How to Fix the Garbage Disposal: A Comprehensive Guide

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Are you tired of dealing with a smelly, noisy, or malfunctioning garbage disposal? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Garbage disposals are a staple in most modern kitchens, making it easy to dispose of food waste quickly. However, like any other appliance, garbage disposals can experience issues or breakdowns, causing inconvenience and frustration.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through how to fix your garbage disposal, step-by-step. You’ll learn the signs of a broken garbage disposal, the steps to fix it, and preventative measures to avoid future issues. By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to maintain your garbage disposal’s good condition and avoid costly repairs.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of fixing your garbage disposal, let’s first understand what it is and why it’s essential to keep it in good condition.

Signs of a Broken Garbage Disposal

Is your garbage disposal making strange noises or emitting foul odors? These are signs that your garbage disposal is broken and needs repair. Here are the most common signs of a broken garbage disposal:

Strange Noises

Grinding, humming, or squealing sounds are common signs of a broken garbage disposal. If you hear any of these noises, it may indicate that something is stuck in the disposal blades or that the blades are damaged.

Foul Odors

If your garbage disposal smells like rotten food or sewage, it’s a sign that there is a buildup of food debris or grease in the unit. This buildup can lead to clogs and make it difficult for the disposal to function correctly.

Clogged Drains

If your sink is draining slowly, it could be a sign of a clogged drain. A clogged drain can cause food waste to back up into the disposal and cause damage.

Failure to Turn On

If your garbage disposal won’t turn on, it may indicate a problem with the electrical supply or a malfunctioning switch. In some cases, it may also indicate that the disposal blades are jammed, preventing the unit from functioning correctly.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to address them promptly. Ignoring these issues can lead to more severe problems and costly repairs down the road.

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Steps to Fix a Garbage Disposal

Dealing with a broken garbage disposal can be a daunting experience, but fixing it is easier than you might think. Follow these steps to get your garbage disposal up and running in no time.

A. Turn off the Power

Before starting any repairs or maintenance, it’s essential to turn off the power to your garbage disposal. Safety should always come first when dealing with electrical appliances. To turn off the power, locate the electrical switch or unplug the power cord.

B. Identify the Problem

Once the power is off, it’s time to inspect your garbage disposal and identify the problem. There are several common issues that your garbage disposal may encounter, including strange noises, foul odors, clogged drains, or failure to turn on.

Inspect the disposal unit, check for blockages, and determine if the blades are damaged. If you’re not sure what the problem is, try running the disposal and listen for any unusual sounds or vibrations.

C. Fix the Problem

Now that you’ve identified the problem, it’s time to fix it. If there is a blockage, remove it using tongs or pliers. If the blades are damaged, replace them. Be sure to reconnect any disconnected wires and tighten any loose screws.

D. Turn the Power Back On

After fixing the problem, it’s time to turn the power back on. Test the unit to ensure it’s working correctly. Turn on the water and run the disposal to check for any leaks or unusual sounds.

By following these simple steps, you can fix most common garbage disposal issues quickly and easily. However, if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, it’s always best to seek professional help.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Garbage Disposal Issues

One of the best ways to avoid garbage disposal issues is by taking preventative measures. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your garbage disposal remains in good condition, and you’ll avoid costly repairs. Here are some preventative measures you can take:

Proper Use of the Disposal

One of the biggest mistakes people make with garbage disposals is using them improperly. To avoid damaging your garbage disposal, follow these tips:

  • Don’t put non-food items down the disposal
  • Avoid putting fibrous or starchy foods down the disposal
  • Cut larger food items into smaller pieces before putting them down the disposal
  • Don’t overload the disposal with too much food at once
  • Run cold water down the disposal for at least 15 seconds after use
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Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Like any other appliance, garbage disposals require regular cleaning and maintenance. Here are some tips to keep your garbage disposal clean and well-maintained:

  • Run cold water down the disposal after each use to flush out any remaining food particles
  • Use a garbage disposal cleaner or make your own by pouring a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the disposal and letting it sit for a few minutes before flushing with water
  • Grind ice cubes in the disposal to help clean the blades
  • Have the disposal inspected and maintained by a professional at least once a year

Professional Inspection and Repair

If you’re experiencing frequent issues with your garbage disposal, it’s best to have it inspected and repaired by a professional. A professional can identify and fix any underlying issues, ensuring that your garbage disposal operates efficiently and effectively. Additionally, they can provide tips on proper use and maintenance to avoid future issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I fix my own garbage disposal?

Yes, you can fix some minor issues with your garbage disposal on your own. However, it’s important to note that if you’re not experienced in handling electrical appliances, it’s better to leave the repairs to a professional. Attempting to fix a complicated issue without the necessary knowledge can put you at risk of electrical shock or cause further damage to the device.

How long does a garbage disposal last?

The lifespan of a garbage disposal depends on several factors, including the quality of the product, frequency of use, and how well it’s maintained. On average, a garbage disposal can last anywhere from 8 to 15 years. However, if you notice any significant issues, such as strange noises, foul odors, or clogged drains, it may be time to replace your garbage disposal.

What should I do if my garbage disposal won’t turn on?

If your garbage disposal won’t turn on, the first thing you should do is check if the power source is working correctly. Ensure the unit is plugged in and check the circuit breaker or fuse boIf everything seems to be in order, try pressing the reset button on the bottom of the unit. If the issue persists, there may be a more severe electrical issue that requires professional attention.

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Can I put eggshells in my garbage disposal?

While eggshells are biodegradable and won’t harm your garbage disposal, it’s best to avoid putting them in the unit. Eggshells can quickly turn into a sticky paste, which can clog your pipes and cause issues with your plumbing system. It’s better to dispose of eggshells in the trash or compost.

What should I do if my garbage disposal is leaking?

If your garbage disposal is leaking, it’s crucial to address the issue immediately to avoid further damage and prevent water damage to your home. First, turn off the power supply to the unit. Then, inspect the disposal for any visible cracks or damages. If you notice any, it’s best to replace the unit. If you can’t identify the source of the leak, it’s best to call a professional plumber to assess and fix the issue.


In conclusion, a garbage disposal is a convenient and time-saving appliance in your kitchen. With regular maintenance and care, you can ensure it stays in good condition and avoids costly repairs or replacements.

By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can fix common issues with your garbage disposal and prevent future problems. Remember to turn off the power, identify the problem, fix it, and turn the power back on to test the unit.

Additionally, it’s crucial to take preventative measures to avoid future issues. Proper use, regular cleaning, and professional inspection and repair can prolong the life of your garbage disposal and save you money in the long run.

Don’t let a broken garbage disposal ruin your day. Take action and fix any issues promptly with the help of this guide. By doing so, you’ll have a fully functioning and efficient garbage disposal, making your kitchen clean-up a breeze.

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