What Are the Best Tips for Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting?

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  • Written By: Marty Paule
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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In garbage disposal troubleshooting, the first step is to determine if the problem is electrical or mechanical. If the unit does not not turn on and makes no noise, there are steps to identify electrical problems. If the unit hums but does not operate, it is likely the garbage disposal has a stuck flywheel that needs to be freed or clogs that must be removed. If all garbage disposal troubleshooting steps fail to reveal or resolve the problem, the unit may be defective and need replacement.

In ruling out electrical issues when doing garbage disposal troubleshooting, the first step is to confirm that the disposal is plugged in. Next, someone should check to see if the unit has a reset button, usually located on the bottom of the disposal. If the button has popped out, it will need to be pressed. If that does not solve the problem, the next step is to check the circuit breaker in the electrical service panel to determine if it has tripped. If it has not tripped, either the switch or the garbage disposal itself is defective and will need to be replaced. The switch can be tested with a voltmeter or continuity tester for correct operation.


When performing garbage disposal troubleshooting, if the unit makes a humming noise when turned on, this usually indicates its flywheel is jammed due to material being lodged between its impeller and shredding ring. The first step is to turn off the power at the service panel, and then using the wrench included with the garbage disposal, turn the flywheel clockwise to free the blockage. The flywheel should turn freely once the blockage has been dislodged. The hole used to insert the wrench is usually found on the bottom of the garbage disposal canister. If the supplied wrench cannot be found, hardware stores sell replacements.

After the flywheel has been freed, the power can be turned back on and the reset button pressed. Running water into the disposal while turning it on and off quickly several times will help to flush away the dislodged material. If a wrench is unavailable with which to free the flywheel, an object such as a wooden broom handle can be inserted through the drain to free up the stuck impeller and flywheel. When doing garbage disposal troubleshooting, the hands should never be put down into the unit to prevent serious injury.

Leaks in garbage disposals usually occur at the sink flange, dishwasher connection, or the drainpipe where water is discharged. All connectors should be checked and tightened, and all dried-out plumber's putty should be replaced. If the leak occurs at the drain, the gasket between the disposal and drain may need to be replaced. When troubleshooting with a garbage disposal, great care should always be taken to avoid injury.


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Post 3

@Viranty - Speaking of silverware and broken disposals, it's always good to remember that not all foods can go down the garbage disposal, even if that's its primary purpose. Some scraps like eggshells and stale bread go down just fine. However, from my experience, foods like cucumbers and potatoes don't. Overall, it usually seems like a case of trial and error, but it's very beneficial to do research online. After all, you wouldn't want to break your garbage disposal over such a simple mistake like not doing some online research, ha ha.

Post 2

@Chmander - In relation to what you said about garbage disposals, in my opinion, they sometimes break due to our own carelessness, and not just because they're getting old. As an example, a few years after I moved into my house, my garbage disposal broke down because a rubber band had somehow gotten stuck. I don't remember how, but I made sure not to make the same mistake twice. Even till this day, I've had some pretty close encounters. When my kids wash dishes, they sometimes forget to check if any silverware has fallen in the disposal. This has led to several close calls.

Post 1
Not only does this article give some very good advice about issues with garbage disposals, but more importantly, knowing the problems and solutions can help to fix the issue faster. In the case of garbage disposals, this is an especially good thing. As we all know, they can be quite disgusting. Filled with old and useless food scraps, they can even be considered a "toilet" of sorts, and it's where we discard what we don't need.

When it breaks or isn't working properly, if it's not taken care of soon, it can lead to all sorts of problems. Not only will the rotting food cause the house to stink, but if it's the summer, the stench of food can attract flies. Sometimes, the longer we wait to take care of a problem, the worse it becomes.

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