Handyman Tip:

How to Troubleshoot Garbage Disposal Problems

As a handyman in Chandler and Phoenix Arizona who has replaced dozens of garbage disposals, I can say it is likely that some day you will have to replace your garbage disposal. These efficient, labor saving devices can have a long useful life. Conditions that will shorten the life of your garbage disposal are many and varied.  The main reason a disposal fails, or rusts through is not using it on a regular basis.  Remember every time you run water through the disposal, minerals are deposited that will eat through the metal. Constant use will keep this from happening. Also processing of soft material only, will eventually cause the same effect. Garbage disposals are tough and designed for hard use, as you can see if you have ever let a fork or spoon accidentally fall in while it is in use.

Some things to try before replacement:

Scenario:  Turn on the disposal and all you hear is a hum.  The disposal is jammed.
Solution: On the underside, center of the disposal is an Allen wrench shaped depression. The disposal came with a tool that fits in this socket, if yours is missing, a common Allen wrench will work. Insert the tool and turn it back and forth until the disposal blades work free.  If this does not work, your local home center will have a special tool that is inserted from the top to free up the disposal. Should either one of these solutions fail to free up the disposal, it is time to replace it.

Scenario: Turn on the disposal and nothing happens.
Solution: The internal electrical circuit breaker has probably activated. On the underside of the disposal is a RED button, press it all the way in, this should reset the breaker. Should this not resolve the problem, check the main house breaker box to see if a circuit breaker has tripped on the circuit for the disposal.  If either of these solutions fails to resolve the problem, it is time to replace the disposal.

Scenario: Turn on the disposal and it makes a horrible racket.
Solution: Something has fallen into the disposal. UNPLUG the garbage disposal. Reach in through the top and remove the obstacle. If this does not solve the problem it is time to replace the disposal.