Garbage Disposal Problems And Solutions

I wish you were working as a plumber in America, and if you do you will know that one call you never seize to get is my garbage disposal doesn’t work.

Since the disposer is indispensable, we understand why it not working for a few days can frustrate the operations.

Garbage Disposal Problems

The garbage disposal is some of the few gadgets that work a lot in the house. It’s an electrical appliance that grinds your food waste using the motor system.

For this reason, you will hear frequent problems, especially those related to jams and clogs are inevitable.

With this article, we troubleshoot some of the expected problems when you have and use the garbage disposal.

Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn On

This gadget that gets rid of all that waste in a few seconds and by just flipping the switch sometimes doesn’t turn on. Like we have said in the previous articles, most of us mishandle it and it’s only when it stops working that you realize how much you need it.

Thankfully, even though the garbage disposal develops problems now and then, most of those problems you can solve by yourself. Here is the process to follow when you wish to correct this issue.

My advice though is that you should always try the basics as you go to the complex solution. When the garbage disposal doesn’t turn on, this can be the easiest problem to fix. But it can also mean the disposal is officially broken down.

Your safety is paramount

Whenever you are taking on any project, whether you are a professional in the field or not, take precautions. Wear the protective gear, especially gloves, and sometimes you may need goggles but not always.

When repairing the garbage disposal or any other electric gadget, always switch off the power first. You should even go further to unplug the disposal unit, and if you like you can switch off the primary power source the better.

Also, while we have said this a thousand times in this series of articles, we can’t insist just how important it is. Don’t at any time put your hand in the garbage disposal. Use the nose pliers and tongs.

Find the reason for the problem

It can be happening because of several reasons. Check them below.

· Electrical problems

When you switch on the garbage disposal, and it just doesn’t turn on at all. It may have a power-related issue. This means that it has blown off a circuit or it could be that the plug is the problem.

In this case, it’s vital first to check the plug to know where the problem is. You can, therefore, do the following to fix the issue.

Check the socket to see if the plug is loose. If it’s loose, put it in position and turn on the disposer to check whether its working or not. Use the reset button below the disposer to find out if it’s operating or not. If it works out, that was a simple shot but if it doesn’t let’s proceed.

A simple reset button can make it work again as it revives the broken circuit. So, go under the garbage disposal and press the small red button. It should make the disposer wheels begin moving again. If it doesn’t, check other things.

· It could be clogged

The other common issue is the clogging of the same. If it has a clog, depending on how bad it is, you may notice the humming sound even though the blades don’t grind. For this one, you should know that food waste may have blocked the impellers, flywheels, and shredders.

This is a common problem and luckily an easy to fix kind if you follow the steps below.

Begin by unplugging the garbage disposal.

You may need a flashlight to see where the clog is. With the flashlight, check if you can see any clog on the parts of the disposer. You may see anything from debris, bones to the foreign obstruction (glass, utensils, and paper).

If you see the clog, you can use the nose pliers to get it out. Also, you should use the slim tongs for the process. Take time to remove every little obstruction.

Finish off, by starting it all over again. You can begin running water and switching it on. Press the reset button to start it though. And if it does start, clean the disposer and start using it. If it doesn’t, it means there’s another problem.

More details: How to Unclog the Sink.

· It could be broken

Now if the disposal still won’t turn on, maybe it has broken down. Could your motor be burnt? These are some of the questions that your plumber will answer for you. If the disposer has been working for so many years you can expect that it has broken down.

You can either buy a new one or go to the plumber for help.

The Garbage Disposal Doesnt Turn Off

The same way it doesn’t turn on, sometimes the disposal may not turn off. Of course, this is dangerous as you can’t leave it running for 24/7. If this happens, you can take the steps below to turn it off.

  • Keep the wall switch turned off
  • Next, open the cabinet and find the power cord that connects the motor to the wall switch.
  • Unplug it and then plug it to the other outlet next to the main outlet.

The disposer shouldn’t run if you do this and if it doesn’t, you have solved the issue.

Go on to test the disposal by switching the main switch again. It should run right and switch off when you aren’t using it. If you still can’t turn it off, then know that the wiring problem is deeper.

Why Is My Garbage Disposal Not Working?

Well, this may happen to you from time to time that the garbage disposal doesn’t work, but it’s not always that it has broken down; sometimes it’s just a minor problem. So, here are some of the reasons that the disposer isn’t working.

The power-related issue

Sometimes this is simply the reason why it’s not working. You could have a single circuit and yet there are so many gadgets taking power from it. Often your kitchen will have the fridge running 24/7. Thus, if you have the food processor running at the same time that you are using the disposer, it might trip.

To test this, find out if other gadgets are working before you conclude that the appliance tripped. Always let the garbage disposal work on its own or let the electrician install more circuits for the house. This would prevent power-related issues.

Overworking it

Sometimes you overwork it, and this is enough reason for it to stop working. If you run it three to four times a day it will wear down faster than it should. It should work but don’t overuse it especially when it has a lower horsepower.

Using it for all the wrong reasons

The garbage disposal is not your garbage can backyard, always keep that in mind. You only use it for select food waste and never nonfood waste. If you use it to dispose of hard bones and papers it will reach a point where it can’t take it anymore.

Although the disposer is the kitchen horse, it’s not invincible, mishandling it will damage it.

It may have overheated

This is another common reason to lead to it not working for some time. The motor will often overheat, and when it does, it just trips and shuts off. You don’t have to worry about this though because you can quickly fix this problem.

The best sign for overheating is that you switch it on and it doesn’t even make a humming sound let alone the blades turning around.

It may be clogged

The disposer handles waste food; therefore clogging is almost inevitable. When the clog gets bigger, it blocks operation. This is especially true if it has blocked the impellers or flywheels. The only choice you have when this happens is to remove the clog first.

If you don’t remove the clog sooner, then it will lead to a massive breakdown eventually. The good thing is that unclogging it is quite easy. Even a clog in the drains will cause the disposer not to work.


This is another common problem that may lead to your disposal not working. It’s common for the unit to hum, but it’s not grinding the waste. When that happens, it’s likely that theirs a jam. Often the jam occurs on the impellers calling for you to get rid of the obstruction.

Is it old?

The last reason why the disposer may not work is that it has reached its breaking point. Point blank the disposer it quite old. After eight years of service, you should know that every other year is just a bonus and mostly it depends on how much care you give the disposer.

Garbage Disposal Smoking

The worst thing I fear is often the accidents related to electricity on the disposal units. But sometimes you can’t avoid the problem. Since the disposal unit uses power you might smell something smoky from time to time.

The motor is the vital part of the disposer, and when it breaks down, it mostly means that the disposer is out of work. It’s safe to say that it’s the backbone of the grinding process. It has to power the flywheels to rotate the impellers for grinding.

Through this process, it may sometimes get burnt out. When this happens the first indication that the motor or the motor capacitor is burnt out. In case of a clog or a jam that blocks the movement of the impellers, the motor and the parts of the motor overheat.

However, the other reason for the motor burn out is easily that the motor is wearing out. At this point, you should replace it soon.

Garbage Disposal Is Leaking

Another one of the common problems is the leaking of the garbage disposal. Some parts will only mean you should repair it. But if its body is leaking then the disposer is completely worn out and should be discarded.

In summary, here are the causes of the leaking:

  • Its sink flange could be loose. This is the part connecting the disposer to the sink, and when it’s not tightened, the disposer will leak.
  • Sometimes you can have the seal being broken. This is the most common reason.
  • The faulty body is where the body of the disposer has completely worn out. This may be a result of the cracks present and corrosion so you can buy another one.
  • The dishwasher drain pipe may cause leakage as well. It will mostly be a problem with regards to the secured fit. Sometimes the hose has cracks, and therefore you can buy another hose to replace this one.

With all the different kinds of leakages, you can fix them in a few seconds but mostly if you have the plumber’s putty. Take time though to investigate how severe the leakage is.

Garbage Disposal Is Rusted

Often, you need a proper garbage disposal for smooth kitchen operation, but even when you have the good disposer you need to take care of it. If you don’t maintain it, the rust problem is a must. That aside sometimes you can’t avoid the rust.

The garbage disposal provides the conducive environment for rusting. Most of the disposers have the inner parts made using stainless steel. You will further have too much water in the disposal and oxygen; this makes it susceptible to rusting.

Well, although they eventually rust if it’s made using steel, the concern is how fast it rusts. Lucky for you because you only need the lemon solution to get rid of the rust. So, for anyone who likes to use lemon juice in their disposer, chances are that it never rusts.

One way to avoid bad rust is by making sure you use the disposer from time to time. Even if you don’t wash that often just run some water and switch it on for a few seconds.

The Humming Garbage Disposal

We never think that much about these gadgets until something isn’t right. Anyway, that is part of our regular lives right.

So, when you just noticed the disposer is not working, you begin to fret. But you shouldn’t this is something that happens once in a while. It probably is humming but not grinding, and that’s why you are questioning in it.

The reason for the humming can be anything from a jam on the impellers. This is where something has caused the jam, and even though the motor receives power, it just can’t make it work. So, you will hear a hum but no sound.

In other instances, you can find that the hum is a result of the electric malfunctioning. The most common electrical problem is that the unit overheats leading to a circuit breaker.

Sometimes, though all this is an indication of the disposer’s end. In this case, it has stopped shredding and no matter what you do it won’t shred the waste rather just hum. If this is the case for you, buy another disposer.

There are several ways to repair this problem. One is to unclog the garbage disposal, and sometimes you have to replace it.

Garbage Disposal Loose Blades

This disposer depends on the blades to shred down the waste. While they work efficiently over a long time, it will reach that time when they start getting loose. It’s quite easy to know when the blades are loose.

The loosening of the blades is simply a result of the blades wearing and tearing. The first thing you notice is that the disposer is now making such a loud and alarming sound when it’s grinding the food waste.

Often most people suggest that you don’t fix it when that happens, instead replace the disposal altogether. Fixing it is excellent if you don’t intend to buy a new disposer now although it may end up costing you as much as buying a new disposer.

Garbage Disposal Smells

This is another one of the most prevalent problems that you will probably experience the moment you buy and use the disposer for the first week. Remember the disposer deals with even rotten food waste so smelling is almost inevitable.

Most of us, though have learned how to contain the smell with the simplest option being to grind the lemon in the disposer. There are various other methods to use including using the store-bought deodorants.

The most important thing is always to keep the disposer clean. This will prevent too much odor. When the disposer begins to smell, you will surely know that you can’t stay in the kitchen without handling the situation first.

Lastly, Maintenance of The Disposer

Here are the things to do that will keep the disposal safe over a long time, in other words, maintaining it.

Cleaning: keep the disposal clean, this will mean that you rid it off clogs and frequent jams.

Usage: only use it for what it does. Never use it as a garbage can that it’s not. Know what you can put in the disposer and what you can’t. Also, know the dos and don’ts of the disposer. This will keep it working over a long duration.

Run the water in: the disposer works a lot with water so run enough water before, after and during grinding. It will lubricate the blades and keep the motor from overheating.

As you can see, some of the problems need no plumber. But don’t rule out the plumber entirely because there are times they will come in handy.