How to Repair a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals, like any other frequently used kitchen appliance, require occasional repairs and maintenance to ensure proper functioning. Disposals may vary depending on brand and type, but here are a few simple repairs you can make to address common problems associated with all brands and types of garbage disposals. No matter what type of repair you are attempting, always make sure to turn off the power to the disposal at the breaker as a safety precaution and remove the splashguard for easier access.

How to Remove Objects Stuck in the Disposal

If silverware, bottle caps or other objects fall through the splashguard, the disposal may jam. To remedy this, use a flashlight to locate and identify the obstruction and, if possible, use metal tongs to lift out the obstruction. If this doesn't work then you may try using a special turning tool (when available) or a broom handle. Turn the power on at the breaker, run cold water and try to turn the disposal on again.

How to Use a Special Turning Tool or Jam Wrench

Many garbage disposers come with an Allen wrench designed to fit into a hole at the bottom of your disposer. If your disposal didn't come with this tool, they are available at most hardware stores. Use a flashlight to locate the hole, insert the Allen wrench and turn the disposal back and forth to loosen the jam. Turn the power on at the breaker, run cold water and try to turn the disposal on again.

How to Fix a Clogged Drain

Food matter will occasionally accumulate in the drain and cause a clog. If an ordinary drain cleaner does not remedy the clog, you'll have to get your hands dirty. To repair a clogged drain, place a bucket underneath the drain. Next, use a pipe wrench to loosen the fittings on the P trap. Remove the P trap. Once it's been removed, try to locate the clog and clean it out. If the clog is not in the P trap, you may need to thread an auger or a snake down the drainpipe to free the clog.

How to Reset an Overloaded Disposal

When your disposal stops turning, it's often because it senses an overload of power and automatically shuts off. As a precaution, wait a few moments to let the disposal cool down. Most disposers have a reset button on the underside of them. After the unit is cool, press the reset button, run cold water and try turning it on again. If this doesn't solve the problem, you may need to inspect the cord or wiring. Don't be ashamed to call an electrician to remedy the problem if it is beyond your expertise.

How to Maintain a Garbage Disposal and Prevent Further Problems

Discovering clogs or jams in garbage disposals is not uncommon, but measures can be taken to prevent them from ever forming. The blades in a garbage disposal will become dull over time, and many home repair experts suggest feeding a variety of materials, such as chicken bones or glass, into the disposer to sharpen the blades. Regardless of what you might hear, the only safe material to feed into your disposal to sharpen the blades is ice. You should also avoid feeding materials with husks, such as corn, and stringy vegetables, such as celery, into your disposal to avoid a jam. In addition, avoid pouring grease down the drain as it can clog. If you have poured grease down the drain, try running hot water for a few minutes to flush it out.