How to Fix a Garbage Disposal – Simple Rules to Follow (2020)

Do you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen?

If yes, when was the last time you had to fix it? How did you do it and what was the problem? The chances are that you have been using one without any issues for many years. Apart from the usual need to reset, most units will run well for at least a couple of years without requiring any fixing. But this does not imply that they cannot develop issues.

So what do you do when yours needs some fixing?

Some of the common garbage disposal problems include failing to turn on, jamming, leaking, humming and draining slowly. Luckily, all these issues are easy to fix, and in most instances, you will not need to call in a professional or even spend any cash. Of course, you will need a few tools, some free time and be ready to get a little dirty.

Let’s jump into our simple tutorial on how to fix a garbage disposal by solving the common issues.

Garbage Disposal will Not Turn On

One of the common problems with garbage disposal is the unit failing to turn on. And this can be a result of various things, but it is one of the surest signs that the machine needs some fixing. Although in some cases a reset is enough, in many other situations you will need to do much more than this.

But, worry not because you can fix the problem in the following easy steps.

  • Step #1: Make Sure It Is Plugged In

Sounds so obvious, doesn’t it?

It is true this might be something obvious, but you will be surprised that the only reason why your machine is not running is that it is not plugged in correctly. Try to push the adapter back in or unplug it and plug it back in to ensure that the connection is okay.

  • Step #2 Reset It

Once you ascertain that the machine is plugged in well, you should try turning it on. If it will still not start operating, do a reset. After the rest, the button should pop out to indicate that the machine is ready to work.

  • Step #3 Check the Circuit Breaker

If the machine will still not work even after doing the reset, you should check the circuit breaker panel as it might be the source of the problem. If the circuit breaker has tripped and turned off your garbage disposal will not work.

Once you fix the issue on the circuit breaker panel, you should try turning on the machine to see if it will run. If there is still no operation, turn off the garbage disposal and check the switch as it might need replacing.

  • Step #4 Replace the Garbage Disposal

If you ascertain that there is no problem with the power source and that the circuit breaker has not tripped, the problem is with the garbage disposal unit. And if it is still not turning or making any noise then it might be beyond repair. When this is the case, you will have no option but to replace it.

One of the best replacement options is the Waste King Legend Series garbage disposal. This high-quality garbage disposal comes with a high-speed motor and is very easy to install and clean.
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Garbage Disposal is Leaking

Garbage disposal leaks are other common issues that can occur at different points of the system. And so the first step when dealing with the leakage is to identify the source or its location. But here are the most common places where leaks can develop and how to fix them

  • Discharge Drainpipe Leakage

  • If you notice a leakage on the discharge drainpipe the first step should be to check the bolts that connect it to the garbage disposal. Check for the tightness and ensure that they are not loose but also make sure that you do not over tighten them.
  • In case tightening the bolt does not solve the problem you will need to take out the pipe and the bolts/screws. After you do this, you should then replace the gasket as a worn out or punctured one might be the source of the leak.
  • After replacing the gasket, you should reinstall the pipe and all the bolts and tighten them. And this should solve the leak problem on the drainpipe.

  • Sink Flange Leakage

  • The first step when fixing a sink flange leakage is to turn off the garbage disposal at the electrical service panel. After doing this, you should then proceed to remove the unit from its mounting flange. You can do this by turning the disposal unit counterclockwise (from the bottom).
  • Next, tighten the mounting bolts because if they are loose, the disposer might leak. But, if you feel that they are tight enough the problem might be due to failed plumbers putty.
  • Failed plumbers putty is also a problem that you can fix. And to do this, you will need to loosen the bolts and push the sink flange upwards above the sink surface. You should then force the putty between the sink flange and sink while making sure it goes around the rim.
  • The last step is to tighten the mounting bolts to draw the sink flange to the sink surface tightly. Wipe out any excess putty that might ooze out and finish by reinstalling the disposal and powering it back on. The sink flange leakage should now be gone.

  • Dishwasher Connection Leaks

The connection between the garbage disposal unit and the dishwasher can also develop some leaks. But these are the easiest to fix. Start by tightening the clamp on the dishwasher hose which connects to the dishwasher inlet on your garbage disposal. Doing this should fix the leak.

But, if the leakage is on the hose you might need to replace it as there is no permanent way to fix this.

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Garbage Disposal Drains Slowly

What if your garbage disposal is draining slowly? Do you just ignore the problem and live with it that way?

Probably not! You will not always have the time to waste waiting for it to drain. So how do you fix this annoying garbage disposal issue? Check out the 3 easy-to-follow steps below to find out.

  • Step #1: Unbolt the Discharge Pipe

Since in most cases the slow drain is a result of a clog you will need to start by removing the bolt holding the discharge pipe that leads to the disposal unit. Next, disconnect the drain trap and remove it and the drain pipe.

  • Step #2: Check for Clogs

With the pipe and trap removed it should be easy for you to locate any obstructions or clogs in the system. If you find the clog, you should remove it and reassemble the garbage disposal. But, if you cannot see any clog, proceed to step 3 below.

  • Step #3: Use a Sink Auger Cable

If you do not see any obstruction or clog after removing the trap and pipe, then it means that it might be beyond the vertical pipe that goes into the wall or the line that directs the waste into the wall. And so you will need to use a sink auger to clear the clog. Once you do this, you should return the trap and pipe to their original position and make sure all the bolts are tight.

Your sink should now drain faster than before.

That is quite easy, isn’t it?

Note: The golden rule when fixing a garbage disposal is to make sure that you never put your hand in the hopper as you try to go down the drain to get to the garbage disposal. Doing this can lead to severe injuries or damage the machine.

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Prevention and Protection

Your garbage disposal is one of those things that help to keep your kitchen clean, and it is a very convenient machine that you use every day. And since you cannot afford any downtimes with this appliance the best thing that you can do is to prevent the problems. Prevention and protection are quite easy, and you only need to change some habits and avoid some things.

Here are some garbage disposal prevention tips to help you out.

  • Use cold water when disposing or grinding the leftover food because hot water can melt the fats which will subsequently harden on the pipes and cause clogs.
  • Grind the waste in small batches to avoid overfilling the system because putting too many items at a go is one of the things that cause problems.
  • Do not use your machine to grind materials that are overly fibrous such as coffee grounds and bones. Also, make sure you read the manual to find out what you can put in the garbage disposal and what to avoid.
  • Maintain your machine by grinding lemon peel pieces and ice cubes regularly. For even better maintenance of the appliance, you can use a commercial cleaner like the Plink Garbage Disposal Cleaner. This commercial cleaning agent will clean the entire system to prevent clogs and also deodorize it so that you get a fresh and pleasant smell in the room.


What would you do without your garbage disposal in the kitchen?

In truth, cleaning and disposing of leftover foods and other wastes would be a tedious process. And now that you know how to fix a garbage disposal or the common issues that it can develop, you should never stress over it not functioning correctly. Whether it is a simple leak or a slow drain, there is always a solution and with our detailed steps above no garbage disposal problem is too big for you.

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  1. I had no idea that garbage disposals could be reset. It makes sense that since they work so much with your garbage they would need to be reset once in a while. We need a new disposal and want to make sure we find the best one for our home, so I’ll make sure to consult a professional and follow your advice.


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