Garbage Disposal not working: How to fix it?

A garbage disposal is essentially a device installed in your kitchen sink’s drain and the basket which disposes of food waste in an efficient and sanitary manner by cutting down it into pieces small enough to pass through the drainage system. 

But, what happens when your trusty garbage disposal stops working? Not only inconvenience but it can also contribute to unpleasant aroma around your kitchen due to the accumulated food waste. In this blog, we will learn some additional common issues with garbage disposals and how to troubleshoot them. 

Common Issues of Non-functional Garbage Disposal

A common issue that may occur in your garbage disposal if it not working. These causes are as follows:

Power Issues

In some cases, it can be something as easy as having no capability to remove your waste. This can be due to a broken circuit breaker or a disconnected device. So earlier than you run into hard problems, ensure you power up your disposal machine.

Jammed Disposal

Another unusual trouble is a clogged disposal device. Placing too many tough objects, consisting of bones or hen nuggets, in the exhaust can clog your unit, stopping it from warping. Fear not, there is a way to restore this. Your garbage disposal ought to come with a small key that you may manually change and clear the jam.

Worn Out Blades

If power and jamming are not the problem, there can be harm to the blades or wiring for your garbage disposal. In this example, you may replace them or get a cutting-edge unit. 

Leaking Disposal

A leaking disposal can indicate several potential issues, each with its unique solution. It might be due to loose sink flange, damaged gaskets, or broken drain lines. Re-tightening the flange, replacing the gaskets, or repairing the drain pipe could resolve this problem. For a detailed guide on how to address these issues, you can read more in our comprehensive blog on fixing a leaking garbage disposal. Additionally, if these solutions don’t work, you might have to replace your garbage disposal. 

Overheating disposal

Overheating is a common issue with waste disposal that can cause downtime. This usually happens when the exhaust system is overworked or there is no ventilation. Turning off the power and letting the vents breathe and cool can usually fix this problem.

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Dull Blades

Your disposal might not be working as efficiently as usual if the blades have become dull. Regular usage can cause this problem over time. To tackle this, isolate the power, then manually rotate the blades using a wrench to dislodge any possible jams. Run a few ice cubes through the disposal after to help sharpen the blades. If this does not help, you might have to consider blade replacement or garbage disposal replacement. 

Getting to the Root: Addressing a Clogged Garbage Disposal

When you are facing a clogged garbage disposal, it feels like you are in trouble and doing a daunting task to tackle. A clogged garbage disposal is not the most pleasant of household problems. It is certainly one you can attempt to fix yourself before calling in a professional. 

If after removing visible debris your garbage disposal is still clogged, it is time to utilize a plunger. Drape a wet cloth over the drain opening in the adjacent sink to create a strong suction, then fill the garbage disposal sink with enough water to cover the bell-shaped part of the plunger. Position the plunger over the drain and start plunging forcefully for about a minute. 

In case your garbage disposal remains clogged, consider using a garbage disposal wrench or wooden spoon to manually turn the blades and break up the remaining obstruction.

If all these efforts are fruitless and your garbage disposal is still not functioning correctly, it may be time to enlist the help of professional ways or experts. Clogs may indicate a deeper issue in your disposal system that requires the deep attention of the user.

How to Fix a Garbage Disposal That Won’t Turn On

So you press the switch, but your garbage disposal does not turn on? There is no worry. We will address you through a step-by-step process to troubleshoot and fix this common problem. Remember, safety comes first. Make sure that the garbage disposal is unplugged from the power source before starting any repairs.

Step 1:  Check the Overload

Your garbage disposal is equipped with a protective coating that shuts off the motor if it overloads. Locate the red button on the bottom of the exhaust unit and press it. If it clicks and stays in place, the overload guard has slipped. If not, your problems are likely tied to the power supply.

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Step 2: Check the Power Source

This sounds simple but is often overlooked – confirm that the exhaust is properly installed and if so, try installing additional equipment in the filter to ensure that it works or not. If you confirm how the outlet works, it may be time to examine your exhaust electrical wiring.

Step 3: Check for Electrical Wiring

First, disconnect the power supply. Now check the wiring under the exhaust. If the seams seem loose, tighten them. If they overheat or are damaged, hire an electrician to fix the problem. Attempting to deal with electrical repairs without proper knowledge can be dangerous.

Step 5: Reset the Disposal

Sometimes the problem can be fixed by resetting your garbage disposal. On the bottom of the disposal, you will find a red or black button. This is the reset button. If it is sticking out or looks popped out, press it back into place. For a more detailed, step-by-step guide on this process, you can refer to our How to Reset a Garbage Disposal: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide. After you have done this process then test your garbage disposal. If it does not work still, move on to the other step of repairing. 

Step 6: Removing the Disposer from the system

This should be your last resort. If none of the other solutions work and your disposal needs a replacement, you will need to remove the old unit. Unplug the disposal from the system. Then, look for the connecting ring that attaches the disposal to the sink. Twist it counterclockwise. Once it’s loose, you should be able to remove the disposal. Be prepared for any residual waste and water that might come out when you remove the disposal. After removal, a new one can now be installed. 

Step 7: Installing a New Disposal

If your old garbage disposal cannot be repaired then install a new one. When choosing a new disposal, consider its grinding ability, noise level, and whether it has auto-reversing functionality for clearing jams. Replacement of your garbage disposal may seem troublesome, but with the right tool, caution, and maybe some help, you can get it done.


In conclusion, a non-functional garbage disposal can be an issue in your daily kitchen routine but it is not a prolonged problem. With a little understanding of your disposal and some basic troubleshooting skills, you could potentially fix this issue yourself. Keep in mind that dealing with appliances comes with risks. Always ensure you prioritize safety above all else. 

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Moreover, do not hesitate to seek professional help if the problem is beyond your understanding. Consistent issues could indicate a need for replacement. Professional installation is often the safest and most effective route. Utilize our step-by-step guide as a starting point, ensuring you’re not left with a disposal headache. 

Remember, your garbage disposal is an incredibly useful appliance when it is not working correctly. Regular maintenance and timely problem-solving contribute to running smoothly. And you will enjoy minimal disruptions to your kitchen routine.

What should I do if my garbage disposal won’t turn on?

If your garbage disposal won’t turn on, first make sure it’s plugged in. Then, press the reset button usually found on the bottom. If it’s still not working, check your home’s electrical panel for a tripped circuit breaker. Always be careful and never put your hand inside the disposal.

How can I unclog my garbage disposal?

To unclog your garbage disposal, first, turn it off. Then, use a flashlight to look for any visible objects causing the clog. If you see something, use tongs or pliers to remove it. Next, use a hex key to manually turn the disposal to dislodge the clog. Always be careful and never put your hand inside.

Can I sharpen the blades of my garbage disposal?

No, you shouldn’t sharpen the blades of your garbage disposal. The blades are made of strong metal and designed to grind food waste, not to be sharpened. Trying to sharpen them can be dangerous and may damage the disposal. If the blades become dull, it’s best to consult a professional for maintenance.

What are common signs that my garbage disposal needs to be replaced?

Common signs that your garbage disposal needs to be replaced include frequent clogs, strange noises, leaks, and a bad smell that won’t go away. If you notice these signs and the disposal is old, it might be time for a new one.

Is it safe to fix a garbage disposal myself?

Fixing a garbage disposal yourself can be safe for small issues, like clogs or resets. Always turn off the power and never put your hands inside. For bigger problems like leaks or electrical issues, it’s safer to get help from an adult or a professional. Safety first!

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