Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting

garbage disposal in a sink

The garbage disposal is one of the most essential home and kitchen appliances because it makes disposal of kitchen wastes and other garbage easier and more hygienic. Anyone who’s owned a garbage disposal, however, has likely had issues with it at one time or another.

The main areas of complaints are:

  • Disrupted power supply
  • Jammed unit
  • Poor/no drainage

Let’s take a deeper look at these issues and explore possible solutions.

Disrupted Power Supply

The unit may not be working because there is no power supply. It may be because the reset button is tripped. This is a small red button at the bottom that cuts off power supply when the unit is overloaded, there is a power surge, or the disposal jams by tripping. To check this, switch off the unit and try to press in the reset button which would be sticking out if it has tripped. Sometimes this will solve the problem at once and the unit may start working, but many a time, we may have to wait for an hour or so before the button holds back. We have to clear the jammed blades and switch on the unit again. If the problem was only due to tripped reset button, then it will run.

If not, then we have to check for other reasons like malfunction of switch, power cord, circuit breaker, wiring etc. Also make sure your circuit breaker didn’t trip, as well as any GFCI outlet that it may be connected to. If all are functioning correctly, and still the unit does not run, it is a defective unit and we may have to replace it.

Jammed Disposal Unit

loosening a connection on a garbage disposal

The disposal is switched on and it is humming but the blades do not work. If this is the case, it means the disposal is jammed. Turn off the power at the electric panel and unplug the unit. Use a dowel or tongs to dislodge whatever is blocking. Never use your hand to pry anything that is inside the flywheel. Use a wrench to turn the flywheel. Try to move the impellers back and forth until they move easily. You may have to remove the unit to adequately clean it. Run water to clean the loosened particles and slowly spin the flywheel. Once there is smooth movement, plug it on and turn on the circuit breaker and switch on to use it.

Slow Draining

If the disposal is working, but the food particles will not drain out, the reason may be a clogged drain. Unplug the unit. Remove the bolts that hold the discharge pipes and check for clogged drain trap and blocked discharge drain pipes. It may be better to get a plumber to check for blockage down the line or near the sink flange while observing for other problems.

Tips for Use

  • Use only cold water; fats melted by hot water and congealed will clog the unit.
  • Don’t put coffee grounds, bones, shells or other overly fibrous materials.
  • Don’t put metal, rubber or glass.
  • Clean by running ice-cubes and rock-salt periodically and running water before and after every use.
  • Deodorize by grinding a few lemon peels, not with any harmful chemicals.

These shredding machines are durable and reliable mostly but as with most appliances, if we use it as per the instructions given and not overload it, they will give long and trouble-free service.