A garbage disposal is a useful appliance that many people take for granted until it stops working. If your garbage disposal is not operating correctly, there may be an option other than replacement. Use the following troubleshooting method to identify issues with the disposal. You may be able to fix the unit without spending too much time or money, saving yourself the inconvenience and expense of calling a professional or installing a new disposal.
You will need:
Step 1: Flip the garbage disposal power switch to the on position and listen to the sounds the appliance is making. It may hum without spinning or might not make any noise.
Step 2: Switch off the disposal switch and attempt to figure out what made the unit stop working. Inspect the disposal hole to see if foreign debris is lodged in the area and remove this. The unit may have stopped operating simply due to a utensil falling into the drain.
Step 3: If Step 1 yielded no sound, the circuit breaker to the disposal might have been tripped. The appliance features it own breaker and there should be one on the main circuit breaker panel for the house. Turn off the disposal switch and locate the red reset button on the appliance. Push this small button. A click sound will emit if the breaker was tripped. Turn on the disposal switch and if the unit spins, you have corrected the problem. Flush water through the disposal and flip the control switch to the off position.
Step 4: If Step 3 did not cause the disposal to begin operating, the circuit breaker at the main electric panel may have tripped. Most garbage disposals have a cord that plugs into an under-sink electric outlet. Unplug this cord and plug in your test lamp, which should be off. Turn on the electric switch for the garbage disposal and turn the lamp switch to the on position. The light bulb should illuminate. If this does not happen, find the household circuit breaker panel and locate and reset the tripped circuit. Go back to the disposal and see whether the light bulb is now on. If it is, turn it off and turn off the electric switch for the disposal. Unplug your test lamp from the electrical outlet and plug in your disposal cord.
Step 5: If tripping the circuit in Step 4 illuminated the light bulb but the disposal is still not working, the appliance may be burned out and require replacement.
Step 6: For a disposal that emits a humming sound but will not work, turn off the power switch to the unit. Find the jam buster wrench supplied with the appliance or use a ¼-inch hex wrench. Stick this tool into the hex-shaped receptacle located on the bottom of your disposal. Twist the wrench in a back and forth motion until the disposal moves without any resistance. Remove the wrench and flip on the power switch for the appliance to verify correct operation. Flush water down the drain for a few minutes and turn off the switch.