How to Troubleshoot Your Garbage Disposal

So your garbage disposal isn’t working. What should you do? First things first, never reach your hands into the garbage disposal. Though this likely will not result in a need for amputation (like the Hollywood movies suggest), it can cause injury and significant bruising.

Let’s look at some reasons your garbage disposal may not be working and what you can do about it:

Reason 1) It won’t turn on

This indicates that there is likely an electrical problem with your garbage disposal, or that the motor has died.

What you can do:
It may seem obvious, but firstly ensure it is plugged in. Surprisingly, this is the most common reason reported. Most garbage disposals use brushed motor technology because they have higher torque compared to their brushless counterparts. Unfortunately, brushed motored garbage disposals wear out faster; therefore the motor on your garbage disposal may have died if it is not turning on.

Reason 2) There is a jam

If it turns on, and you can hear a humming noise but it’s not grinding, it is likely a gear jam. Certain foods or unwanted objects going into the garbage disposal usually cause this.

What you can do: Firstly, turn off power to your garbage disposal. Then you can stick the offset wrench (usually comes with the unit) or a broom handle down the drain opening into the garbage disposal, using it as a lever to free the propeller and get it spinning again. Once free, be sure to grab a flashlight and look down into the disposal to try and spot the foreign object. Once spotted, grab pliers to remove it.

Reason #3) The drain is clogged

Everyone thinks you can put just about anything down the drain into the garbage disposal, but this is not true. You should not put hard, grainy, fatty or starchy foods into the disposal as they may cause a clog. You will recognize you have a drain clog if your sink is draining slowly or not at all.

What you can do: It is best to call your professional Richco plumber to help you remove the drain clog.

Reason #4) It smells BAD

Now this is not necessarily a problem with your garbage disposal, but it is still very unpleasant! Odors are most likely caused by leftover food stuck in the machine. The best way to deal with this is to freeze some lemon chunks (without the rind) and toss a few of these into the garbage disposal. This will not only rid your kitchen of the foul smell, but will also fill your kitchen with a pleasant citrus scent!

Call Richco Plumbing today if you have any questions about the function of your garbage disposal: 805-484-1297

Skip to content