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Troubleshooting Trash Compactors

You can't turn off the compactor
Unit starts, but blows a fuse or trips the circuit breaker
The motor runs, but the trash isn't compacted
The compactor is unusually noisy
The unit smells unusual
Trash spills out of the unit


You can't turn off the compactor.

Check for:

  • No power reaching the outlet.
  • Defective electrical cord.
  • The safety lock is not on.
  • Open drawer.
  • Overloaded motor.
  • Defective switch.
  • Loose electrical connection.


  • Check the fuse box/circuit breaker.
  • Test the cord and replace it if damaged.
  • Turn on the safety lock.
  • Remove anything that keeps it from closing.
  • Remove the wall plug and allow 10 minutes for the motor to cool. Then, check the drive chain or drive belt and look for broken gears and worn ram screws.
  • To find the switches on your unit, check the owner's manual. Then test each switch.
  • Check every wire and connection.

Unit starts, but blows a fuse of trips the circuit breaker.

Check for:

  • Too many appliances on one circuit.
  • Short circuit in cord or plug.
  • Short circuit in switch.
  • Short circuit in motor.


  • Run the unit on its own circuit.
  • Test the plug and cord for continuity.
  • Test the switches for continuity.
  • Call a qualified contractor.

The motor runs, but the trash isn't compacted.

Check for:

  • Loose or broken drive chain.
  • Loose gears or pulleys.
  • The ram is seized up.


  • Check the chain for problems, then adjust or replace it.
  • Check the gears and pulleys, then tighten or replace them if necessary.
  • The ram screws need lubrication. If the screws are stripped, they must be replaced.

The compactor is unusually noisy.

Check for:

  • Loose drive chain.
  • The unit needs to be lubricated.
  • Loose parts.


  • Tighten the chain.
  • Lubricate the unit.
  • Check and tighten every bolt and screw.

The unit smells unusual.

Check for:

  • The deodorant is empty.
  • Clogged aerosol nozzle on the deodorant.


  • Replace the deodorant.
  • Clean the nozzle out with thin wire.

Trash spills out of the unit.

Check for:

  • Bag in wrong position.


  • Check the position of the bag and the clips that hold it.
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