Any busy household relies on a garbage disposal for cleaning up after meals. But what happens when your unit goes haywire? You may be tempted to pick up the phone and call your plumber. Nevertheless, we know how expensive even the simplest repairs can be. Ultimately, there’s a good chance you’re facing a typical, easily reparable issue. We’ve rounded up the most common garbage disposals problems and how to quickly fix them below. See if yours is listed and DIY!
Garbage Disposal Doesn’t Work
Regardless if you have an InSinkErator, Waste King or another top-rated disposer, you’re bound to have minor complications with it. However, it doesn’t mean that your unit is gone for good. It’s highly likely that you’re dealing with the same garbage disposals problems that numerous other families have undergone.
Your unit may not start at all, or you could be experiencing issues like:
- Humming (or other strange noises)
If you find yourself in any of the situations above, we have some good news. You’ll probably be able to fix your garbage disposal quickly and safely on your own, without resorting to professional help.
We have prepared a thorough guide with step-by-step instructions for every common issue. All you have to do is follow the troubleshooting directions and your unit will be up and running in no time.
Garbage Disposal Won’t Start
If your garbage disposal doesn’t start at all, you’re most likely facing an electrical issue. In most cases, your circuit breaker may have tripped for one reason or another. Perhaps you accidentally unplugged your unit when taking something out from under your sink. Either way, your disposal has lost power and you need to reset it.
- Before taking any action, ensure your disposer switch is in “Off” position. Keep it that way in between all steps – safety is always a priority.
- Make sure your garbage disposal is properly plugged in.
- Check to see if your circuit breaker has tripped. If so, reset it by flipping the tripped switch “On”.
- Reach under your garbage disposer and press the red “Reset” button at the bottom of the unit.
- Run cold water and turn disposal switch on.
For visual support, you can also go through these steps with the help of an instructional video. Even though garbage disposal designs may vary, the main frame and reset button are usually the same. If you have followed all the steps and your unit still won’t start, get in touch with a plumber. We recommend explaining the problem via telephone before calling them over to your house.
Garbage Disposal Hums
A humming garbage disposer can almost always be fixed by a homeowner. Most of the time, a disposal starts to hum because a foreign object is stuck in between the blades. It also may have jammed due to stringy foods, such as celery, rhubarb or asparagus. To unjam your garbage disposal, follow the fast repair instructions we have provided.
- Unplug the disposer. If you can’t reach the outlet, disable it from your home’s circuit breaker. Never put your hand down the drain, especially if your unit is plugged in.
- Carefully reach into the drain hole and remove any object that may be stuck with a pair of pliers.
- If there is no solid item, grab the ¼-inch Allen wrench/ hex key that came with your garbage disposal. It may be labeled “self-service wrenchette”.
- Put the wrench in the flywheel hole at the bottom of the unit and gently rotate it back and forth.
- Plug the disposal in.
- Turn your faucet on and run cold water.
- Flick the disposer switch in the “On” position.
Is your disposer still humming? If you’ve gone through our quick fix directions and the noise persists, it may be time to contact a professional. Your motor may be faulty or the entire unit may have to be replaced. To avoid jammed garbage disposals problems in the future, be careful with the foods you put down the drain.
Garbage Disposal is Clogged
Your disposer can easily get clogged due to improper use. Clogging typically occurs when you don’t run enough water in your sink while using the disposal throughout time. It can also be caused by certain foods like potato or banana peels, coffee grounds or egg shells. The consequence is usually a stinky sink with standing water that won’t drain. In order to unclog your garbage disposal, try the steps below.
- Remove the disposer’s plug from its outlet or switch off its circuit breaker.
- Disassemble the drain trap (P-shaped plumbing fixture) in the region where it meets the wall. Do so by using channel-type/ slip-lock pliers to loosen the nut fittings.
- Remove the trap and empty it. You can use a small brush if the contents are stuck. If the clog isn’t there, proceed with clearing the horizontal waste arm.
- Use a sink auger to free any obstructions in the pipe.
- Reassemble the drain trap and allow cold water to run for 2-3 minutes before plugging the disposal in and trying it again.
If you don’t get any results, you have to reach out to your local plumber. The best way to avoid a nasty clog is to avoid grinding the foods we mentioned. Moreover, always run water when the unit is in use. You should also keep a steady flow of cold water for 20-30 seconds after so all the debris washes down the drain.
Garbage Disposal Leaks
As opposed to most other garbage disposals problems, a leaking unit can be affected in one of multiple areas. If the top of the garbage disposal is leaking, it’s likely due to the sink flange. On the other hand, units leaking from the side are often caused by drain lines. Luckily, you can repair either one with ease. Go through the following directions for garbage disposal leaks.
- Disable the garbage disposal’s power source.
- Re-seal the disposer with plumber’s putty if the top is leaking. Make sure you remove any old putty before applying a new layer.
- Tighten the drain line connections on the side of the disposal if that’s where it’s leaking from. Use a screwdriver for the process.
- Re-enable the disposer’s power, switch it on, and run water to see if the leaking has stopped.
Unfortunately, if your garbage disposal leaks from the bottom, you may have to purchase a new unit. Bottom leaks are typically caused by the natural wear and tear of internal seals. On the bright side, you can easily find the best garbage disposal to accommodate the needs of your home. If your unit is leaking from the top or side and the troubleshooting steps above didn’t work, call your plumbing specialist.
To conclude, garbage disposals problems can usually be fixed with a little bit of patience and elbow grease. Do note that issues like clogging or jamming take place when you don’t treat your unit with care. To prolong the life of your food waste disposer, ensure you clean it accordingly and avoid grinding troublesome foods. Have you discovered any other tips and tricks for solving garbage disposals problems? Share your story and wisdom with other homeowners below!