Tips for Fixing a Broken Garbage Disposal

Let’s talk a little bit about garbage disposals. A lot of people have a garbage disposal unit similar to the Badger 5 half-horsepower InSinkErator. I prefer at least the half-horsepower units, not the third-horsepower units, because the third-horsepower units seem to have more problems with getting stuck. 

I just want to cover a couple things that can go wrong with the garbage disposal that you might be able to fix on your own. Here are some common problems:

  1. Nothing happens. You hit the garbage disposal switch to turn it on and nothing happens. On the bottom of the unit there is a red reset button. Normally, what you have to do is either lay on your stomach and look for the button or you can feel for it and you push that button back in. Then test it again to see if it works.
  2. Humming, then nothing. If it hums for a few minutes and then kicks the reset button off again, that means something inside this garbage disposal is stuffed up. We’ve all heard the noise where you get a non-food item in your garbage disposal. It makes a terrible noise like a trash compactor, which means there’s some kind of metal or plastic inside it that shouldn’t be there. Take the flapper, the rubbery piece at the opening of the garbage disposal, and lift it up. Get a little flashlight and look inside the unit. You’re looking for an object that shouldn’t be there. If you see one, then get a pair of needle-nose pliers. Go in with the flashlight and needle-nose pliers and try to grab whatever it is.
  3. Handy tool. If you have a garbage disposal, you might have seen a tool underneath your kitchen sink that is a piece of metal about ten inches long that curves twice so it looks like a flattened “S.” It looks a little bit like a thick Allen wrench that is curved at both ends. You might not have known what it was for. If the garbage disposal gets seized up and it’s not moving, it’s just humming then kicking off that reset button, use this tool to free it up if it’s possible to do so.

    Directly in the center on the bottom of your garbage disposal there’s a hole. One end of this tool fits into that hole and then you should be able to move it. If it doesn’t move, then you know something is stuck in there. You can use this tool to free it up by moving the tool around in a circle, almost like a crank, back and forth. Once you free the unit up, you can remove whatever is stuck inside. Then you can turn the unit on and it should work just like it did before.

If you’ve done all that and it’s still seized up or if you can’t move the tool no matter what you do, that means the garbage disposal itself is seized up and you’re going to have to replace it.

But like I said, there are a few easy things that you can do first before you call a plumber. 

If you do need to replace this garbage disposal, call Rocketman Plumbing at (505) 243-1227 and we’ll come out to take care of it for you.