The sink is full of dishes, the garbage disposal is full of food, and after flicking the switch on and off, the unit doesn’t turn on. Flicking the switch again doesn’t solve the issue. If this is you, don’t worry! Follow the troubleshooting steps below to get your kitchen flowing again and your garbage disposal working again.
The best way to prevent a clog is to use plenty of water to flush solids after using the garbage disposal and to avoid sending coffee grounds, egg shells, potato skins, and banana peels down the drain.
The flywheel is the part that rotates and performs the disposing once the switch is flipped. In the event of a jam, the flywheel may hum, won’t spin, and eventually trip the breaker. Shine a light down the disposal to see if a utensil or other hard or large object has fallen down. If so, unplug the unit remove the foreign objects stuck in the blades. This could look like a spoon, plastic toy, or produce stickers.
Another method is to use a large wooden object to reach into the disposal to use as a lever. This may also free the stuck flywheel.
If there’s no visible jam, then the motor itself may have jammed. Some units come with an offset allen key just for this fix. If you don’t have the correct allen key, the standard size is around 1/4 inch. Insert the wrench into the bottom of the machine, and turn the wrench a back and forth, noting any resistance. In the event of too much resistance, attempt the unjamming with a specialty wrench from the sinkside for more leverage in turning the motor. Plug the machine in, and try turning on the garbage disposal unit.
The next most likely reason for backing up water is a clogged drain after your garbage disposal unit. By not using plenty of cold water while using the unit, food builds up in the pipes and doesn't flush through the system. Unplug the unit, put a bucket under the sink, and remove the P-trap with pliers. Inspect for a blockage, and clear any solid particles. Continue downstream, clearing solids and run a drum auger in the pipes to further clean the drain. Reassemble, and flush with water for a few minutes.
The impeller is the component that advances food waste through the grinding chamber. When loose, the disposal unit may hum. Remove power to the unit, and remove the bottom plate or splash guard to inspect if the impeller is properly tightened and not damaged. Replace impeller if damaged.