How to Fix a Garbage Disposal

Garbage Disposal
Trying to figure out how to fix your garbage disposal, or even why you need to fix it? The truth is that despite the word garbage being in the name of this item, treating the kitchen disposal like a garbage can will lead to problems down the line.

This built-in-your-sink kitchen appliance is not designed to handle garbage. Improper use and overreliance on disposal can cause it to stop working optimally.

In your attempt to get your garbage disposal operating as it should, it’s important to know what is OK to put down the receptacle and what needs to go in the trash can instead. Below, we cover that and give you some tips regarding quick DIY garbage disposal repair.

Simple Steps for Fixing Your Garbage Disposal

Fixing garbage disposal on your own is completely possible. You should only need professional help if your disposal is truly broken and needs to be replaced entirely.

To repair garbage disposal on your own, follow these steps:

  1. Press the red or black “reset” button on the bottom of the appliance. Run the disposal again to see if it works.
  2. If pressing “reset” on your garbage disposal doesn’t work, check to see if a fuse is blown or the circuit breaker is tripped. If it has been tripped, reset the breaker.
  3. If there appears to be a jam within the disposal, look at the bottom of your disposal unit. Some disposals have an accessible area on the bottom to use a hex wrench to free a jam by spinning the grinding chamber. An alternate method is to use a broom handle from inside the sink to spin the grinding chamber to clear the jam. Be sure the electric switch is in the OFF position before attempting either of these methods.
  4. Learn how to unclog a garbage disposal.

The Dos and Don’ts of Garbage Disposal Use

A malfunctioning garbage disposal is a major inconvenience. However, most issues are completely avoidable. Handle your disposal with care, and it will work well for you for years to come. Here are the “Dos and Don’ts” of what goes down the garbage disposal, so you can ensure you get the longest lifespan possible from the appliance.

These items DO go down the disposal:
  • Small biodegradable food items – This includes food scraps, such as pieces of fruit, veggies, bread, or meat. It’s important for these items to be small. Any larger pieces should go into your trash can.
  • Cut-up pieces of larger food items – Ideally, throw them in one piece at a time to avoid clogging the disposal.
  • Cold running water – Running cold water from the faucet while the drain operates causes any residual oil or grease to solidify so the grinder can chop it up before it enters the trap of the disposal.
  • Dish soap – Squirting a little dish soap down the disposal, turning on the cold water, and letting it run for a minute is an easy way to clean the receptacle.
The following items DO NOT go down the disposal:
  • Glass, metal, plastic, or even paper products – If a glass breaks in the sink, do not try to grind up even the smallest shards.
  • Cigarette butts or anything combustible.
  • Large animal bones – Most animal bones are too hard for your disposal. Anything bigger than fish bones should be thrown in your trash can.
  • Coffee grounds – While not a problem for the garbage disposal itself, the grounds may accumulate inside the pipe and lead to clogging.
  • Large amounts of fat, oil, or grease – These can solidify and accumulate, potentially clogging your drain.
  • Fibrous food items – Fibers from items like cornhusks, onion skins, artichokes, and celery stalks can get tangled in the blades and motor or clog drains.
  • Fish skins and eggshells.
  • Too many potato peels – While a small amount should be OK, too much produces starch that transforms into a thick, sticky paste that prevents the blades from working correctly.
  • Expandable foods, including rice and pasta – When you add water, these items expand, which can lead to clogs within the disposal and pipes.
  • Harsh drain cleaners and chemicals – These items damage the disposal blades and pipes.

Call Your Local Mr. Rooter for Garbage Disposal Repair

Sometimes, garbage disposal reaches the end of its life. This can happen even if you’ve taken excellent care of it. When this happens, you need to have a new garbage disposal installed as soon as possible to get your kitchen back into working order.

For painless garbage disposal repair, trust Mr. Rooter's local plumbing technicians to get the job done right. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to fix a garbage disposal yourself or need professional assistance, we’re here for you. Call to schedule an appointment or request an estimate online today.