How to Troubleshoot a Garbage Disposal

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Your garbage disposal gets a lot of hard use. It's no wonder that it may have problems from time to time. You can troubleshoot many of the problems common to a garbage disposal before you call a plumber.

  • Make sure the electricity is working to the garbage disposal. Make sure the circuit hasn't tripped at the breaker box.

  • Look for the garbage disposal's reset button. You can find this button, which is usually red, under the garbage disposal or on its side near the top. If the button is up, press it to reset it. If you have been trying to operate the garbage disposal, it's best to let it cool at least five minutes before pressing the reset button.

  • Loosen a stuck flywheel with the wrench that came with the garbage disposal. Insert the wrench into the hole in the bottom of the garbage disposal. Turn the flywheel both ways to release whatever is catching it.

  • Check for leaks. You can troubleshoot leaks at the place where the garbage disposal mounts on to the sink, where it empties into the drain, and where the dishwasher empties into the garbage disposal. If one of these areas has a leak, loosen the connections, apply plumbers putty and retighten the connection. If the hose between the dishwasher and the garbage disposal is leaking, replace the hose.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never put your hand down the garbage disposal.
  • Always turn off the electricity at the breaker box before trying to troubleshoot a garbage disposal.
  • Never put chemicals into a garbage disposal to clear a slow drain. Disconnect the garbage disposal to clean out the drain.

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