My Garbage Disposal Isn’t Working. What Do I Do?

My Garbage Disposal Isn't Working. What Do I Do?

There’s nothing more frustrating than turning on your garbage disposal after clearing a dish only to find that it’s not working. Garbage disposals have become a relied-upon kitchen appliance and a better alternative to throwing food out in your garbage. 

With your garbage disposal not working, you’ll likely look for ways to troubleshoot before considering a new garbage disposal installation. You can try various troubleshooting techniques, such as unplugging and plugging your garbage disposal back in, checking for jams, and giving it a nudge while it’s off and unplugged. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these troubleshooting techniques so you can determine whether you can get your garbage disposal up and running, require a garbage disposal repair, or need a new garbage disposal. 

Common Signs That Your Garbage Disposal Isn’t Working Properly 

Maybe your garbage disposal hasn’t gone out completely, but you notice it’s not functioning as it should. Here are some common signs that your garbage disposal isn’t working correctly: 

  • Your disposal won’t turn on when you flip the switch.
  • Your garbage disposal is humming but not working. 
  • Your garbage disposal won’t turn off. 
  • You notice puddles indicating a leaky garbage disposal.
  • Slow drainage or clogging.

These issues can occur throughout several uses, but it’s possible that your garbage disposal could falter from one day to the next, especially if it’s damaged by an excess of foods that are too tough on the blades or if something other than food gets lodged in the disposal.

Where to Start with Garbage Disposal Diagnosis

If your garbage disposal is not working, there are a few things you can try to troubleshoot the issue:

  1. Check if the garbage disposal is plugged in and turned on. If it is not, plug it in and turn it on.
  2. Check if the disposal is jammed. If it is, try to clear the jam by turning off the power to the disposal, using a flashlight to look inside the disposal, and removing any visible debris or foreign objects.
  3. Check if the disposal is clogged. If it is, try using a plunger to clear the clog. You can also use a plumbing snake to clear the clog.
  4. If none of these steps work, there may be a more serious issue with the disposal. In this case, it is best to call a professional plumber to diagnose and fix the problem.

What to Do About Garbage Disposal Leaks

Sometimes, leaks can indicate the beginning of a problem. If your garbage disposal is leaking, there are a few steps you can try to fix the problem:

  1. Check for loose connections: First, check for any loose connections, such as the connection between the disposal and the sink drain or between the disposal and the power supply. Tighten any loose connections.
  2. Check for a clog: If the disposal leaks from the bottom, it may be due to a clog. To check for a clog, use a flashlight to look into the disposal. If you see any foreign objects or debris, try to remove them with a pair of tongs or a disposable chopstick.
  3. Check the gasket: The gasket is a rubber seal that helps create a watertight seal between the disposal and the sink. If the gasket is damaged or worn, it may be causing the leak. 

To check the gasket, turn off the power to the disposal and remove the mounting ring holding the disposal to the sink. You should be able to see the gasket at this point. If the gasket is damaged, you will need to replace it.

  1. Check the mounting ring: If the mounting ring is loose or damaged, it may be causing the leak. To check the mounting ring, turn off the power to the disposal and then remove the disposal from the sink. Inspect the mounting ring for any signs of damage or looseness. If the mounting ring is damaged, you will need to replace it.

If none of these steps fix the leak, or if you need help locating the leak’s source, it is best to call a professional plumber for further assistance.

Checking the Electrical Connections 

If you’re experiencing issues with your garbage disposal showing no activity, you may be dealing with an electrical problem. In this case, you should locate the reset button on your disposal and try resetting it. 

Here is the safest way to reset your garbage disposal: 

  • Check to see if the garbage disposal is plugged in. 
  • Press the garbage disposal reset button underneath or around the unit, depending on your disposal. 
  • Check the main electrical panel to ensure the circuit breaker connected to the disposal is switched on. 
  • Keep items and hands clear of disposal and attempt to turn it on. 

If none of the above fixes your issue, you may need to contact a professional about garbage disposal repair services. Never attempt to repair electrical components on your own; this can be dangerous and should be left to the professionals. 

Checking for Jams in a Garbage Disposal 

Your garbage disposal not working could be a result of the blades attached to the impeller plate being jammed. Excess food waste can build up and clog the sink if the blades aren’t working well and don’t break down the food properly.

Here are some steps you can take to unclog your sink and unjam your disposal blades: 

**Note: it’s imperative that you’re extra careful when you’re working with your garbage disposal blades. Failure to safely troubleshoot issues with your garbage disposal can lead to serious injury to your hands. 

  • Unclog your kitchen sink by clearing out any standing water with a plunger or pouring excess water into a bucket. 
  • If you have a dishwasher: prevent dirty water from backflowing into the dishwasher line by clamping the flexible part of the drain line. 
  • Use a hex key in the blade access hole under the garbage disposal. 
  • Turn the hex key back and forth to rotate the blades until they move more freely and you feel the clog break up. 

Sometimes, you can spin the blades with something like a butter knife if the jam is minor. Make sure your disposal is turned off and unplugged before doing so. If this doesn’t work, you may need to follow the above steps or contact professionals who specialize in garbage disposal repair. 

Get in Touch With the Professionals at Salisbury Plumbing 

Sometimes, you can’t fix the issues you’re facing with your garbage disposal without the help of a professional. If you require a garbage disposal repair, reach out to Salisbury Plumbing. 

Our Lehi, Utah, plumbing experts specialize in water treatment systems, radiant heating, fire sprinklers and can even help you out with your garbage disposal needs. Find out why we’ve been the go-to plumbers for over 15 years; call us at 385-375-1207 or fill out our online form today. 

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