Garbage Disposal Not Working? Solve All Problems

Operating garbage disposal is not a tricky task, but it does require some getting used to it. There are several common problems that occur in garbage disposal.

They occur due to minor inconvenience in the grinding components or sometimes a bigger problem can be due to a defective part that you can get replaced.

Mostly the problems are not the type to make you worry about the functionality of your device and hence can be solved easily.

Disposal Humming but Not Grinding

  • What Causes This Problem?

When you introduce a strange object or a large food scrap then the flywheel tends to jam. And hence when the disposal runs, produces a humming sound, but does not grind. How this happens? The flywheel is a circular plate that rotates the impellers (or you may call it “blades”) at high speed to grind the food. However, when an unfamiliar object is introduced to the disposal, it gets stuck and does not turn; causing it to jam.

  • What’s the Solution?

You can also fix it by following steps:

Make sure the device is turned off and disconnected before following these steps.

Following these steps can help unjam the disposal

  • Locate the flywheel turning hole at the bottom of the disposal.
  • Take the wrench that came in with your disposer or an Allen hex wrench would work too.
  • Insert the wrench and rotate it clockwise to move the flywheel and impellers.
  • You might feel the flywheel move freely.
  • Next, use a wooden stick or spoon to reach down the drain opening from the sink.
  • Check for any food scraps stuck, if any, remove them using pliers.
  • Turn on the power but not the disposer.
  • Hit the reset button on the disposer.
  • Run some water then turn on the disposer to wash away any debris stuck to the flywheel.


Garbage Disposal Leaking

There are two different situations:

  • Leak at The Bottom

  • What causes this problem?

If a garbage disposal is leaking from the bottom, it means the inner seal or interior shell that protects the motor is damaged. The broken flywheel seal can also result in leakage.

  • What’s the Solution?

In case of the interior shell or seal breaking, it is hard to fix the issue.

You can get it repaired by a professional, but it is known to be costly.

However, in the case of a flywheel, you can replace the flywheel seal.

You will have to manually uninstall the disposer, get the seal replacement from a hardware shop, and put the disposer back in place.

  • Leak at The Dishwasher Connection

  • What causes this problem?

The leakage at the dishwasher connection could be due to the loose-fitting of the inlet pipe or a broken hose.

  • What’s the Solution?

The leak at the dishwasher connection is an easy fix and you can easily do it yourself.

Locate the smaller dishwasher drain that connects to the disposal.

All you need to do is securing the metal clamp by tightening the screw.

If the leakage is still there, it could be because of the cracked hose that you can get replaced by a professional or replace it yourself easily.


Garbage Disposal Not Draining

  • What causes this problem?

The garbage does not drain when the drain or the water passing through the drainage pipeline is clogged. Not putting enough water while grinding or grinding unusual fruit scraps can clog the drainage system.

  • What’s the Solution?

Make sure to check the drain for any food residues in the sink. The first thing you ought to do is to remove the P-shaped pipe and check for any clogging there.

If there is no clogging, then check the trap arm to remove the debris clogging the system.

If no such cloggage is seen in both the P pipe and trap arm, then make sure to check the branch drain with an auger.

Once all pipes are cleaned, run down water to flush out the whole system properly.


Garbage Disposal Jamming

  • What causes this problem?

Sometimes large or unusual food scraps stick to the impellers or the flywheel and jams the garbage disposal and stops the grinding eventually.

  • What’s the Solution?

You can resolve this issue easily yourself. The first thing to do is to use to reset the device using the red button at the bottom of the disposer. After resetting, Try running the disposer.

If it still does not work that means the flywheel is jammed. Use an Allen hex wrench and rotate the flywheel in both directions until you can feel it move freely. Repeat this process a few times to remove the jamming.

Check for any food piece stuck, from the drain opening and remove it. After all of this is done, run the disposer while continuously flowing the water to properly clean the pipes.


Garbage Disposal Backing Up into Sink

  • What causes this problem?

The backing up of sink occurs when there is no drainage outlet for the water due to clogging.

he clogging of pipes causes the water to back up the sink instead of down the drain system.

  • What’s the Solution?

The easy way to remove the clogging is to first fill up hot water into the sink with the disposer with a stopper in place.

Once the water is filled up, run-down water into the other sink and remove the stopper from the sink with the disposer and run the disposer.

Repeat this process several times, and you will see the water backing up gets less and less. By doing so you are cleaning out the drainpipes and removing food debris that was causing the clog.

If this does not solve the clogging issue, you might have to uninstall the pipes to clean thoroughly.


Garbage Disposal Not Turning On

  • What causes this problem?

This problem can be due to the overloading or overheating of the disposal. This causes the circuit breaker inside the disposal to trip and hence does not turn on.

  • What’s the Solution?

Check the reset button, located at the bottom of the disposer. If the button is pushed out to ¼” it means the circuit breaker tripped.

Press the button, if it pops out again, wait another 10 minutes and if it does not pop up this time then try running the disposal.

If the disposer still not works, make sure to check the circuit breaker at your home electrical panel to make sure the disposal circuit breaker has not tripped, if necessary, you can reset the breaker.

If it still does not turn on, check the wall switch connection, and make sure all the wires are in the right place.


Garbage Disposal Getting Rusty

  • What causes this problem?

When garbage disposals get old, they get rusty. Especially for disposals that use plain steel components get rusty if not allowed to dry out properly after operating.

  • What’s the Solution?

The only real solution to prevent your disposal getting rust to take proper care of it. Avoid throwing oily and greasy food into the disposal, they stick and corrode the grinding components.

Make sure to clean the disposer every now and then. You can do so by throwing some ice cubes and cold water down the disposer. It may sound like a bad idea, but the cold water is really good for washing out any substance that can cause rusting to your grinding components.

You can also make a mixture of lemon, salt, cold water and run it down the drain every now and then. Nevertheless, using strong elements such as vinegar is not advised whereas baking soda in small amounts can be used.

Dos and Don’ts of Using A Garbage Disposal

what should you not to do when using garbage disposal


  • Do run down water properly even after everything has been ground, this helps in keeping the drainpipes clean and remove any debris of food stuck.
  • Do mount the wall switch in a safe space, to keep the device from running accidentally.
  • Do keep the safety cover on the sink in case any non-food item falls down the sink accidentally.
  • Do make sure the installation is done properly, clumsy installation can result in loud noises or even leakage.


  • Don’t throw non-food items down the drain. Never.
  • Don’t throw fats or grease in the sink. it can cause severe clogging in the sinks.
  • Don’t use hot water while grinding. Doing so will liquify any grease you might have put down the drain and cause clogging.
  • Don’t abuse the disposal. Make sure to read properly about what your disposal can and cannot take. Overloading it will not kill its performance.



Like any other machine, there are several problems that can occur with a garbage disposal. If that happens, there is no need to worry. You don’t exactly need plumbing expertise to fix these problems. Knowing your issue and then reading up about it can help in resolving the problem.

For some cases, where you feel like the problem cannot be managed by yourself then you may call for extra support instead of experimenting with the device.