How to Fix a Garbage Disposal

If your waste disposal unit is jammed, clogged, or leaking, this detailed guide will assist you repair it quickly and easily.

A garbage disposal is a relatively basic maker that normally runs trouble-free for numerous years. Ultimately, nevertheless, a garbage disposal can get stuck or break down entirely. You can handle most repairs yourself with bit more than a number of screwdrivers and a hex wrench. And if replacement with a brand-new waste disposal unit is needed, it’s rather most likely you can do this work yourself, too, as talked about in the How to Install a Waste disposal

As shown in the diagram here, a shredder inside the unit breaks down the food, and then an impeller arm and plate force the liquid and particles out the drain. The unit also has a dishwasher inlet so a dishwasher drain water can run through the garbage disposal, allowing the unit to chew up any big particles prior to they are receded.

Disconnect or shut off the electrical circuit that powers your garbage disposal before making any repair works.

Garbage Disposal Doesn’t Work

If the garbage disposal does not do anything– implying it doesn’t even hum or make a sound– the problem is most likely to be that it isn’t really getting power. Try to find a reset button on the underside of the disposal and press this button. That may be all that’s needed to get it running once again. If not, unplug the disposal from its electric outlet and test the outlet with another appliance, such as a hair clothes dryer. If it doesn’t work, go to the breaker panel and reset the breaker that serves the disposal (often the exact same circuit used by the dishwasher) by turning all of it of the way off then back on.

Garbage Disposal Is Jammed

You’ll know your disposal is jammed or clogged when the motor hums however the disposal doesn’t grind, is overly noisy, or runs then stops before you turn it off. The problem is often a piece of bone, a fruit pit, or the like stuck in between an impeller blade and the drain hole. Do not continue to run the disposal when it’s jammed as this can burn out the motor. Make sure to unplug the disposal or shut off the electrical circuit that powers it prior to making any repairs.

To clear a jammed disposal:


  1. Disconnect the unit or turn off the circuit breaker that serves it.
  2. Under the sink, look at the bottom of the disposal for a hex-shaped hole. If you see one, discover a 1/4-inch hex wrench that fits the hole (often there is one attached to the disposal). Fit the hex wrench into the hole, and force it back and forth in both directions a couple of times to free the impellers. (Note: Some models have a reversing switch that accomplishes the same action.).
  3. If your disposal doesn’t have a hex hole or you can’t find a hex wrench, put a short broom stick into the disposal (with the with the power detached!), force it down against one of the blades, and aim to rotate the impeller back.
  4. If something has been put in the disposal that shouldn’t have– such as metal, rubber, glass, or fibrous food waste such as artichoke leaves or banana peels– use tongs or pliers to pull the product out. Never ever use your hand.
  5. You may need to get rid of the disposal to clear a jam. This is really a lot much easier to do than it might seem. Here is an actually valuable video that reveals the fundamental methods for easy repairs and, if needed, getting rid of a disposal:.

Disposal Grinds Poorly

If your disposal grinds inadequately, make sure that you are running enough water while running the system which you are not grinding matter that you shouldn’t. If you can hear the garbage disposal running but it is not grinding, the blades might be broken. It’s normally easier and more affordable to just change the whole system. See How to Set up a Garbage Disposal.

Disposal Drain Is Clogged

When water stands in the sink, it suggests the drain is clogged either in the disposal or further down the drain line. This isn’t really a waste disposal unit issue but rather a plumbing problem. You’ll most likely need to take apart the drain pipeline under the sink and use a drain auger to clear the clog. See Sink & Drain Blockage Repair works.

Garbage Disposal Leaks


If you notice leaks below the disposal, identify the source of the leak, and tighten up the angering connection. If essential, change the drain gasket or the system’s mounting screws.

If the system is unreasonably loud, check that something hasn’t got in the system that shouldn’t have. If all is clear, it’s usually least expensive, fastest, and best to replace the whole unit. You can buy a brand-new disposal quickly and easily online. Please see the Garbage Disposals Purchasing Guide.

Basic Waste Garbage Disposal Care

Waste disposal unit work best if you follow these standard rules:

  • Use cold water when grinding food (warm water can melt fats and clog the system and the pipelines).
  • Do not overfill.
  • Do not put bleach, drain cleaners, or other chemicals into the system.
  • Do not grind overly fibrous materials, bones, or coffee grounds (examine the owner’s handbook) or such materials as glass, metal, or rubber.
  • Run water prior to and after you use the disposal If something has actually been put in the disposal that should not have been, use tongs or pliers to pull the product out. Never use your hand. To clean a waste disposal unit of built-up sludge and debris, fill it with ice and a cup of rock salt then run it for about five seconds. If your waste disposal unit smells bad, you can ventilate it by running warm diluted it while you grind a quartered lemon.


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Morris T. Parson, Tech Support

Leading specialist in electronics and engineering. Author of dozens of articles on various topics from the world of hi-tech. Sound independent analysis of products, exploring new niches and global trends is his special passion.

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