What do you do when you’re standing by your sink, flipping the switch to your garbage disposal, and nothing happens? Many homeowners have experienced the strange silence or humming noise that accompanies broken garbage disposals.
The main question on your mind is probably whether to call a plumber or address the problem yourself.
If this sounds like a situation you’re dealing with now, read on to find out if the issue is something you can tackle with a trip to the hardware store.
Fixing Your Garbage Disposal
Tip #1: Make sure it isn’t a problem with the electrical system
If turning on the power switch to the disposal does nothing, the issue could be a result of an electrical problem. If you have an older unit, check the outlet (typically located under the sink) to ensure the disposal unit is securely plugged in. However, most newer garbage disposals are hard-wired into your home’s electrical system. At your main service panel, try flipping the circuit breaker that powers the garbage disposal.
Another issue could be that the garbage disposal needs to reset. On the bottom of your garbage disposal unit is a reset button. Press the reset button, and then try flipping the switch to turn on your garbage disposal.
Tip #2: Check to see if anything is jammed
If you go to turn on the garbage disposal and hear a quiet humming noise, there’s a good chance that an object is jamming the blades. Use a flashlight or a light from your phone to look down into the disposal.
It’s typical for utensils, hard avocado or peach pits, or other items to accidentally fall in. It can also happen if there is too much waste going down the disposal at once.
First, make sure the disposal is off. Next, always remember that you should never put your fingers or hands down the garbage disposal.
Using a long fork, pliers, or another tool to help you unblock the blades, carefully remove the item(s) causing the jam.
Tip #3: Replace the entire unit
If you’ve done the above, your garbage disposal will likely need to be replaced. Many homeowners feel comfortable doing the replacement themselves.
Garbage disposals can cost anywhere from $75 to a few hundred dollars, depending on the brand, model, or horsepower. Depending on the garbage disposal you choose for your home, you may spend several minutes or hours in an uncomfortable position to do the job.
Other homeowners, however, may not have the tools required to complete the task and would rather hire a plumbing professional to complete the installation.
Either way, be sure to do your homework so you can get the job done right. If going the DIY route, there are several tools you need, including:
- Flat-headed screwdriver
- Philips-head screwdriver
- Needle-nose pliers
- Plumber’s putty
- Putty knife
If you choose to hire a plumbing professional to install a new garbage disposal, be sure to hire one who has experience with plumbing systems throughout the home and the know-how to get the job done right the first time.