Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting

Like any appliance, garbage disposals can have problems from time to time. The common problems range from clogs to dulled blades. If you are skilled at plumbing you may want try fixing it yourself. Even if you have limited plumbing skills, a minor problem may be easily solved without the need to call in a professional. Before you attempt a fix, some garbage disposal troubleshooting will be necessary to discover the cause of the problem. A word of caution: In all cases, it is a good idea to turn the power off at the circuit breaker prior to attempting any repairs.

Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting Tips

  1. Problem: The garbage disposal is humming but is not grinding the waste.
    Solution: The problem here may be that the flywheel is stuck. The flywheel is the part that spins the blades. A stuck flywheel is most likely caused by an obstruction. Use a pair of pliers to remove whatever is causing it to stick. Some newer disposals have a reverse switch that may be helpful for removing obstructions.
  2. Problem: The garbage disposal does not turn on.
    Solution: The problem may be as simple asĀ  a tripped fuse. Go to the circuit breaker and check to see if any breakers have been tripped. If not, check the disposal’s reset button. If it is out, this may mean that the disposal has overheated (possibly because of a jam); reset it and see if the unit works.
  3. Problem: slow drainage.
    Solution: the cause of this is usually a clog of some sort in the drainpipe. Remove the trap and the drainpipe to check for clogs. If there are none, then the blockage is probably further along in the drain system. Snake it and reconnect to the garbage disposal.
  4. Problem: The garbage disposal makes more noise than it did before.
    Solution: a clattering noise may be caused by any number of objects in the disposal. Items like very hard bones or glass may not immediately go down the drain. In some cases, this is a symptom of dull blades that are not able to grind efficiently anymore. In other cases, clattering may be the result of a part of the unit that has come loose; metal screws, and other parts hitting against the blades will make a considerable noise. While some disposals do allow for the replacement of these parts, other units may be old and so the different components may not be readily available; if this is the case, replacement of the whole garbage disposal may be your the best option.
  5. Problem: The garbage disposal is leaking.
    Solution: a garbage disposal may develop leaks at a number of points, like:
    • The Sink Flange
      For a leak where your garbage disposal connects to the sink, check the mounting bolts and the plumber’s putty. Tighten the bolts and reapply plumber’s putty as needed.
    • The Connection to the Dishwasher
      Check the clamp on the dishwasher hose and tighten if necessary.
    • Drain
      Check the connection to the drainpipe and tighten loose bolts if necessary. If it still leaks, replace the gasket.

Note that if the body of the garbage disposal is leaking, you may need to replace the whole unit.

Proper use of the appliance can eliminate the need to do any garbage disposal troubleshooting at all. You should avoid using it to grind up items such as coffee grounds and hard bones that are known to cause problems.

Our next piece is about garbage disposal repair. See it here.