How to Reset a Garbage Disposal A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

garbage disposal is a useful kitchen appliance that grinds up food scraps, preventing sink clogs. Like any electrical device, it might encounter issues requiring a reset. In this guide, we’ll learn how to reset a garbage disposal for optimal performance.

Understanding Your Garbage Disposal

Before we dive into the reset procedure, let’s understand how your garbage disposal works. A garbage disposal is a motorized unit that grinds up food waste and flushes it down the drain. The disposal unit is connected to a power source via electrical wiring and has a reset button that can be used to fix any issues.

Signs Your Garbage Disposal Needs a Reset

There are a few common signs that your garbage disposal may need a reset, such as, The disposal unit is not functioning at all, The disposal unit is jammed or clogged, The disposal unit is making unusual noises, The disposal unit is leaking.

Safety First Turn Off the Power

Before proceeding with the reset process, safety must always come first. Keep the following safety measures in mind.

Power Off

Ensure that the garbage disposal is completely turned off. This can be done by either unplugging it from the power source or switching off the circuit breaker connected to it

Never use your hands 

Never attempt to reset the garbage disposal with your hands. Always use tools such as a wooden spoon, pliers, or an Allen wrench to reach the reset button or remove any blockages.

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Locating the Reset Button

Find the reset button on your garbage disposal unit. It’s usually a small red or black button positioned on the bottom or side of the device. If you’re unsure about its exact location, refer to the manufacturer’s manual.

Step-by-Step Reset Process

Follow these step-by-step instructions to reset your garbage disposal.

1. Power Off

Make sure the disposal is completely powered off. You can unplug it or switch off the circuit breaker connected to it.

Locate the Reset Button

Once the disposal is turned off, find the reset button. It is usually located on the bottom or side of the garbage disposal unit.

Press and Hold

  • Use a long tool like a wooden spoon or an Allen wrench to reach the reset button.
  • Hold down the reset button for ten to fifteen seconds. This action will reset the garbage disposal and clear any potential blockages.

Clear Obstructions

  • After releasing the reset button, check the disposal for obvious blockages (like food particles).
  • Use pliers to carefully remove any materials that may be blocking the blades or hindering the disposal’s function. Avoid touching it directly with your hands.

Testing Your Reset Garbage Disposal

Once you’ve completed the reset and checked for obstructions, follow these steps:

Restore Power

Plug the garbage disposal back into the power source or switch on the circuit breaker that you turned off earlier.

Test Run

  • Run water in the sink and turn on the garbage disposal.
  • Listen for any unusual noises, vibrations, or signs of further blockages.
  • If the disposal operates smoothly without any issues, it has been successfully reset.
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Final Checks

  • After the test run, observe the disposal for a few moments to ensure it is functioning properly.
  • Watch out for any leaks or abnormal sounds.
  • If everything appears to be in order, you can resume using your garbage disposal as usual.

Troubleshooting Tips for Persistent Issues

If you continue to experience problems.

  • Check the electrical connections in the disposal unit.
  • Inspect the disposal unit for any cracks or damages.
  • Consider calling a professional plumber to inspect and repair the disposal.

Maintenance Tips to Prevent Future Problems

To minimize the chances of your garbage disposal requiring frequent resets, consider implementing these maintenance tips.

Regular Cleaning

Clean the disposal regularly by grinding ice cubes or a mixture of ice and rock salt to maintain blade sharpness and remove buildup.

Avoid Hard or Non-Food Items

  • Never dispose of hard items like bones or fruit pits in the garbage disposal.
  • Also, avoid non-food materials such as glass, plastic, or metal, as they can damage the blades.

Cut Waste into Smaller Pieces

  • Before disposing of large food waste, break it into smaller pieces to avoid overloading the disposal.
  • This will help the blades grind the waste more effectively.

Run Cold Water

  • Always use cold water while operating the garbage disposal.
  • Continue running cold water for at least 30 seconds after turning off the disposal.
  • Cold water helps solidify fats and oils, making them easier to process and preventing clogs.


Reset a garbage disposal is a simple process that can be done at home with a few basic tools. Remember to prioritize safety and never attempt to reset the garbage disposal with your hands. If you continue to experience persistent issues, it may be time to call a professional plumber to inspect and repair the disposal unit. By following these maintenance tips, you can prevent future problems and ensure the optimal functionality of your garbage disposal.

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