What Are the Most Common Garbage Disposal Problems?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2019
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Many people experience garbage disposal problems from time to time. Some of the most common problems include clogs and jams. Other garbage disposal problems include dull blades and leaks. Many times, using the proper maintenance techniques will prevent many problems from occurring.

One of the most common garbage disposal problems is a clogged or jammed unit. A homeowner will know that a unit has a problem if it drains slowly, causing dirty water to flow back into the sink. People who feel confident in their plumbing skills might attempt to remedy the situation on their own. In general, the power should be turned off at the circuit breaker first. Then, the unit should be taken apart, exposing the jam or the clog. In some cases, a plumbing auger may be used to unclog a particularly stopped-up unit.

In some cases, it may not be necessary to completely take the unit apart. In those instances, the clog or jam may be visible with a bright light. Then, the person can simply turn off the power at the circuit breaker to prevent any risk of injury, and using scissors, pliers, or another tool, he can remove the material that is causing the jam or clog. Sometimes the garbage disposal problems are as easy as removing a errant piece of silverware or a thick steak bone from the disposal area.


Another common garbage disposal issue is that the unit will no longer chop up material. In those cases, the garbage disposal blades may need to be sharpened. If the blades are not too dull, they often can be sharpened by putting ice cubes down the drain. If the blades are overly dull, they may need to be sharpened professionally or replaced.

From time to time, the blades may completely break off as well. If that happens, the person might hear a loud rattling sound and see that material is no longer being ground in the disposal. In that case, the blades will need to be replaced. On occasion, the unit may be too old to find replacement blades and the entire unit may need to be replaced.

Leaks also can be common garbage disposal issues. For example, a person might notice that the area under his sink is wet or see water dripping from the unit. In this situation, the joints connecting the garbage disposal to the sink and the dishwasher may need to be re-tightened. If the unit is still leaking water, the rubber gasket may need to be replaced.

Many garbage disposal problems can be prevented. For example, some things should never be ground up in the garbage disposal, such as large bones, egg shells, and coffee grounds. Experts also recommend avoiding harsh cleaning products, such as bleach, to keep the rubber gaskets pliable and free from leaks. In addition, running cold water while the unit is turned on and trying to avoid dumping hot water from boiled pastas, grease, or other potentially clogging materials down the drain may help keep a disposal in working order.


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