You know how it is; you’ve just chopped veggies, dressed a chicken, or mixed up a batch of your famous oatmeal cookies. Your hands are filthy and full of food bits, so you wash them in the sink, flip the disposal switch and nothing. Or worse, the gentle whirring that means something is wrong. Alas, disposal problems can ruin an otherwise great day in the kitchen.
As per advice from professional plumbers and the experts, here are some helpful hints for when your disposal is on the fritz. Before trying any home repair, turn off the disposal completely.
The garbage disposal can be a fickle mistress and replacing them can be both costly and annoying.
1.The garbage disposal won’t turn on.
You’ve probably got an electrical problem on your hands. This could be a tripped circuit, or perhaps you just need to hit the reset problem on the base of the machine. Or (yes it sounds obvious) the thing is entirely unplugged. If that’s the case, you’re in luck, that problem won’t cost you a penny.
2.You’re hearing the gentle whir, but nothing’s happening.
You probably have a stuck flywheel- one of the little blades that chops up your garbage. Firstly, and it cannot be said enough, NEVER EVER REACH INTO THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL. You may be able to use a broom handle to dislodge the flywheel. You may need to use the wrench that accompanied the original unit and go at it from underneath the sink. If you don’t have that wrench (it’s okay, it’s probably with your old microwave manuals and all of the missing socks from the dryer) you can go to a home repair store that sells your model of disposal. You may also be able to run some water through the disposal, while turning the switch on and off. The running liquid might dislodge the flywheel.
A clogged garbage disposal could also be the result of a stuck flywheel, the same blade that my be producing the whirring sound. Once again, NEVER EVER REACH INTO THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL. In the same manner as before, you may be able to use a broom handle to dislodge the flywheel. Using the wrench that accompanied the original unit, go at it from underneath the sink. If that still doesn't work, try running some water through the disposal, while turning the switch on and off to dislodge the flywheel. For more tips on how to unclog your garbage disposal, see our other guide: Clogged Garbage Disposal Guide
This one can actually be a fairly simple fix. Turn off the machine at the base and check the bolts. If they are all tight, invest in something called “plumber’s putty”- it’s your new BFF.
5.It’s straight-up busted.
Yeah, you know the deal. You need a new disposal.
With appliances as potentially costly as garbage disposals the key is prevention when it comes to problems. Garbage disposals are meant for small pieces of food only. After the waste has gone down the drain, start running cold water, and then run the disposal. Let the disposal run for 15 seconds. It’s important to never use store bought drain cleaners, as they cause damage to disposals. Misuse of garbage disposals can lead to expensive replacements, so hopefully proper use of your disposal will save you and your wallet.
The garbage disposal can be a fickle mistress and replacing them can be both costly and annoying. Hopefully you don’t have to reach too deep into your pocketbook, but if you do, you can always stick the clueless family member that shoved a chicken bone down the drain with the bill.