Has your garbage disposal stopped working? While you can get by without a garbage disposal, it’s not ideal and is a problem that needs resolving. No matter how durable your machine is, garbage disposals have a tough job and will break down over time. If your system is not physically broken, there are various methods you can utilize to fix a garbage disposal that is not working.
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4 Ways to Troubleshoot a Broken Garbage Disposal
Let’s break down the common problems garbage disposals run into and how you can fix them.
1.) Make Sure Your Disposal Is Plugged In
Before you jump to the conclusion that your garbage disposal is broken, you should check to see if it’s plugged into the wall. This is a simple and important first troubleshooting step when you encounter garbage disposal problems. Your disposal’s plug can come out over years of continuous vibration or your wall socket may even be loose.
If your garbage disposal is in fact plugged in, you can try unplugging your disposal. Wait for several minutes, and then plug it back in again. This is recommended to be done before trying the reset switch. If you are still in the situation where your garbage disposal stopped working, then it’s time to try a reset.
2.) Try Resetting Your Disposal
Your garbage disposal’s internal circuit breaker may have overheated during use, so it’s time to try resetting it. Many disposals come with a reset button pre-installed. If your garbage disposal is not working, you will need to use the reset button to restore the functionality of your system. The reset switch is typically located around the top of the garbage disposal, attaching to the sink.
If the button isn’t up near the sink, try near the bottom of the machine instead. To reset the disposal, give the button one firm press and hold it for several seconds. All you’re doing is resetting. This surprisingly simple process could save you both time and money.
3.) Look For a Blockage
The next most common garbage disposal issue is jams caused by metal that falls into the disposal’s grinding teeth. If you hear a humming noise and your garbage disposal is not working, this is a sign of a blockage. Before putting a hand or anything else into the disposal itself to feel for a blockage, try fishing around gently with a knife or chopstick. If you knock something loose or feel resistance above the blades, then you have a jam.
Safety Note: Safety is critical when dealing with blockages. Before you even think about putting a hand near anything resembling a garbage disposal opening, ensure that the switch is off and that the disposal is unplugged.
It’s all too easy to seriously injure yourself if you try to remove a blockage without taking proper safety precautions.
4.) Check the Circuit Breaker
Even though garbage disposals can seem somewhat medieval, they are a more recent invention. That means that if your house was built in the eighties or earlier, then it likely wasn’t set up to run a garbage disposal unit at all. In more modern houses, the dishwasher and disposal share a single circuit to avoid overloading either appliance. The dishwasher may be on a separate circuit in an older house, but the garbage disposal likely won’t be. So, it’s possible that you may not be dealing with a broken disposal at all.
Instead, check your breaker box for popped switches. Even an extra load as small as a toaster, phone charger, or kitchen light could overload an older system. There’s an easy way to test this theory. Instead of rushing to the breaker box, try plugging things into outlets around your kitchen. If those outlets are also dead, then you’re dealing with a popped breaker.
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How a Garbage Disposal Works
Now that you know a few good ways to troubleshoot your garbage disposal if it stops working, let’s dig a little deeper into how a garbage disposal works.
This information will help you troubleshoot your garbage disposal repair further.
The Main Parts In a Garbage Disposal
To help you determine why your garbage disposal is not working, we have created a summary of the parts in your system. A garbage disposal is a plastic (or in some cases metal) canister that attaches to your sink and contains several sets of sharp, spinning rings of “teeth.” The chamber that contains the teeth is often referred to as a “hopper.”
The teeth inside of the hopper are spun by a flywheel that is spun by a water-proof, electrical motor at around 2,000 RPM. When the flywheel spins the teeth, they fling the food inside of the hopper against a ring along the outer wall that’s often referred to as a “grinding ring” or a “shredder ring.” The shredder rings then grind the food and water from the sink, washing away the bits that remain down the drain.
How Garbage Disposals Drain: The Dishwasher Connection
Garbage disposals take up space in the area that dishwashers usually have their air gap in. So, when you install a new disposal, be sure to connect your dishwasher’s drain hose to your disposal. When a garbage disposal has stopped working, the source of the issue may be an improperly connected dishwasher drain. You can normally find the dishwasher drain port near the top of the disposal blocked with a plastic knockout. To remove the knockout, tap it with a screwdriver and a hammer and fish it out of the hopper before you use your disposal for the first time.
Your Expert Team Awaits
Like everything we depend on daily, garbage disposals are tools to enhance our everyday living. This is one of those tools that can be replaced and upgraded. So, what are your thoughts? Do you think that you can fix a failing disposal or buy a new one? Or is it time to call in the pros?
Whatever you decide, if you’ve noticed your garbage disposal isn’t working like it used to or has simply stopped working, call our team of local plumbers to become familiar with our garbage disposal repair and installation services. In addition, our certified technicians provide other types of plumbing services such as sink installation, water heater repair, sewer line replacement, and water line repair. We are committed to serving as an all-in-one solution for when your garbage disposal is a problem that needs fixing now. For speedy, reliable service, don’t hesitate to give us a call!