You’ve eaten dinner and washed the dishes. Now all that’s left is to turn on the garbage disposal and call it a night, except there appears to be a problem with the unit.
Is it jammed or clogged? There are several reasons your garbage disposal isn’t working. There’s no need to call your plumber over just yet, though.
Luckily garbage disposals are often easy to fix.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the common garbage disposal problems and how to fix them. Unplugging the garbage disposal and wearing protective equipment is generally a good idea.
Troubleshooting an InSinkErator Garbage Disposal Problems
The first step in repairing a broken garbage disposal is determining the source of the problem. You can do this by observing what your unit is or isn’t doing.
There are six common problems with garbage disposals. Once you notice any of those problems, there’s no need to worry. They’re easily fixable.
Materials to Use
There are a few tools you should have on hand when identifying and fixing a garbage disposal problem.
After identifying the main issue, you can grab your tools, and let’s look at how to fix the garbage disposal.
How to Fix an InSinkErator Garbage Disposal That Won’t Turn On
If you turn on the garbage disposal switch and nothing happens, it’s probably not receiving electricity.
Begin with the most likely solution: plug in the garbage disposal. It’s quite common for people to forget to re-plug their units after unplugging them.
You should also make sure that the electrical outlet isn’t busted by testing it with another home appliance. If the outlet isn’t working, you can reset the kitchen’s circuit breaker.
This previous step will also work on InSinkErator garbage disposals that are hardwired to an electrical circuit rather than by a plug.
The next thing you can do is look for the reset button on the unit’s underside and press it. Generally, this simple button is all that’s needed for the disposal to work again.
How to Fix a Garbage Disposal That Hums But Doesn’t Grind: remove clogs
When you turn your garbage disposal on and hear humming, you should immediately turn it off from the circuit breaker or by unplugging it. If left on for long, the motor may burn out.
At first, you might be tempted to use chemical drain cleaners to unclog the entire system, but it’s best to avoid them as much as possible. These chemicals frequently fail to solve common disposal issues, leaving you with a sink full of toxic substances.
What’s more, these chemical cleaners can cause damage to the entire unit and void the warranty.
Here’s how to unjam a garbage disposal:
- Unplug the disposal unit and turn off the power source
- Look under the sink at the bottom of the unit for a hex-shaped hole and, with a hex wrench, turn it clockwise to dislodge whatever is stuck inside
- With a pair of tongs or pliers, reach inside the sink drain and pull out the clogged material
- Turn on the power supply, then press the disposal red reset button
- After your disposal starts working, you can fill it with ice and a cup of rock salt, then turn it on for five seconds. This process should clean away any built-up muck and debris.
If the Garbage Disposal Doesn’t Drain or Drains Slowly
If the water in the sink takes too long to drain or stands still, it indicates the garbage disposal is clogged.
You can unclog the unit by opening it up and removing big items from it, and the water should drain normally right away. It is also possible that the drains behind the garbage disposal are blocked. We have discussed how you can unclog a kitchen sink drain here. This should fix the problem.
How to Fix a Garbage Disposal That Doesn’t Grind Properly
If you notice that your disposal isn’t grinding well, you may need to increase the water flow while the unit is running.
One essential tip is to run water whenever you turn on the garbage disposal. The water breaks down food particles and sends them down the drain smoothly.
You should also make sure that the garbage disposal isn’t trying to grind something it shouldn’t, such as a large bone or a banana peel.
If this is the case, you should remove the stuck debris. You can also pour a baking soda and vinegar solution down the drain, allow it to foam for a couple of minutes, then rinse it with running water.
If all else fails, the impellers might be broken. You can tell if the unit is turned on but it’s not grinding.
In this case, it’s usually easier and less expensive to replace the entire disposal unit rather than just the impellers.
How to Fix a Garbage Disposal That’s Leaking
Garbage disposal leaks can occur in a variety of locations. Luckily, you’ll most likely only need to tighten a few connections.
Leak at the Sink-Mounting Flange
The most common place for leaking is the sink-mounting flange. Over time, the vibration from the garbage disposal loosens the mounting system that holds the unit to the sink drain.
After you turn off the power and water supply, turn the disposal mounting ring under the sink counter-clockwise and remove the garbage disposal from the sink flange.
With a screwdriver or a wrench, tighten the flange’s bolt to the sink. If the bolts are already tight, loosen them and slightly push the sink flange above the sink’s surface.
Add a ring of plumber’s putty around the sink flange, then re-tighten the mounting bolts, pulling the sink flange tight to the sink surface.
If there’s any excess plumber’s putty oozing out, you can wipe it off.
All that’s left is to put back the garbage disposal in place and turn on the water as well as the power supply. When you turn on the water in the sink, there should be no leaking.
Leak at the Drainpipe
First, you should tightly fasten the bolts that hold the waste water pipe to the disposal. If this step doesn’t work, the problem may be with the gasket.
For anyone who’s had a garbage disposal for a while, the gasket that connects the drainpipe to the plastic waste water pipe may have worn out.
If you don’t have an exact gasket replacement, you should go to a home improvement store near you and get the right one.
Begin by turning off the water supply to your kitchen. Then, unscrew the bolts and remove the plastic pipe. Peel off the gasket seal and install the new one, making sure that it pops in the same place.
Lastly, insert the plastic pipe back and tighten the bolts. Check to ensure that there’s no longer any leaking after turning on the water supply and the garbage disposal.
Leak at the Dishwasher Connection
The rattling from the dishwasher can unscrew the clamp that connects the plastic pipe to the garbage disposal. All you have to do is tighten the pipe clamp, and the leaking should stop.
If the pipe seems old and worn out, it’s better to replace it before it starts leaking again.
What Not to Put in Your Garbage Disposal
While it can seem like your garbage disposal can make everything disappear, they’re actually not designed to break down every type of waste.
Here’s what you shouldn’t put in your garbage disposal:
- Starchy food, such as pasta, bread, potatoes, and rice
- Large or thick bones
- Large pits
- Stringy vegetables
- Hot water
- Coffee grounds
- Cooking oils, fat, and grease
- Peanut butter
Any of these foods or liquids can dull the grinders, clump up, gunk up, and clog the garbage disposal.
What’s more, a broken device due to grinding the wrong materials can void some garbage disposal warranties.
The horror scenarios we associate with garbage disposals are completely made up by Hollywood. Garbage disposals, in reality, don’t have razor-sharp blades. They have blunt impellers so shouldn’t hurt too much.
That said, you should never put your fingers or hands down a garbage disposal. Even if you’ve unplugged the disposal or turned off the power, never reach inside.
In most cases, the problem with a garbage disposal is one that you can fix yourself without the need for special skills or professional help.
Once you identify the exact issue with the unit, you can become your own skilled handyman and start dismantling or tightening a few bolts here and there.
InSinkErator’s are great garbage disposals. Sometimes they can get jammed and need to be reset though or other fixes are needed.
The main problems are leaks, incorrect installation (including not hanging it level), or adding the wrong items in it. Plumbers often get called to fix garbage disposals as they tend to break down over time.
Garbage disposals are often connected to the sink and dishwasher. This can also cause problems as they have to process a lot of water.
A well-maintained garbage disposal can last up to 15 years. Given that these appliances are often used every single day, they are a good investment.
Most plumbers are able to service this brand and some even have replacement parts with them. This makes it an easy and fast repair. If you want to repair it yourself, you can always reach out to the company.
Just make sure that you follow the safety instructions in the manual as you are dealing with water and electricity at the same time. This can result in dangerous situations.
That said, it’s completely normal to be unsure of how to fix the garbage disposal yourself. You can always hire a plumber to take care of this issue for you.