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Troubleshooting Garbage Disposals

Safety Tip
Troubleshooting a Garbage Disposal
You can't turn on the motor.
Motor hums, but unit doesn't grind.
The disposal continuously blows fuses.
You can't stop the disposal.
The disposal drains slowly.
The disposal is making an unusual amount of noise.
There is a leak in the disposal.

 

The two types of garbage Disposals are:

  • Batch Feed - Activated by turning a stopper.
  • Continuous Feed - Activated by a wall switch.

Problems usually involve jams or clogs, or occasionally leaks.

Safety Tip

If dismantling the Disposal or working on electrical connections, shut off power at the main disconnect. Never put your hand in the Disposal. Use pliers or tongs to remove an object. Never pour a chemical drain cleaner into a Disposal.

Troubleshooting a Garbage Disposal

  • If your Disposal makes a loud whirring noise or stops, it has jammed. Turn it off and wait 5 minutes, then firmly press the reset button on the bottom of the motor housing. (Machines without buttons reset automatically).
  • If the Disposal still doesn't work, see if it's designed to be unjammed from below. It may have a small crank or a socket for an Allen wrench to turn the flywheel. Or it may have a reversing switch
  • Lacking these, angle a broom handle against an impeller blade and work the blade back and forth until the jam dislodges. Then press the reset button.
  • To cure a clog, disassemble the trap and use a snake.
  • Water dripping from the Disposal usually indicates one or more seals are worn and need to be replaced.
  • Helpful Hint When professional help is required, take the Disposal to the repair service to avoid paying for a service call. To remove it, separate it from the drain elbow and loosen the mounting screws to release it from the support flange.
  • For best service from your Disposal, run cold water during disposal and for a minute after.
  • Never put glass, metal or rubber in the Disposal.
  • Disposals vary, so consult your owner's manual.

You can't turn on the motor.

Check for:

  • No power.
  • Defective on/off switch.
  • Tripped overload protector switch.
  • Defective motor.

Remedies:

  • Check the fuse box/circuit breaker, and if the disposal is plugged into a wall outlet, check the outlet.
  • On continuous feed models, check the wall switch.
  • On batch-feed models, check he stopper switch.
  • If the flywheel is jammed, free it. Then, push the reset button.
  • Call a qualified contractor.

Motor hums, but unit doesn't grind.

Check for:

  • Jammed flywheel.
  • Frozen motor bearings

Remedies:

  • Free the flywheel.
  • Call a qualified contractor. You'll probably have to buy a new unit.

The disposal continuously blows fuses.

Check for:

  • Too many appliances plugged into the circuit.

Remedy:

  • Install a 15-amp circuit just for the disposal.

You can't stop the disposal.

Check for:

  • Defective on/off switch.

Remedy:

  • Call a qualified contractor.

The disposal drains slowly.

Check for:

  • Not enough water.
  • Clogged drain line.
  • Disposal isn't grinding finely enough.

Remedies:

  • Run more cold water when using the disposal.
  • Don't use harsh chemical agents.
  • Flush with hot water to remove a grease clog, then remove the drainpipe and clear it.
  • Replace a dull shredder ring or any broken flyweights.

The disposal is making an unusual amount of noise.

Check for:

  • Metallic object in the unit.
  • Loose mounting screws are loose.
  • Broken flyweight.
  • The motor is defective.

Remedies:

  • Inspect the unit and fish out the object with thongs or forceps.
  • Tighten the mounting screws.
  • Replace the broken flywheel.
  • Call a qualified contractor.

There is a leak in the disposal.

Check for:

  • Loose sink connection.
  • Loose drain connection.
  • Damaged housing gasket.

Remedies:

  • Tighten the flanges holding the gaskets or replace the gaskets.
  • Tighten the drain flanges or replace the drain gasket.
  • Replace the gasket.
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