Garbage Disposal Not Working (What to Do)

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Is your garbage disposal not working? Then read on to find out the possible reasons for its malfunctioning and what you can do to fix it.

It is usual for garbage disposal, like other appliances, to develop faults occasionally; often, constant defects and repairs could mean your garbage disposal needs a replacement.

However, most common garbage disposal problems are minimal, so it is easier to fix them, and you would get your garbage disposal running perfectly again. But you will only be able to fix it properly if you know its problem.

If you want to learn this in the nick of time, with or without an expert, stick to this guide.

What Are The Most Common Garbage Disposal Problems?

Before trying to fix your garbage disposal, you must be conversant with the common garbage disposal problems so you would know how best you can fix your garbage disposal.

If you can administer the right solution, you will avoid constant repairs that would undoubtedly lead to damage and may result in you replacing the garbage disposal.

Here are simple lists of the common garbage disposal problems;

  • The garbage disposal drains slowly
  • The disposal releases a foul odor
  • Grinding noises
  • The unit won’t rotate
  • Jammed disposal

Your garbage disposal is most likely to encounter difficulties if it experiences any of mentioned problems. Once you notice any fault and are unsure what the problem is, we advise you to get an expert to help you figure out the problem.

If you ignore any of these yellow signs it can in less or no time, lead to bigger problems. Is your garbage disposal not working? Have you experienced any of these signs, and are you worried about fixing it? Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Garbage Disposal Not Working

Let’s gradually learn about the possible reasons for your garbage disposal not working and what you can do to resolve the issue.

1. The garbage disposal drains slowly

Garbage disposals don’t have issues grinding any food; however, if it reacts partially to the food after grinding, it will cause clogs. And this takes time to build up. Initially, it would drain well without you finding out until there is too much for the disposal to take in.

Food particles or buildups cause clogging, affecting how well your garbage disposal works. You may have contributed to the waste buildup in one way or the other. Let’s see some of the other things that might contribute to this problem,

  • Lack or improper flushing
  • Grinding up eggshells or coffee grounds
  • Grinding bones or bottles
  • Putting potato peels or banana peels in the garbage disposal

You can quit the acts if you have contributed to this. “A stitch in time saves nine” But not fret not, you can still fix the issue! That’s the good news.

What to do to fix the garbage disposal when it is draining slowly?

Do not try to force or engage in any quick-fix solution if your garbage disposal is not working due to draining issues. First, you will often find a problem in the drain trap assembly; you can locate this at the waste discharge side of the disposal.

For starters, please do not put your hand down the disposal when it is time to fix it. Please avoid hurting yourself, as the blades are pretty sharp and merciless when it is in use. It would be best if you had tools to fix your garbage disposal;

  • Flashlight
  • Alien wrench
  • Pliers
  • Sink plunger
  • Tongs
  • Measuring cup
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda

Now, do these few things to unclog your garbage disposal and make it run or drain properly.

  1. Ensure you disengage power from the unit in every possible way. Remove the plug from the wall.
  2. Use a plunger to push down any standing water in the sink down the drain; if you do not have a plunge handy, you should use a cup.
  3. Use your flashlight this time to have a better view of the canister of the garbage disposal unit.
  4. If you don’t see anything, clogs are not the problem, but if you encounter any clogs, reach out for the reset button on the underside of the garbage and run the garbage for some time to clear the clogs. For a more detailed experience, learn how to unclog a garbage disposal.

2. Electrical problems

If your garbage disposal doesn’t work when you turn it on, another viable reason is an electrical problem. An electrical issue can also be a culprit if your garbage disposal turns on and off abruptly. So, what should you do if this is the problem?

What to do if a garbage disposal is not working due to electrical issues

You would have to run some troubleshooting before you conclude it’s an electrical fault; ensure that you plugged the disposal correctly into the wall or where ever it is situated. Check the reset button if you are not getting any positive responses. Try shutting the garbage disposal and turning it on again.

Check the disposal switch or outlet if you have yet to figure out the problem. Now you should take out the disposal switch cover plate, unscrew the switch from the box and inspect the terminal connections.

If you must change the switch, then by all means, do! But if you find out that your garbage disposal is not responsive after all these, you should call on experts to look into the problem; sometimes, you would need to replace the disposal.

3. Jammed garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal comprises several compartments that help it perform the task it is built for. The grinding chamber has blades in it; this is the area you should not boldly visit. Even if you are an expert, it requires a heightened level of carefulness and confidence.

How would you know your garbage disposal is jammed? You will hear a humming noise that initially seems ignorable but, over time, graduates to something quite disturbing.

If your garbage disposal is jamming, it means you have strange objects like bones, bottles, or steel disrupting the smooth running of the garbage disposal. It is also possible that there is other food waste lodging in the shredding ring and flywheel.

What to do if your garbage disposal is jamming and producing a humming sound
  • Turn off the power at your disposal. Locate the flywheel wrench hole on the bottom of the unit. Insert a wrench or 1/ 4 Allen wrench and turn it clockwise to loosen up the impeller.
  • You can check the top of the disposal with a wooden spoon or tongs to dislodge and remove the cause of the jam.
  • Again do not reach the garbage disposal with your bare hands, please.
  • If you are sure that the disposal is now straightforward, you can flush the unit.

4. Overheating

Any appliance is capable of shutting down abruptly when you overuse it, and your garbage disposal is not exempted. So your garbage disposal is likely to overheat due to constant use.

What to do when your garbage disposal is overheating? 

The only step you should take is to give your garbage disposal space to cool off. Constant use of garbage disposal can affect the appliance’s functionality, so be sure to give your garbage disposal some time off work.

5. Faulty motor

It’s not your fault if the garbage disposal motor goes wrong for any reason; after all, it is bound to happen once you are constantly using the garbage disposal. But if the problem is so irresistible, you must replace the garbage disposal motor. If you have a warranty, ensure you check it for the necessary information for replacement.

What to do if the garbage disposal won’t work because of a faulty motor? Replace the engine so the problem will not become a massive threat to you.


If your garbage disposal suddenly developed a fault and you have asked why is the garbage disposal not working? Well, we have answered that in our guide today and proffered possible solutions to help you fix your garbage disposal and get it running again.

If you notice any foul odor or your garbage disposal begins to produce awkward sounds if the garbage disposal stops running when in use, then it is faulty, and these are clear signs, it needs your attention lest it gets worse.

Ensure you get an expert to fix your garbage disposal if it is beyond your control.

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