Wright Way Contracting, LLC
Oct 11, 2013
I have been to about 20 garbage disposal calls in the last 3 months. I have only replaced one, and that was today, so it prompted me to write this. Most of the time a garbage disposal has just gotten something in it that is binding it, or there is another problem that is easily repaired rather than replaced. This is a good thing cause they sure seem to have gotten expensive in my last 15 years of doing this. I used to get them for $50 and now the cheap ones are $85... but I digress.
If you flip the switch, and nothing happens, check first a small red button on the bottom of the disposal. This is a motor overheat switch, which trips when the motor gets hot. Push the button back in to reset, and check to see if that solved the problem.
If you flip the switch and there is a hum noise coming from the disposal, but it is not working, turn the switch off right away so you don't overheat it. Take a disposal wrench (a silver allen wrench) that is sometimes found in the cabinet under the sink, as they come with disposals, or you can get one from the hardware store for about $5.00.
With the switch off, insert the allen wrench tip into a same sized hole in the bottom center of the garbage disposal under the sink, and turn the wrench back and fourth to try to loosen what is caught in the disposal keeping it from turning. Most of the time just loosening it is only part of it, then you need to (with switch off) reach your hand in and remove what is stuck. Use caution doing this as it has been my experience that glass is a prime culprit, followed by screws, and any other plastic, metal, or whatever you thought came up missing about a week earlier. If you are able to remove carefully anything in the disposal, you can then, once your hand are out of the way, try again and repeat this process until the sound of the disposal running sounds normal again, or like it usually does, and not grinding.
If you flip the switch and there is no noise, and the reset botton is not tripped, check the plug and cord for power. Usually just a GFCI needs to be reset, or a tripped breaker.
If the disposal is corroded through, and leaking, or if you turn with the wrench, and it is difficult to turn with nothing caught in it, only then will you need to replace it with a new one. Happy repairing, and feel free co contact me with questions, or leave comments.