How to Repair a Garbage Disposal Without Taking it Apart

Has your garbage disposal stopped working?

All those blades may seem intimidating, but a stalled garbage disposal may be easier to fix than you think.

Nine times out of ten, the disposal won’t be broken, and you won’t even have to take it apart.

What you’ll need:

  • Gloves
  • Quarter-inch Allen wrench
  • Pliers

Step One: Unplug the garbage disposal. Do not skip this step.

Step Two: Check to see that the plug under the sink is getting power.

Test this by plugging something else—such as a desk lamp or a phone charger—into the outlet.

If the test object doesn’t work, then your problem is electrical, and you may need to check your circuit breaker.

Step Three: If the plug is working fine, look underneath the disposal, and find the red button.

This is called the trip switch.

It disables the disposal’s functions when the main unit is overworking itself.

Plug the unit back in and push the red button. Test to see if the disposal is working now.

Step Four: If this doesn’t work, unplug your garbage disposal again.

Step Five: Locate the small hole in the center of the bottom of your unit.

Place a quarter-inch Allen wrench into the hole and give it a few turns.

If there is anything lodged in your disposal, the turns should free it.

Step Six: Use pliers to remove whatever was blocking the disposal.

It could be a piece of metal or glass, so be very careful.

Please double check that the unit is unplugged before doing this.

Step Seven: Plug your unit back in and test it.

Hopefully, it’s working smoothly for you now. If not, you mostly likely need a replacement.

For more information and a video on installation, see our main garbage disposal services page.

Call us today or send a message if you need a professional plumber.

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Owner - Operator at RT Olson Plumbing
Bob Olson has over 18 years experience in all aspects of residential and commercial plumbing. He's a 4th generation plumber. With over 500 five-star customer reviews, he runs one of the best-rated plumbing companies in Corona, CA.
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