Garbage disposals are a wonderful thing. They help dispose of waste, like uneaten food, by shredding it into small pieces which makes it easier to pass through the drain pipe. While garbage disposals have certainly made our lives easier, one thing is for sure, when they aren’t working properly, garbage disposals can be extremely frustrating and annoying.

Garbage disposals, like all other appliances with moving parts, can stop working if something goes wrong. When this happens troubleshooting will have to be done to determine the problem. Luckily for homeowners, a disposal  — unlike other appliances  — is quick and relatively simple to fix as long as you follow the proper methods. While disposal problems can be avoided with proper garbage disposal care, they can happen from time to time. To help other solve their disposal issues, we are going to cover three of the most common garbage disposal problems and quick fixes for each. The next time your garbage disposal is experiencing a problem, follow this guide to see if you can troubleshoot and get your disposal up and running!

Common Garbage Disposal Problem #1: Clog

Clogs are by far the most common garbage disposal problem we see. When there is standing water in your sink after using the faucet that takes longer than it should to drain, it is likely due to there being a clog in the kitchen sink pipe. Clogs are common in waste disposals because many different materials can cause clogs to occur, like grease, food remains, coffee grounds, and more. Depending on what caused the disposal to clog, a foul smell may be omitted from the disposal area, some smells are bad enough to make standing in your kitchen unbearable. While the purpose of garbage disposals is to shred up enough debris and waste so that it won’t clog, some materials just aren’t meant to be put down the drain, which in turn causes clogs to happen.

How to fix it

Is your garbage disposal clogged? When this happens, the first step is to turn off the garbage disposal. If you can access the electrical cord that powers the disposal it may be beneficial to unplug it. Once the disposal is turned off, the sink should be filled with warm, soapy water. A cup plunger should then be used to plunge the sink between 30 seconds and one minute. If you cleared the clog, the once standing water will begin to go down the drain at a normal speed. If the clog is still clearly present, it may have to be removed by taking out the ‘p’ or ‘s’ shaped trap underneath the sink in order to reach the clog with a brush or drain snake.

Common Garbage Disposal Problem #2: Won’t turn on

Sometimes homeowners will find that their disposal won’t turn on. In this case, the unit probably isn’t getting power and is an electrical problem. The first step is to check the electrical cord to the unit to ensure that is completely inserted into the electrical outlet. If it is, the electrical box should be inspected to ensure that the circuit breaker did not trip. If both the electrical plug and circuit breaker do not seem to be the culprit, it is time to move on to further troubleshooting.

How to fix it

Be sure to first check the reset button at the bottom of the unit. If the disposal requires resetting the button will be popped out of the unit. If the disposal doesn’t need resetting, and the other quick fixes do not provide a solution, that means the outlet is either dead, the breaker isn’t working properly, or the disposal itself needs to be replaced. You may even want to consider calling a plumbing company that specializes in garbage disposal repair.

Complete Plumbing and Rooter Tip: Remember, never stick your hand into a garbage disposal unit.

Common Garbage Disposal Problem #3: Odd sounds

Its common for people’s garbage disposals to make weird noises that are not normal. In most cases, the disposals motor can be heard humming, but if the disposal’s blades seem to not be turning, or is louder — and sometimes quieter — than normal it is likely because there is a jam. A jam in a garbage disposal occurs when debris or waste is lodged in the flywheel, the disposals rotating plate, making it unable to move.

How to fix it

When a disposal is making weird noises, the first step to fixing the problem is to turn off and unplug the unit. Next, you’ll need the wrench that came with the disposal unit. If you live in a rental unit, you may not have access to this tool, which in this case you can either purchase a replacement or use an allen wrench that fits in the hex-shaped opening. After locating the opening, insert the tool and turn it clockwise to dislodge the object blocking the flywheel. Once the object is dislodged it will be easy to feel the rotating plate turn. When this happens, reset the unit and run water while turning the unit on and off repeatedly.

Not being able to use your garbage disposal whenever you need to can quickly become frustrating. Luckily, knowing these common garbage disposal problems and their quick fixes will have you better prepared to solve the issue!

Still experiencing problems? We can help!

If you are experiencing any problems with your garbage disposal unit and the information above did not solve the problem, you may need to contact a professional plumbing company to perform garbage disposal repair.  And if you are in need of a Southern California plumbing company, look no further than Complete Plumbing and Rooter! To learn more about our plumbing service or to receive a free estimate, contact us!