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How to Troubleshoot Garbage Disposal Issues

San Diego Plumber – Emory Plumbing San Diego

How to Troubleshoot Garbage Disposal Issues

Garbage disposals are handy kitchen appliances, and they get used repeatedly throughout the day. With that kind of constant use, problems are bound to happen. Your disposal can jam, get clogged, or not turn on at all.

Here is a quick look at how to troubleshoot garbage disposal issues and fix them.

How Your Garbage Disposal Works 

Your garbage disposal is a simple motorized appliance. It has a shredder that fragments the food you put into it. The debris this creates, liquid and tiny particles, is pushed down the drain by a plate with an impeller arm.

It also has a connection for the dishwasher so that the water that drains out goes through the disposal. The pieces of food from the dirty dishes get broken down before they go down the drain.

That’s how it’s supposed to work. But difficulties can occur. Below is help for common problems.

Safety Rules

Stay safe. You don’t want to get a shock or have your fingers shredded. Before you do any type of inspection or repair on your garbage disposal, remember:

  • Unplug it and turn off the electricity at the circuit breaker panel
  • Keep your fingers and hand out of the disposal grinding chamber 

When You Can’t Turn It On 

If you don’t hear any humming sounds, the problem is with the electrical supply. Your first step is to make sure it is plugged in.

If it is, the next step is to click the reset button, found on the bottom of the disposal. If the button has popped out, you know the reset was successful.

If that doesn’t turn it on, check the circuit breaker. If that doesn’t work, your garbage disposal has probably died. You need a new one. 

When It Just Makes Humming Sounds 

If your disposal won’t start but you hear humming sounds, debris is caught in the flywheel. You can often fix this by following the instructions in your owner’s manual. Most disposals come with an offset wrench to use for this type of repair. 

When It Leaks 

Leaks can happen in several places on your garbage disposal, including:

  • Sink flange
  • Dishwasher connection
  • Discharge drainpipe

The sink flange repair is complicated. It usually means removing the unit, replacing the plumbers putty, then reinstalling the disposal. Check your owner’s manual and online DIY sites for step-by-step directions.

Problems with the discharge drainpipe can also get complex. It means checking the bolts to make sure they are tight. If that doesn’t stop the leak, you’ll need to remove the pipe and bolts so you can install a new gasket.

If the problem is at the dishwasher connection, try tightening the fastening on the dishwasher hose. If you discover that the hose is leaking, you’ll need to replace it. 

When It Drains Slowly 

If your disposal is working slowly, you’re most likely putting the wrong types of food down the drain. Your drain line is clogged.

To fix it, DO NOT use chemical drain cleaners. This will harm the components. And it won’t clear the clog either!

Fixing this can get tricky if you aren’t familiar with pipes and basic plumbing. It means taking off the bolts that hold the discharge pipe and removing the drain trap and discharge drainpipe. Then you get rid of what is obstructing the pipe.

If you don’t find a clog, the problem is in the pipes further down the line and out of sight. It’s time to call in a plumber. 

How To Prevent Clogs 

The best way to avoid a clog is by following your manufacturer’s recommendations. Definitely don’t put potato peelings, coffee grounds, and eggshells into your disposal.

Keep it in good repair by putting chunks of lemon peel and ice into it at least once a week. Keep it smelling nice and reduce buildup by pouring both half a cup of vinegar and baking soda down the disposal once a month. Turn off the disposal and let the mix foam up. When it quits foaming, give your drain a good rinse with running water. 

Call the Experts 

We’re Emory Plumbing, and we’ve been helping homeowners just like you since 1944. We can handle all your garbage disposal needs, including repair, maintenance and installation.

Call Emory Plumbing today for all your plumbing problems.

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