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3 Simple Remedies for Your Inoperative Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal in your sink performs a n important function--grinding food wastes into a slurry that flows down the pipes. Sometimes the appliance needs a little TLC for all the tough work it does.

Three Causes of Garbage Disposal Problems

Here are three common problems with garbage disposals, and the solutions are ones many homeowners can do themselves. Don't reach down inside the disposal!

  1. Stuck objects, fix #1:A fork, bottle cap, bone, or your son's retainer can jam the blades at the bottom of your garbage disposal, rendering it useless. With a flashlight's beam to locate the object, use a pair of long needle-nose pliers to pull out the obstruction.
  2. Stuck objects, fix #2: If the object won't budge, then go under the sink. Most disposals have a hole for an Allen wrench so you can reverse the blades. Work the Allen wrench back and forth until you are able to free the object.
  3. Overload: The motor is too hot and automatically shuts down. To fix this, let it cool down then hit a reset button (often red) on the bottom of the garbage disposal. Avoid this problem by always running cold water down the garbage disposal while it is in use. Failure to do so, along with extended use of the appliance, can burn out the motor. Then the garbage disposal must be replaced.

One or another of the above fixes works a great percentage of the time, so they're worth a shot. If they don't do the trick, call a licensed plumber. It only takes a day or two of depositing smelly food wastes in the wastebasket under the sink to make plumber's fees seem like a bargain!