DIY – How To Repair A Stalled Garbage Disposal

Oct 4

Don’t click away now – trust me, this is reeeeeealllllllyyyyy easy! So easy I can’t believe I was able to complete this repair!

BY MYSELF, mind you!

Nothing gave me more pride than fixing a simple home issue without having to call a repair person. More importantly, without having shell out who knows how much money to have a repair appointment.

A garbage disposal is the simplest appliance in your home. There are just a few parts yet it’s powerful. Like many of the appliances in your home, if it stops working – you quickly realize just how much you rely on it!

Thankfully, a stalled garbage disposal is an easy fix!

How do you know if your disposal is stalled? Usually when you flip the switch the unit hums and/or doesn’t turn. Or there’s no sound at all.

Step 1: Determine if something is stuck in the disposal or if the spinning gadgets inside are jammed. DO NOT stick your hand in the unit in order to verify this. Instead, use the end of a broom or plunger handle or a long pair of tongs. Dig around with the tongs to see if a piece of food is lodged in the turning wheels. If there is food, remove it. If there isn’t food, try tapping the turning wheels with the back end of a broom handle to un-jam them.

Step 2: If step 1 doesn’t solve the problem, try pressing the reset button on the bottom of the disposal. The reset button works like the reset button you find on most outlets in your home. The button on my unit is small and red and directly under the unit. Over the years, we’ve had to reset it a few times and it’s a simple fix.

Step 3: If pressing the reset button doesn’t work, we’ll need to do a simple repair. First thing is to turn off the power to your disposal. This can be done at the circuit breaker box. Open the door and find the switch labeled with your garbage disposal (hopefully your switches are labeled! if not, this is a great project to complete soon!)…

Turn off the switch. If your disposal is plugged in, instead of connected to a circuit breaker box, then unplug the unit.

**Before moving forward, double check that the power to the unit is off. I know it was off because our disposal is connected to the dishwasher. The dishwasher lights were not powering up, which means it’s safe to proceed.

Your garbage disposal comes with a tool called a “food waste disposal” wrench. Here’s mine…

I keep the wrench in my garage tool box, but some people keep the tool stored directly under the sink. If you don’t have your wrench anymore, no worries…an allen wrench works too. Usually, that’s a 1/4″ size allen wrench. Or you can grab this one on Amazon.

Step 4: Under the disposal, there is an opening for that wrench. Stick the wrench in the hole and twist it left to right a few times.

If your sink has water sitting in it from the stall, you’ll begin to hear it drain. It’s a beautiful sound! Again, all you will do is twist left to right a few times….maybe 2 to 3 inches in each direction…

Step 5: Once the water has passed, turn the power on to the unit again.

Step 6: Turn on the cold water and flip the switch. Your disposal should be working now!

If your disposal isn’t working after these steps, there could be something seriously wrong with the unit and it needs replacing. Garbage disposals last a long time, but there does come a time when they need replacing. Hopefully, my tutorial is all you’ll need to get your disposal back up in working condition!

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comments +

  1. Some pretty handy tips you have here, Samantha! I also have a garbage disposal unit at home. And since we’re on the topic anyway, I'd like to share some tips on how to get rid of any foul smell your garbage disposal might have. Instead of buying bleach detergents, you can use some citrus peel, baking powder, and vinegar to get rid of the smell. Regular maintenance and cleaning is also advisable to keep the unit from smelling.

    Brandon Novak

  2. Wow! That was as simple as that? I guess I better give it a try. You see, I don’t usually do repairs at home, even if it’s a small one, since I know I can’t make it. But using the steps here that you’ve provided, I guess it’s the right time for me to check on our garbage disposal. I better start trying it now, before Mr. Plumber comes again. 🙂

    [ Carmella Vancil ]

  3. Darryl Iorio says:

    I totally agree with your advice regarding the elimination of the vinegar smell, Brandon! I had the same problem before because I used to wash some car parts on our sink to save money. As a result, the sink was always filthy. I was tasked to clean it since I was the culprit, so I had to find ways to both clean it and make it smell good. This was the solution I found!

    Darryl Lorio

  4. Jake Hyet says:

    Sure I most of the house this same problem happen many time. I think this is right solution to solve this problem.

    Medical Waste Disposal

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