Fixing a Garbage Disposal


Yes, it’s shockingly loud when grinding. Yes, it could chew up your hand in seconds. Yes, it has been featured in horror movies. But all that aside, when your garbage disposal stops working, you don’t have to immediately shell out the big bucks to get it fixed. Take a shot at it yourself first. If you take the proper precautions (never, ever put your hand down into the disposal), you needn’t be terrified of the monster-like tool. We’ll take a look at a couple of scenarios, requiring different fixes.

It may also be the case that you just need a new disposal. We’d suggest reading the Helpful Habitat guide (found here: if you do need a new one.

First, answer this: When you turn on the disposal, does it make any noise?

If no, then you’ll 20150422_194436need to get down and dirty (if your kitchen floor is like mine). Grab a flashlight and look at the unit under the sink. Most disposals will have a red reset button on the bottom. If it’s popped out, push it back in and try to run the unit. (Note: Always run water while running the disposal.) If the reset worked, high-five! If not, you’ll want to check a couple of other things: Is the disposal plugged in? Don’t roll your eyes. It happens! All good there? Then move to the circuit breaker and see if it has been tripped. If not, and this troubleshooting didn’t work, you might just have to call in some help. The unit may need to be replaced.

If the disposal makes a humming noise, turn it off immediately. It could be jammed, and running the disposal when the blades aren’t able to move can burn out the motor, requiring a bigger fix (and cost). Next, turn off the circuit that powers the disposal at the breaker box. Grab the flashlight and take a look into the disposal. You have kids; it’s highly likely that something that shouldn’t be in there will someday show up in there. If that foreign something is in there now, use a pair of tongs to remove it. Again, never, ever put your hand into the garbage disposal. Run the unit. Did it work? Yeah? High-five! No? Don’t fret. We have something else to try.

Hit the ground and use your flashlight to look at the unit under the sink. Do you see a wrench attached to the unit? If not, you’ll need to get an Allen wrench, a small, hexagonal, L-shaped bar. 20150422_201800

Place the wrench into the hole on the bottom of the unit. Flex your mama muscles and turn the wrench clockwise and then counterclockwise, back and forth until you can feel it give way. Turn the power back on and run the unit. (You may need to use the reset button.) Bask in the glory of your success, and you’re done.8544920483_60f0e066ee_z