Garbage Disposal Repair

Following up from our last post on garbage disposal troubleshooting, you might realize it’s time for some garbage disposal repair instead of buying a new one. This can become costly if you always have to bring out a professional. Here are a few tips for keeping your garbage disposal healthy and some basic repairs you can do on your own. There is, however, one very important rule: when performing garbage disposal repair NEVER put your hand down the disposal (also called the hopper). Instead, use an object such as the other end of a wooden broom stick.

Garbage Disposal Basic Maintenance

  • Keep your disposal healthy by regularly grinding lemon peels and ice cubes.
  • Keep odors away by first turning off the unit and then adding two handfuls of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar to the hopper. It will foam, once foaming is done rinse it clean with regular water and turn it back on.

Garbage Disposal is Stuck

This is the most common problem and is fairly simple in terms of garbage disposal repair. If your disposal makes a humming sound when you flip the switch then you probably have a stuck flywheel.

  1. NEVER stick your hand down the hopper (just a reminder but it deserves repeating).
  2. Turn off the disposal by unplugging the unit or switching it off at the electric service panel.
  3. Using a wooden broom handle try to dislodge whatever is stuck, you’re successful when you can feel the flywheel turn freely.
  4. OR (instead of step 3) find the offset wrench that came with the disposal (if you don’t have it you can get one at a hardware store that cares your same make and model). Insert the wrench into the flywheel turning hole (located in the center of the bottom of the unit). Turn clock wise until the unit flywheel turns freely.
  5. Plug the unit back in or flip the electric switch back to on.
  6. Back at the disposal press the reset button.
  7. Run water while flipping the switch on and off in short bursts, this will wash away whatever was causing the flywheel to be stuck.

DIsposal Won’t Turn On
Unlike the disposal being stuck (where you will hear a humming noise) if your disposal is not turning on there will be no noise at all when you flip the switch. Again, we’ll mention the golden rule of garbage disposal repair, NEVER stick your hand in the hopper, even if the entire unit is off.

  1. Check to make sure the disposal is plugged in.
  2. Press the Reset button on the bottom of the garbage disposal unit then see if it’ll work.
  3. If not check the circuit breaker. If it’s not the circuit breaker or the reset button then either the switch or the garbage disposal is broken.
  4. If you’re able turn off the circuit breaker and replace the switch (you may need to hire someone for this).
  5. If that doesn’t work you’ll need to have your garbage disposal replaced.

Garbage Disposal is Leaking

If it’s leaking where it connects to the dishwasher simply tighten the clamp. If the hose between the dishwasher and disposal is leaking replace the hose. If the leak is at the drainpipe of the disposal make sure all bolts are tight enough. If it’s not the bolts you’ll need to remove them and replace the gasket, make sure the bolts are tight once the replacement is in.

In terms of garbage disposal repair it simply can’t be said enough that you should NEVER put your hand in the hopper. Even if the disposal is off, even if you’re sure it won’t turn on take the extra 10 seconds and use a broom handle. Your fingers will thank you!

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 as  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.