Garbage disposals for us are almost the same as having the fridge or even lights in the house.
They are indispensable. Virtually all homes around America have a garbage disposal. It came to make our work easy when it comes to food waste disposal.
Unfortunately, we sometimes mishandle them as we use them for all manner of things. This is never without consequences. We must handle different problems occurring just because once you are used to it, you can’t do without it. Garbage disposal is also not invincible.
Recently I came back home from work only to find that smell that you sometimes have when the circuit breaker is burning. That often shows danger. You can’t possibly mess with electricity, and any simple mistake can cause unrepairable damage.
Looking and smelling around, I found it was my disposer. As you would expect, panic, what should I do? Luckily, my brother is a plumber, and he came to fix it. It turns out this is something that happens regularly.
What Causes the Smoky Smell?
Precisely, the smell may be from the wall circuit breaker, which means the circuit is overpowered and the fuse is maybe burnt. Other than that, it could be from the garbage disposal motor. It has most likely worn out, or it’s just burnt.
Sometimes, it could be that the motor has overheated and you need to restart it, and it will be back to the game as you would expect.
How to Tell If Garbage Disposal Motor Is Burned Out?
Everything fades out at some point. Even the garbage disposal can only do too much. At some point, it may begin to break down, but the one thing that burns out first is often the motor. When this happens, most of the times you will have to discard it.
Here is the most effortless procedure to find out whether the motor is burnt out.
Check the power supply
Often, we rush to go and fix the garbage disposal when, in fact, the circuit breaker is the problem. Before you begin tampering with the disposal unit, confirm that the circuit breaker isn’t the problem you have.
Check whether the wall circuit breaker is supplying power to the garbage disposal. You can do this by unplugging the disposer and trying two other appliances in the kitchen. Plug the blender or toaster in the same ports to see if its receiving power.
Probably, you will find that the problem is in the circuit breaker. You can confirm that if the blender isn’t powered either. If the circuit was therefore tripped, you could reset it, and you’re your garbage disposal on again.
However, if it powers the disposal, you should then go on to check the motor. Next, you need to confirm that the disposer is not jammed because most times the jams cause the burning out.
To unjam the disposer, you will need to use the hex wrench. Lucky for you, most of the disposers come with the hex wrench, and you won’t have to buy a new one.
Insert it at the bottom of the disposal
Take the wrench and push it on the port at the bottom of the disposer. You can then turn the blades clockwise and counterclockwise. If you at any point reach an obstruction, keep rotating it until it releases.
Turn on the power to see if it starts again. But this time use the reset button to restart it. Push it inside the disposer for twenty seconds.
Meanwhile, you can use a wooden spoon to go inside the disposal through the sink. Rotate it in the parts of the disposal then check if there any clog causing the jam. If there’s none, repeat the process above with the Allen wrench.
It should start working now, and if it doesn’t, you will know maybe the motor is faulty. Sadly, if you have a defective motor, its best to replace the garbage disposal.
If it did work and you know that the clog caused the jamming, you should clean it to finish off.
Run the water as you would usually do then switch the disposer on and let it grind a little to see if everything has normalized. Add baking soda, water, and vinegar to give it a thorough clean.
Take a cup of vinegar and pour it in the disposer then a cup of baking soda and cover it for a few minutes. This will clear any smell, gunk as it scrubs the inner parts of the disposal. Once you finish, you can run a lot of water down the drain as it goes on grinding.
Now thorough clean and you are ready to use it again.
How to Prevent Smoking?
Now that we know that often the garbage disposal smoking is from the motor, there are ways you can curb the smoking and burning out.
Use enough water when grinding
As you are grinding your waste, let the water run in the disposal constantly. The cold water protects the motors from overheating. It will further lubricate the shredding parts for a smooth running at a reasonable temperature.
Don‘t overwork the disposer
Naturally, the horsepower you buy will handle a certain amount of food waste. You don’t expect 1/3 HP to manage waste from a family of ten people. That would mean it will only be a matter of time before it begins to overheat and even burn.
Don‘t deposit hard and foreign food waste
If you keep grinding hard bones in the disposer, it will not only blunt the impellers but one day the disposer will burn out too. When it overheats, it will often start by smoking before its out of business entirely.
When all is said, the moment you notice your garbage disposal is smoking, you may need to fix it sooner for your safety reasons. This is because the smoke says there’s an electrical problem and it’s giving you a hint to cater for it before it burns everything.
During the operation, you should always be safe because you are stepping on a thin line you know. A simple mistake can get you electrocuted. If you aren’t an electrician you should trade carefully.
The essential precaution is to cut out the electric supply as you are working on the disposer.