How to Fix Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals are an economically friendly way to discard organic food wastes down the house drain. Sometimes, the garbage disposal does not operate as it should, which will require repairs. Most problems occur from something jamming between the blades and the base of the disposal. Also, the motor can burn out and the sink can drain slowly. Once you determine the problem, you can fix the disposal within an hour.

  • Allen wrench set
  • Wooden spoon
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Bucket
  • Small toothbrush
  • Wrench
  • Bottle brush

Motor Hums or Makes No Noise

Turn the power off to the garbage disposal. Some units plug into an outlet under the sink. Unplug the power from the wall outlet. Other units may be hard-wired into the home's electrical system. Turn the circuit breaker off to the garbage disposal in the home electrical panel.

Locate the garbage disposal reset button under the bottom of the disposal. Press the reset button in with your fingertip until it locks into position. Turn the power back on to the garbage disposal.

Run cold water into the drain and turn the disposal switch to the on position. If the disposal is working, the job is complete. If the disposal only hums or the reset switch turns the disposal off, you may have to remove a jam.

Disconnect the power to the disposal again. Find the screw on the bottom center of the disposal that cranks the blade inside the disposal. Use an Allen wrench to turn the screw back and forth until you can rotate the screw one complete revolution.

Insert a wooden spoon inside the sink drain if you cannot dislodge the jam turning the screw crank. Position the edge of the spoon to one side of the garbage disposal blades and push on the blade to move the blade off of the obstruction. Once you move the blade, reach inside the drain with a pair of tongs to remove the obstruction.

Remove the electrical access panel on the side of the disposal if the disposal did not make any sound when attempting to operate. Remove the two screws that secure the panel to the disposal with a Phillips head screwdriver.

Inspect the wire connections inside the disposal. Sometimes a wire will come loose during operation and disable the disposal. If the wires appear good, the motor may be faulty, which will require replacing the disposal unit.

Slow Drain

Place a bucket under the garbage disposal to catch residual water. Use a Phillips head screwdriver to loosen the clamp that secures the dishwasher hose to the side of the disposal. Pull the dishwasher hose off and drain the hose into the bucket.

Insert a small toothbrush inside the dishwasher port on the garbage disposal and remove any debris. Reconnect the hose to the garbage disposal and tighten the clamp to secure the hose.

Move the bucket to the sink trap debris plug. There is a small square plug on the front side of the sink trap. Remove the plug from the sink trap with a wrench. Allow the residual water to drain into the bucket.

Insert a bottle brush into the sink trap and remove the debris from the trap. Reattach the drain plug and tighten the plug with the wrench.

Tips and Warnings

  • Check the dishwasher debris trap if you find debris in the dishwasher connection. The dishwasher trap is in the dishwasher. If the trap is loose, debris flow through dishwasher drain hose and clog just inside the disposal, causing slow drainage.

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