A garbage disposal now serves as an essential item in the home, yet imagine inviting family or friends over for an evening of adult conversation only to have the garbage disposal break. When food builds up in the unit, it can begin to smell and the odor may permeate the entire home. Thankfully, this common household appliance can be easily fixed by the average person and no special tools are required. Here are two common causes for a non-working garbage disposal and how to correct them without calling in a plumber.
No Sound From The Unit
When no sound is coming from the unit, it is likely a power problem. In this situation, the first thing to check is the reset button on the bottom of the unit. Push the button in and see if this resets the machine. Often, this is all that is needed to correct the issue and have the garbage disposal up and running again.
If resetting the unit doesn’t work, unplug the machine from the wall. Plug another device in and see if it works. If it does, try plugging the garbage disposal in again, as this may be enough to fix it.
If the second device doesn’t work in the outlet, it may be an issue with the circuit breaker. Check to see if it needs to be reset by turning the breaker off and back on again. If this works, the breaker needs to be watched, because if use of the garbage disposal trips the breaker again, there is an issue that requires further investigation. If it doesn’t trip again, the garbage disposal should be working.
A Hum From The Unit, A Grinding Sound Or Another Noise
Noises coming the machine suggest something has become trapped in the unit. Before attempting to determine what is in the garbage disposal, make certain power has been cut to the device, either by unplugging it or shutting the circuit breaker off.
Insert a hex wrench into the hole at the bottom of the garbage disposal and turn the impeller blades both ways. This may remove the item trapped in the blades and allow the machine to work once again.
If moving the impeller blades doesn’t work or they fail to move when this step is taken, use a pair of tongs or pliers to see if something is trapped in the blades. Never put your hand into the unit, as the blades can cut the hand, even when there is no power to the machine.
Finally, take a plunger handle or broom stick and attempt to move the blades. This may also loosen any items trapped in the blades. If this fails, a plumber may need to be called in.
Preventing Issues With Garbage Disposals
Certain items should never be placed in a garbage disposal. Banana peels, artichoke leaves and other fibrous foods will clog the unit, as the blades cannot break them up. Bones tend to dull the blades, and meat, especially fatty pieces, won’t break up either. If meat must be put into the unit, make sure it is cut into small pieces. Eggshells, rice and pasta are other items the machine doesn’t handle well, so avoid placing them in the unit.
Try these simple steps at home to fix a broken garbage disposal. In most cases, they will work. If they fail to, try taking the machine apart. It’s not a difficult task and can be of help when silverware or another item is trapped in the unit. If all else fails, call in a plumber. A garbage disposal is one appliance no home should be without.