Published on November 29th, 2017
A garbage disposal unit by any other name is still a garbage disposer. It is also known as a garbage disposal, waste disposal unit, garbage disposer, or as they call it in Canada, a garburator.
Garbage disposal units have been around since the 1940’s and have improved over time. Most kitchens today come equipped with this handy, electrically-powered plumbing device. They are installed under the sink between the sink’s drain and the trap. Much like running water, when you’re used to having it, you don’t thoroughly appreciate it until you no longer have it to use.
Common Problems with a Garbage Disposer
Clogs and jams are the most common problems with a garbage disposer. Whether it clogs, jams or overloads, getting it back up and running is a top priority. These problems are simple enough to fix without help and can be fixed in a matter of minutes. Others are tough enough to require the service of an appliance repair technician from Blue Frost Heating & Cooling, like replacing a disposal unit, for example. But before you decide to replace your unit, try to repair it yourself and save some money.
This might be the number one problem with a disposal. Believe it or not, a garbage disposer will not grind up everything you can fit in the drain. Clogs will keep the water from draining, even if the unit still turns. It will take a bit of work, but you should be able to unclog the unit using a plunger in about an hour or so.
How to fix a clogged garbage disposer:
- Turn off power to the unit at the electrical box.
- Make sure the unit is turning freely and that you have a large pail ready before you tear the drain apart to look for the clog.
- Plunge the unit. Make sure you have enough water in the sink to cover the base of the plunger. Make sure the plunger is seated and then push down quickly and firmly. Give it several good tries to see if you can break the clog free.
- Check the disposal drain. If only the sink that has the disposal attached is clogged, then the problem is probably between the disposal outlet and the tee in the drain where the two sink drains connect together. Your garbage disposal has clogged the drain.
- If the water is backed up in both sinks, the sink drain is clogged, not the garbage disposal.
- Check the short section between your disposal and the sink drain.
- Clean out the clog, put the sink back together and run water.
- Turn the power back on and turn on the disposer.
Stuff jams. When the garbage disposal is jammed, you will hear a loud hum or buzzing sound when you turn on the switch, but the blades will not rotate. This happens when something hard lodges itself between the cutting blades. Flipping the switch to turn the unit on and off may dislodge a jam, but it may trip the reset and prevent it from turning on at all, too.
How to fix a jammed garbage disposer:
- Turn off power to the unit at the electrical box.
- Insert the offset wrench that came with your disposer into the slot on the bottom of the unit.
- First turn the wrench clockwise, then back and forth if necessary. When the blades unjam, you should feel the unit “free up.” If the wrench doesn’t work, try running a broom handle or thick dowel rod down into the disposer to free up the blades.
- NEVER stick your hand into the disposer.
- Turn the power back on and push the reset button.
- Run water and flip the garbage disposer switch on and off to dispose of whatever caused the jam.
When you flip on the disposer switch, but you don’t hear anything and nothing happens, it’s not getting power.
How to fix a powerless garbage disposer:
- Make sure the plug hasn’t come loose
- Check the disposal reset button at the bottom of the unit. Is it popped out? Push it if it is.
- Check the circuit breaker. Does it need to be reset? Push it if it does.
- If the disposal still won’t run, you either have a bad switch or a damaged disposal. If you are familiar with electrical equipment, replace the switch. If not, hire a repair technician from Blue Frost Heating & Cooling.
- If all of the above is good to go and the disposal still won’t start, hire Blue Frost Heating & Cooling to replace the garbage disposer. It probably needs to be replaced.
Odors come from food waste that has not been washed down the drain. There are a number of ways to tackle a smelly garbage disposal, and it’s easy enough to resolve. Don’t use bleach or bleach-based products to get rid of odor. The bleach could damage the rubber seals in the unit or react with other chemicals and create dangerous fumes.
How to fix a smelly garbage disposer:
- Run plenty of water down the drain after food is ground up.
- Clean the rubber baffle.
- Turn the unit off at the electrical box and clean the unit manually, the old fashioned way, with lots of hot, soapy water.
- Use lemons and ice, Oxy Clean, baking soda, and vinegar or commercial cleaners specifically designed for cleaning garbage disposers.
When you’ve tried everything to repair your garbage disposer …
Next time your garbage disposer acts up, save yourself some money. Disposal problems are usually simple to fix on your own. But if you try everything and nothing is working, give Blue Frost Heating & Cooling a call at (630) 761-9007. We’re here for you.
Blue Frost Heating & Cooling – We’re the people to call for properly working home systems in the Fox Valley Area.