When your garbage disposal stops working and you don’t know why, it’s natural to feel frustrated. A broken trash can means more inconvenience in using your kitchen, at least until it’s fixed. But why wait for a plumber if you don’t have to?
If you know the most common problems that prevent garbage disposal from working properly and how to fix them, it’s not so bad that your garbage disposal has stopped working – solve the problem quickly and solve it yourself – same thing!
Wisler Plumbing & Air explains the causes of common garbage disposal problems that homeowners in the Roanoke, Salem area often face and what you can do to fix them without calling us. If your garbage collection has stopped working, we encourage you to try our troubleshooting tips before calling us. If you find you need a plumber’s help to fix the problem, contact us and we’ll quickly dispatch a qualified plumber to help!
Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn On
If your garbage disposal has stopped working and won’t turn on at all, problems with the unit’s power source are possible causes. Or it’s likely that the waste disposal has been overloaded, causing the reset switch to trip to avoid damage.
- Check that the garbage disposal is turned on and plugged in.
- Locate the reset button under the garbage collector – if the button is off, the garbage collector is probably no longer working because it has tripped its built-in circuit breaker, most likely due to an overload.
- Press the reset button – if it doesn’t stick, wait about 10 minutes and try again. If the reset button remains pressed, turn on the waste disposal power switch to see if the device restarts.
- Check your home’s circuit breaker – make sure the garbage disposal circuit hasn’t tripped and reset the circuit breaker if necessary.
- Check Wall Switch Removal – Remove switch plate and check for loose connections, tighten if necessary.
- Check the point where these wires connect to the device. They may have become loose due to vibration from waste disposal and need to be tightened.
If your garbage disposal has stopped working and still won’t turn on after these steps, contact your plumber. Your installer can assess the light and its electrical connections to determine what the problem is that is preventing the light from working. If the problem cannot be solved, your installer will help you choose a new appliance and install your new grinder.
Garbage Disposal Stopped Working
If you turn on the power button and the trash can hums but does nothing, the trash can flywheel is probably stuck. If you encounter this problem, stop shredding immediately! If it continues to run through a jam, the motor can burn out and permanently damage the device, and you’ll need a new cartridge.
Before attempting to troubleshoot this possible reason why your garbage disposal has stopped working, turn off the device at your home’s electrical panel to avoid accidents. Make sure the power is off at the distribution panel and also turn off the wall switch for garbage disposal.
- Use the key that came with your garbage disposal – insert it into the rotating hole at the bottom of the lower grinding chamber.
- Turn the key clockwise – this will help remove objects that are jamming the flywheel or impeller from the waste disposal. When the jam is released, you can turn the key freely.
- Find a long stick, like the handle of a wooden spoon or other wooden kitchen utensil, and insert it into the drain hole. Maneuver the stick like a lever to free the stuck steering wheel. When working, the steering wheel turns slightly.
- Turn on a flashlight in the trash and look for the material that caught the flywheel — often it’s a bone or utensil that accidentally ended up in the sewer.
- Use pliers to grab the item and pull out.
After clearing the jam, turn the power back on at the house electrical panel. In the recycle bin, press the reset button on the bottom of the device. Run cold water down the drain for a few minutes while flicking the wall switch on and off in short bursts. This should flush any material left in the chamber down the drain and out of the trash can.
If your garbage disposal doesn’t work after this process, call your plumber for repairs. He or she is able to remove difficult objects if present. Or, your plumber will inspect your fitting to identify other causes of flywheel sticking, rust, or corrosion.
Garbage Disposal Smokes
If you experience the flywheel humming and locking described above, the unit may start smoking when the garbage disposal has stopped working. The smoke may be from engine roasting, necessitating a replacement of your garbage disposal. Or it could be a fried circuit that could be repaired.
Turn off the power to the grinder first, then follow the troubleshooting steps below:
- Remove the bottom lid from the trash can.
- Examine the wires connected to the garbage disposal – are there any burnt wires?
- If the wires are burned, remove the burnt part of the wire and the damaged wire insulation.
- Attach the wires to the appropriate terminals.
- Reattach the bottom cover.
- Restore power and test the device.
If that doesn’t fix the problem, or if you’re not happy with the wiring after your garbage disposal has been shut off, call your plumber. Your installer can assess if the unit can be repaired or if the motor has actually burned out and the entire garbage disposal needs to be replaced.
Garbage Disposal Does Not Drain
If your garbage disposal has stopped working to clear the drain, you likely have a clog. If the unit turns on but water is backing up in the sink or not flowing down the drain at all, this problem indicates a clogged drain hose from the garbage collection or refuse disposal device.
Follow these steps to determine why your garbage pickup has stopped working:
- Clear out the trash in your sink. Pick it up and throw it in the trash.
- With about 2 inches of water in the sink, use a plunger to dip the drain. Apply medium pressure and ensure a tight seal with the plunger completely covering the drain hole. This may clear the clog completely, but if not, continue with the next steps.
- Check the drain for clogs. If you see anything, pull it out with a pair of tongs or tongs. After removing the material, turn on the water and turn the disposer back on to see if the drain flows easily. Otherwise, continue.
- Go under the sink, put a bucket under it and unscrew the screws that attach the drain hose to the device.
- Disconnect the disposal siphon and remove the disposal siphon with the drain line. Examine and eliminate the obstacles in this line. If no obstruction is found in this line, the clog may be in the sink drain.
- Use a flushing auger in the drain line to clear the clog.
- If you can remove the plug, reassemble the siphon and drain pipe.
- Run water and turn on the disposer’s power switch to test the drain.
When your efforts to unclog and restore flow through your garbage truck aren’t working, it’s time to call a plumber for help. There is likely a clog further down the drain line that needs to be cleared before your garbage disposal can drain properly.
Avoid clogging in the future and avoid a garbage disposal stop working situation by practicing good garbage disposal usage habits.
- Always use plenty of cold water when disposing of rubbish.
- Run the water and garbage disposal for a few seconds after the food debris has finished grinding to fully flush the material down the drain line.
- Use a drain strainer to prevent unwanted items from going down the garbage disposal. Leave it positioned over the waste drain until you are ready to use the waste drop.
- Cut the material into small pieces before throwing it in the trash.
Garbage Disposal Repair Service from Wisler Plumbing & Air
When your garbage disposal has stopped working and you can’t fix the problem, it’s time to let a professional fix your plumbing. Wisler Plumbing & Air’s licensed plumbing technicians will examine your equipment to determine the exact reason your refuse collection service is down and make the necessary repairs to get it working again or install a new unit if desired.
Call Wisler Plumbing & Air today for garbage disposal repairs or replacements in Roanoke, Salem and throughout the Virginia area!