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Garbage Disposal Repair & Installation
We provide professional repairs, replacement, and installation of all makes and models of garbage disposals.
There are a number of possible reasons a garbage disposal may not work properly. This section provides information for:
- garbage disposal leaks
- garbage disposal clogs
- a garbage disposal does not turn on or grind
- a garbage disposal that hums or is jammed
- Repairing or resetting a jammed garbage disposal
- Replacing a garbage disposal
How long does a typical garbage disposal last?
On average, your garbage disposal should last you a good number of years before the blades will wear down or the motor will burn out. Depending on when you installed it (modern garbage disposals are much more long-lasting than older ones), you can expect your garbage disposal to last anywhere from 8 – 15 years.
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Repairing Garbage Disposal Leaks
If you find water under your kitchen sink, there are four places to look for a leaking garbage disposal unit. There can be leaking from:
- the flange at the top where the unit connects to the sink
- a drain pipe connection
- the dishwasher connection
- the bottom of the disposal unit
1) Garbage disposals connected to the body of the kitchen sink with a flange sealed by plumber’s putty or a rubber gasket. Plumber’s putty can dry, crack, corrode, or loosen over time. The seal can also be loosened if the garbage disposal unit is bumped hard enough to loosen the seal by someone working under the sink.
If water is leaking from this top flange, it can sometimes be repaired simply by re-tightening all the mounting bolts. If that doesn’t stop the leak, the flange needs the ring of plumber’s putty replaced. The plumber’s putty seals the flange in the sink to the sink body itself.
You will need to drain and detach the garbage disposal unit from all adjacent drain connections, clean off the old putty and reseal it.
2) Water may be leaking from the connection of the garbage disposal unit to the drainage pipe. Rust or corrosion may be compromising the seal.
Vibration from the garbage disposal may have loosened or displaced the connections.The main drain line is connects to the disposal unit with screws, and has a rubber gasket on the inside. Try tightening them, or disconnect and check the condition of the gasket.
If the rubber gasket is not split just clean it and put it back in place. If the rubber gasket is too worn or broken, replace it and then tighten the screws down properly.
3) If you have a dishwasher, it may drain through the garbage disposal unit, so check those connections for leaks as well. It’s the smaller hose coming from the direction of the dishwasher. Often, tightening the metal hose-clamp with a screwdriver is all that is required. But check for split or broken hoses or connectors; they will need to be replaced.
If water is leaking from the bottom of the unit, it means that internal parts are worn and leaking through the motor and housing. The unit’s internal seals wear out over time.
4) If you see water around the reset button or housing bolts at the bottom of the disposal unit, or if there are cracks in the body of the unit, the garbage disposal must be replaced with a new one. Most units outlast their warranty, but check it!
Here’s a helpful short video from This Old House showing all the parts of a garbage disposal discussed on this page, and how they work:
Garbage Disposal Does NOT Turn On Or Grind
If the garbage disposal simply doesn’t turn on when you flip the switch on, and you hear NO HUM OF THE MOTOR, electricity is not getting to the motor.
If you do hear a hum, but there is no grinding, go to the next section.
If there is not even a slight hum, check the following solutions in the order given:
1. First, check the plug (if the unit is a plug-in type, and not hard-wired into the wall’s electrical supply).
2. Next, check the reset button at the bottom of the unit. It’s usually a little red button and it resets a circuit breaker inside the disposal unit. It may be sticking down a bit, and when you push it back upward it resets the circuit to the garbage disposal’s motor.
If this has not solved the problem, check the house’s main service panel. If the disposal unit’s circuit breaker has been tripped, you will see that it has moved to the “OFF” position. Reset it back to the “ON” position.
SAFETY NOTE: Never handle or even approach circuit breakers if the floor is wet. If a short circuit condition exists, a damp or wet floor can poses a very dangerous risk of electrical shock. Instead, call an electrician or wait until the floor is dry before opening the breaker box.
If power to the garbage disposal is not restored through the reset button or a circuit breaker switch, there is likely either a wiring problem in the switch controlling the disposal, or the garbage disposal unit is faulty and needs to be replaced.
A Jammed Garbage Disposal that Hums But Does Not Grind
Watch the short video by InSinkErator on unjamming and resetting your garbage disposal unit:
If you flip the switch on and only hear a hum, but the garbage disposal unit doesn’t start grinding, then the inner flywheel is jammed. In these cases, the reset button should pop downward or the circuit breaker should trip soon, because of the extra load on the unit. If you hear the hum, just turn the switch back off so the extra load cannot burn out the garbage disposal’s motor.
Most often this condition is a sign that the unit got loaded with too much tough food debris for it to handle (like too much potato skin, for example), or perhaps a hard foreign object fell in and got lodged between the impeller blades and the shredder ring.
Shut off the wall switch, but also unplug the unit or shut OFF it’s breaker at the electrical service panel.
If there is a suspicious amount of food debris inside the disposal unit neck, remove what you can. It’s best to do this with needle-nosed pliers or any tool that will allow you to keep your hand outside the unit. Remove what you can and throw it in the garbage.
Locate the offset wrench that came with the disposal unit (an Allen or hex-head wrench) and fit it securely into the flywheel turning hole in the bottom of the disposal unit. Turn it clockwise to unstick the impeller. You may have to work it both directions, until you feel the flywheel turn freely.
If you can’t find the appropriate wrench to free the impeller, insert a wooden tool, such as a wooden spoon handle down the drain opening. Use it as a lever to try to move the impeller and free the stuck flywheel.
Once you have the fly wheel moving freely again, use a flashlight to inspect inside. You can look for a meat bone, a wedding ring, or any other hard object that could have caused the jamming. Use pliers to remove it. Always keep your hands and fingers out of the unit.
Restore power to the unit from the service panel, but don’t turn on the disposal yet.
First, press the red reset button on the bottom of the disposal unit. Flush the unit with running water and then give the switch a quick on and off, with the tap water running, to spin the flywheel and send any dislodged debris down the drain. Now the unit should be in working order again.
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Replacing a Garbage Disposal Unit:
RT Olson Plumbing commonly installs three top brand garbage disposals: InSinkErator, Badger, and Moen.
Don’t let a broken garbage disposal become a source of frustration – call RT Olson Plumbing for help in a hurry.
Our garbage disposal repair experts will diagnose the problem quickly and determine whether your garbage disposal can be fixed or if it needs to be replaced.