All garbage disposal problems has one thing in common: they’re annoying. It seems like the only time your disposal ever stops working is the night you just finished peeling 500 potatoes. What? It happens! Anyway, regardless of how desperately you need your garbage disposal, it sure is nice to have one.
Like most appliances with moving parts, all kinds of stuff can go wrong in your disposal, for all sorts of reasons. Luckily, unlike many appliances, most disposals can be quickly and relatively easily fixed, as long as you’re careful and do your research. The next time you experience one of the following problems, follow these instructions and see if you can’t get things moving again.
We’re starting with clogs because they’re actually only *kind of* garbage disposal problems. Technically, garbage disposals can get jammed (see below!), but if water stands in your sink and takes forever to drain, it’s probably because the kitchen sink pipe has been clogged. Many different materials can cause clogs, from sediment, to scale, to grease, to food remains. Depending on the culprit, clogs may begin to smell. Ideally, your garbage disposal should have ground up debris enough that it wouldn’t clog anything up, but nobody’s perfect.
To fix this problem, turn off the disposal, fill the sink halfway full with soapy water, and use a cup plunger to plunge the kitchen sink for 30 seconds to one minute. If you cleared the clog, the water in the sink should start draining at a normal pace again. If you’re still have issues, you might have to remove the P-trap under the sink to get at the clog with a snake.
If you can hear your disposal’s motor humming, but the disposal won’t grind, sounds loud, or starts and stops, it’s probably because something jammed it. Disposals jam when something gets lodged in the “flywheel,” which is what the disposal’s rotating plate is called. You can fix it yourself, but remember: NEVER stick your hand down the garbage disposal. Ever. Seriously.
Start by turning off and unplugging the garbage disposal. Next, you’ll need the wrench that came with your disposal. If you don’t have it, you can buy a replacement in a hardware store that sells your disposal brand. Find the hex-shaped opening at the bottom of the disposal unit. Turn the wrench clockwise to dislodge whatever’s blocking the flywheel. When the object dislodges, you’ll feel the flywheel start to turn easily. Reset the disposal and run cold water while quickly turning it on and off repeatedly.
Won’t Turn On
If the garbage disposal won’t turn on, then it’s probably not getting power. First, make sure it’s plugged in. It’s easy to forget that disposals have wall outlets. It’s easy to knock a plug out of an outlet accidentally, especially in a dark place like under the sink. If the disposal is plugged in, check the reset button on the bottom of the disposal unit. If the disposal requires resetting, the button will be popped out. Simply press it and try the disposal again.
If the disposal is plugged in and doesn’t need to be reset, then you should check the circuit breaker. The breaker could be flipped, which would mean your disposal isn’t getting power. If that’s still not the problem, then either the outlet is dead, the circuit breaker is malfunctioning, or the disposal needs to be replaced. Check the outlet first by plugging something else into it. If the outlet works, try replacing the circuit breaker switch. If that isn’t it either, you have to replace the disposal.
Disposals can leak at a couple different places. Start by turning off the disposal at its base. Then, find the disposal mount and remove the unit by turning it counterclockwise from the bottom. Once the disposal has been removed from the mount, you should be able to see the three mounting bolts. Tighten these bolts to make sure they’re not leaking.
If the disposal’s still leaking, loosen the mounting bolts and push the sink flange up until it’s slightly higher than the surface of the sink. Apply fresh plumber’s putty to the threshold between the flange and the sink. When you’ve applied enough, re-attach the unit by putting the bolts back and tightening. Wipe away excess putty that squeezed out. Finish re-installing by replacing the disposal unit on the mount. Turn the disposal back on and look for leaks.
Going without a garbage disposal for any length of time is a great way to teach yourself to appreciate yours. Learn how to solve simple garbage disposal problems like these on your own, and you won’t need to worry every time something goes wrong.
Didn’t see your problem here? Can’t figure what happened? No worries! Just call Ben Franklin today. We can figure out what your disposal’s problem is and fix it effectively all in one fell swoop. So peel those potatoes!