You can avoid costly garbage disposal repair bills by learning some simple troubleshooting tips. These straightforward tips on how to repair a garbage disposal are designed to address the common issues you may experience, regardless of the brand and type you own.
Warning: Remember, safety first. Always make sure to turn off the power to the garbage disposal at the breaker. Also, never put your hand down the drain into the disposal (hopper).
Note: If you remove the splashguard, you will have easier access.
Garbage Disposal Repair – Will not Start/No Humming Noise
This tip is for a disposal that will not turn on and it is not making a humming noise. When this happens, it is generally an electrical issue. Try the first step and if it does not work, go on to the next.
- Make sure it is plugged in.
- Press the Reset button.
- Check circuit breaker to make sure it has not been tripped and turned off at the electrical service panel.
- If the breaker has not tripped and your reset button will not pop out, it could be a faulty switch or a faulty garbage disposal. Locate the switch that actually powers the unit. This will be located either on a wall or possibly under the sink. Turn off the power at the circuit breaker. Replace the switch. Turn the power back on at the service panel and check to see if it starts.
If it does not start after replacing the switch and there is no humming noise, then the disposal is likely not fixable and will need to be replaced.
Garbage Disposal Repair – Will not Start/Humming Noise (Stuck Flywheel)
If your disposal makes a humming noise but will not actually start, then your problem is likely a stuck flywheel. The humming does not last for long because either the unit itself or the fuse or circuit breaker will trip making it turn off quickly. Generally, the flywheel will get stuck because of something that is lodged between the flywheel and/or the impellers and the shredder ring.
- Turn off the power at the electrical service panel.
- Insert the offset wrench that came with the disposal into the flywheel turning hole at the bottom of the unit. If the offset wrench that came with the disposal has been misplaced, you can purchase another one at the hardware store that sells your brand of disposal.
- Turn clockwise. This should dislodge the stuck impeller or flywheel and you will feel it turn freely. If this does not work, you can try from another angle. Use a broom handle or similar wooden object to free whatever is lodged from the top through the drain.
- Once you have dislodged the object, the flywheel will turn freely. Turn the power back on, but do NOT turn on the disposal yet.
- Press the reset button. Run water into the disposal.
- Flip the switch on and off quickly so that it runs in short bursts. Do this a few times and this will help the dislodged obstruction wash down the drain.
Garbage Disposal Repair – Leaks
There are a variety of places a disposal can leak. The most common places are at the sink flange, dishwasher connection, and discharge drainpipe.
Troubleshooting Tips for Sink Flange Leaks
- Turn power off at the electrical service panel.
- Locate the disposer mount. Turn the disposal counter clockwise from the bottom. This will loosen it enough to be removed from the mounting flange.
- There are three mounting bolts. You will need to tighten them. If they are already tight, you may need to check the putty. To do this, loosen the bolts. The sink flange needs to be pushed slightly above the surface of the sink. Apply plumbers putty between the flange and the sink. Make sure you apply the putty all the way around the flange. Tighten the mounting bolts. It is okay if the putty oozes out. Just wipe away the excess putty.
- Reinstall the disposal. Turn your power back on and check for leaks.
Troubleshooting Tips for Dishwasher Connection Leaks
Simply tighten the clamp on the dishwasher hose that is connected to your dishwasher’s inlet located on the disposer. If the hose continues to leak, you will need to purchase a new hose.
Troubleshooting Tips for Discharge Drainpipe Leaks
The bolts securing the discharge pipe to the disposal should be tightened. If the leak continues, try replacing the gasket by removing the bolts and the pipe. Reinstall the bolts and then tighten.
Garbage Disposal Repair – Slow Drain
There are a variety of reasons why your disposal would be slow at draining. The most common issue for slow draining is a clogged drain line. Your first instinct might be to use a chemical drain cleaner. Never do this. It will damage your disposal.
The bolts holding the discharge pipe to the disposal need to be removed. Remove the trap and discharge drain pipe by disconnecting the drain trap. Look for any obstructions or clogs here. If you do not find any at this point, the obstruction is likely in the line going into the wall or possibly beyond the vertical pipe that goes into the wall. Use a sink auger to clear the obstruction here.
Prevention is the best way to avoid clogs and a slow drain. There are some things you can do to reduce clogs form happening. Potato peelings should not be put in the disposal. They create a starchy paste when ground up causing your drain to clog.
Coffee grounds or eggshells should also not be put into the disposal. They form into tiny granular waste when ground which will stick to sludge in the pipe causing your drain to clog. Avoid putting corn husks or stringy vegetables, such as celery, down the drain. Grease is not recommended for your disposal. Also avoid oil and fats. They will slowly accumulate and inhibit its ability to grind.
Preventing Garbage Disposal Repairs/Maintaining
Aside from avoiding specific foods and other pieces of hard trash, you will also need to take steps for maintaining your garbage disposal. This will definitely go a long way at preventing garbage disposal repairs. Grind up pieces of lemon peel and ice cubes on a regular basis. The ice will help to sharpen the blades that could become dull over time.
To prevent odors, put a combination of baking soda and vinegar down the disposal hopper. Make sure the unit is turned off. It will foam up. Once it is done foaming, rinse it down the drain with water. This should be done once a month.
After the waste matter has cleared your drain, you will want to keep the disposer and water running for approximately 30 to 60 seconds. The cold water keeps the motor, bearings, and shredder assembly from overheating. Never use hot water because it can melt fat, which will allow it to re-solidify and cause your drain to clog.
Prevention is the best way to prevent garbage disposal repairs; however, learning how to repair a garbage disposal will also help to prevent those costly bills.