave us a comment and let us know any other tricks and tips that you do to keep your garbage disposal working right. Until next time!  

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