Solutions for a broken kitchen garbage disposal


A broken kitchen garbage disposal can be a frustrating inconvenience in the kitchen. It can disrupt your daily routine and lead to unpleasant odors and clogged drains. However, before rushing to replace the entire unit, there are several solutions you can try to fix a broken garbage disposal. In this guide, we will explore common issues that can cause a garbage disposal to malfunction and provide step-by-step solutions to address them. By following these troubleshooting steps, you may be able to restore your garbage disposal’s functionality and avoid the need for a costly replacement.

Garbage Disposal Not Turning On?

If your garbage disposal is not turning on when you flip the switch, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to address the issue:

Check the power source: Start by ensuring that the garbage disposal is properly plugged into a functioning power outlet. Sometimes the plug may have come loose or disconnected accidentally. Test the outlet with another device to verify if it is supplying power.

Reset the disposal: Most garbage disposals have a reset button located on the bottom or side of the unit. Press the reset button firmly to reset the motor. This can help resolve any temporary electrical issues that may have caused the disposal to shut off.

Check the circuit breaker: If the garbage disposal has its own dedicated circuit, check the circuit breaker panel in your home. Look for the breaker that corresponds to the disposal and see if it has tripped. If it has, flip the breaker back to the “on” position.

Inspect the wiring: Turn off the power to the garbage disposal at the electrical panel for safety. Carefully inspect the wiring connections inside the electrical box where the disposal is connected. Look for any loose or disconnected wires. If you find any, reconnect them securely. Make sure to follow proper electrical wiring procedures or seek assistance from a qualified electrician if needed.

Overload protection: Some garbage disposals have built-in overload protection mechanisms. If the disposal is overloaded or overheated, it may shut off automatically. Wait for a few minutes to allow the motor to cool down, then press the reset button if applicable.

Motor or switch failure: If none of the above steps resolve the issue and the disposal is still not turning on, it is possible that there is a motor or switch failure. In such cases, it may be necessary to replace the garbage disposal or consult a professional plumber or electrician for further diagnosis and repair.

Remember, your safety is paramount when troubleshooting electrical appliances. Always turn off the power at the electrical panel before inspecting or working on the garbage disposal. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with performing any repairs, it’s best to seek professional assistance to avoid any potential hazards.

Jammed Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal is jammed and not grinding properly, follow these steps to address the issue:

Turn off the power: Before attempting to fix a jammed disposal, ensure the power is turned off at the electrical panel or by unplugging it. This will prevent any accidental injury while working on the unit.

Locate the hex key: Most garbage disposals come with a hex key (also known as an Allen wrench) that is used to manually free the impellers. If you don’t have the original hex key, you can use a hex key of the appropriate size.

Insert the hex key: Locate the hex-shaped hole on the bottom of the disposal unit. Insert the hex key into the hole and rotate it back and forth a few times. This motion will help dislodge any obstructions or debris that may be causing the jam.

Remove any obstructions: After using the hex key, use tongs or pliers to reach inside the disposal and remove any visible objects or debris causing the jam. Be careful not to put your hand directly into the disposal.

Reset and test: Once you have cleared the jam and removed any obstructions, press the reset button on the disposal unit (if applicable). This will reset the motor. After that, restore power to the disposal and test if it is now functioning properly. Run water and turn on the disposal to check if it grinds the food waste without any issues.

If the garbage disposal remains jammed or continues to make unusual noises, it may require further attention. In such cases, it’s recommended to consult a professional plumber or contact the manufacturer’s customer support for guidance. Remember, always prioritize your safety when working with electrical appliances and avoid putting your hand inside the disposal chamber.

Leaking Garbage Disposal 

A leaking garbage disposal can be a frustrating issue in the kitchen. Follow these steps to address a leaking garbage disposal:

  • Turn off the power and water: Before inspecting or repairing a leaking disposal, turn off the power at the electrical panel and shut off the water supply to the unit. This will ensure your safety during the process.
  • Check the connections: Inspect the connections between the disposal unit and the sink flange, dishwasher hose, and drain pipe. Look for any loose or poorly sealed connections that may be causing the leak.
  • Tighten the connections: Use a pipe wrench or pliers to tighten any loose connections. Start by checking the mounting bolts that secure the disposal unit to the sink flange. Ensure they are tightened securely but avoid over-tightening to prevent damage.
  • Replace worn gaskets: If the leak persists after tightening the connections, the gaskets between the various connections may be worn or damaged. Disassemble the connections carefully, one at a time, and inspect the gaskets. Replace any worn or damaged gaskets with new ones.
  • Check for cracks or damage: Inspect the disposal unit itself for cracks, holes, or other signs of damage. Look for any visible damage or deterioration in the housing or seals. If you notice significant damage, it may be necessary to replace the entire unit.
  • Test for leaks: After making the necessary repairs or replacements, restore power and water to the disposal. Run water and check for any signs of leakage. Monitor the connections and the bottom of the disposal for any drips or water accumulation. If you still notice leaks, recheck the connections and ensure they are properly tightened and sealed.

If you’re unsure about performing any repairs or if the leakage persists despite your efforts, it’s advisable to consult a professional plumber. They have the expertise and tools to diagnose and fix the issue effectively.

Remember, when working with a garbage disposal, always prioritize your safety and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Turn off the power before any inspection or repair work, and avoid putting your hands or tools inside the disposal chamber.


A broken kitchen garbage disposal doesn’t always require a complete replacement. By following the troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide, you can often fix common issues such as a disposal not turning on, a jammed unit, or a leaking disposal. However, it’s important to prioritize safety and know your limitations. If you’re uncomfortable or unsure about performing repairs, it’s recommended to seek the assistance of a professional plumber or electrician. With proper maintenance and timely repairs, you can extend the lifespan of your garbage disposal and ensure a properly functioning kitchen appliance.

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