TroubleShoot Garbage Disposal Issues

Inner workings of an in-sink garbage disposal unit
Inner workings of an in-sink garbage disposal unit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have often thought that when it comes to Garbage Disposals that they were incorrectly named.  They are not really garbage disposals, nor are they food grinders.  They are in fact for small food particles and cleaning off dishes.

If you are a Landlord and manage your own rental you may have encountered this issue before. If you have not yet had to deal with this before hopefully this information will be helpful to you. Often trouble shooting the issue over the phone may save you time and money if you know the right questions to ask.

If you are a Tenant a home, you should acquaint yourself with some of the techniques contained in this post and it may save you and your Landlord time and money. Additionally it will help you to prepare for when you become a homeowner.

Here are my favorite trouble shooting methods for Garbage disposal issues:

Garbage, or food waste disposal from above
Garbage, or food waste disposal from above (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When a tenant calls me and states that the garbage disposal is not working, I ask what is it doing.  If the disposal is doing nothing, I tell them to make sure that there is nothing were in the disposal such as silverware or a sponge, by checking with their hand.  I will ask them if there is any sound or noise when they turn it on.  If there is no sound I ask them to open the cabinet under the sink and feel around the bottom of the garbage disposal for a little button called the reset button.  Once they have located this and depressed it the water can be turned on and the disposal tried again,

If the disposal still does not work, but is now making a buzzing sound, this more than likely indicates that the disposal is jammed. It could have become this way by disposing of too much food the last time it was used.

Installed garbage or food waste disposer
Installed garbage or food waste disposer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For this issue an Allen wrench is needed and you can insert it at the bottom of the disposal and turn it.  This will free up the disposal and it should then work.  If you do not have an Allen wrench, then a broom handle will work.  Simply place the broom or mop handle in the disposal and push down and rotate it so that the disposal blades move freely.  Once this occurs you can remove the handle, turn on the water and the disposal again.  It should be working now.  If all these steps do not resolve the issue then you may need to contact a professional.