Having a garbage disposal in your home or apartment makes sense. After all, how are you going to get rid of all the food waste? Garbage disposals are very convenient too: all you need to do is chuck down what leftovers you might have, be they banana peels or pizza crusts, down the drain. You then turn on the flap, flip a switch and the problem is gone.
Waste that can’t be reused, recycled or composted can cause pollution and it takes its toll on the environment. And what’s nice about garbage disposals is that they keep food scraps away from landfills. The thing about food, plant waste and water decomposing in landfills is they produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas more dangerous than carbon dioxide.
While other homes and apartments can live without garbage disposals (they opt to make less waste or compost), there are some that are built with them ready to use. And when you do use them on a regular basis, it should work without any problem if you are careful about what you throw down the drain.
But as careful as you are about the things that get tossed in the drain, you can’t help little errors sometimes. Often times, things just find their way down there. And when a disposal doesn’t work, the issue normally has something to do with something hard that has clogged the grinding mechanism. When this happens, a fuse in the machine is tripped. But fixing it is quite simple: you just reset the machine then clean out the obstruction. After doing that, your disposal should work without a hitch.
Garbage Disposal Does Not Turn On
Then again, there are times when your garbage disposal does not turn on. This just means that you don’t hear any noise coming from your unit. Your disposal gives off this humming sound and that happening is a clear sign there is an electrical problem.
You don’t need to call assistance straight away. There are some fixes you can do yourself to get it to work again. But if the case still persists, that’s when you really need to call a professional to help you out.
Here’s what you can do before deciding that the problem is best left to the hands of professionals:
- Make sure the disposal is plugged in. (Although this is a very easy check and quite the obvious one at that, sometimes it helps to still look because it really might be unplugged.)
- Once you’ve made sure the disposal is plugged in, press the Rest button. This button is located on the bottom of the disposal. You will know when a successful reset has been performed because the button pops back out.
Now, if that didn’t work, then you can try this:
- Check the circuit breaker to see if it has tripped and has turned off in the electrical service panel.
In case the breaker isn’t tripped and the reset button still hasn’t popped out, the issue may be a faulty switch or your garbage disposal is faulty. Here’s what you can do to remedy it:
- Locate the switch which powers the garbage disposal. This switch is normally located on the wall but it can also be found under the sink.
- Shut down the circuit breaker located at the service panel which powers the garbage disposal unit.
- Replace the switch.
- Turn the power on at the service panel then check the disposal to see if it’s functioning.
If after having done all these and the disposal still is not working, then it may be beyond hope. But if you really want to make sure, you can always call for a professional to come and take a look (maybe you missed something or executed something the wrong way).
Other Steps You Can Take
After you have restored power, you can perform additional steps (or do this if there still seems to be a slight issue) to make sure your disposal is working as designed. Listed below are some of the common things to do after clearing the electrical issue:
Clear Out Gunk
When power has been restored to the machine, the motor will try to spin the flywheel when the switch has been turned on. If you only hear a humming sound rather than the usual grinding noise, then there must still be a blockage present. Gunk that still remains can cause the shutoff switch to trip again and since you don’t want this to happen, you have to clear out the blockage.
Here’s how you clear out gunk:
- Spin the flywheel in the reverse direction (that is, counterclockwise) by using a 1/4-inch Allen key. The slot for the key is located on the underside of the housing right in the middle.
- Flush the disposal with water after you’ve reversed the flywheel. Doing this helps flush blockage down the drain when the switch is turned on.
Drain The Blockage
There are certain kinds of food (celery, corn fibers or coffee grounds) that can gum up the disposal and collect in the drain. Over time, this leads the water to back up and you end up with a blocked drain. There are some steps you can take to clear up the blockage, and they are:
- Try clearing the disposal by reversing the flywheel. Do this several times before proceeding to the next step. It’s important because what follows next is quite messy.
- Detach the drain pipe from the disposal so that you can manually clean the pipes. As mentioned earlier, it’s a tough and messy task which is why you should at least try clearing the disposal through the reversal of the flywheel lots of times. Maybe through that step the issue can be fixed.
Although some would recommend using drain cleaner, try to avoid that because it will make cleaning the drain a little more difficult.
A garbage disposal can be very useful in households. But you also have to be careful when it comes to what you throw down the drain. Because a simple error can result into a costly repair or replacement job. Luckily, there are issues that can be fixed by you alone. Then again, when the problem is out of your hands, it’s always best to call for professional assistance.