Every once in a great while, we stumble across a tip that’s just too handy not to pass on. Lucky for you, today is that day. At Herrmann Services, our plumbers fix dozens of plumbing problems every day. They also know all the tricks of the trade. Today, we’re sharing a garbage disposal tip that just may help you out of a jam (literally) and save you a service call.
When the Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn On
Safety reminder: Never put your hand down into the garbage disposal (grinding chamber). Use a wooden spoon or another tool to dislodge anything stuck.
Your garbage disposal is smarter than you think. It is designed to turn off automatically when the disposal gets clogged, if it overheats, or if there is something wrong with the motor. The simple fix you probably didn’t know about is the little red reset button on the bottom of your disposal.
First, make sure the disposal is turned off. Look for a red button underneath the disposal. If it has popped out about a quarter of an inch, simply press it back in and try running the disposal. Sometimes this is all it takes. Don’t forget to check the electrical panel to see if the breaker needs to be flipped back on.
If the garbage disposal reset button still will not stay in, or if you have to repeatedly reset the breaker, the disposal may be jammed. Read on to troubleshoot a garbage disposal jam.
When the Motor Hums But Won’t Grind
If the motor hums, but there is no grinding sound, that means the flywheel is stuck. Either the reset button will trip or the fuse or circuit breaker in your electrical service panel will trip and turn off the disposal. The flywheel is stuck because something is lodged between it or the impeller(s) and the shredder ring. Learn about the anatomy of a garbage disposal below:
How to Dislodge the Jam
Here’s another handy trick to know about your garbage disposal. You can turn the flywheel from under the disposal as well. Just take the offset wrench that came with the disposal and insert it into the flywheel turning hole in the bottom of the unit. If you don’t see a wrench, it’s just a simple Allen wrench and you can pick one up from the hardware store. Turn the wrench clockwise to dislodge the stuck impeller or flywheel. When it dislodges, you’ll feel the flywheel turn freely.
Once freed, turn the power back on at the electrical panel and press the reset button before trying the disposal. But don’t turn on the disposal yet. Run water and quickly flip the switch on and off to spin the flywheel, dislodge any obstruction, and rinse it down the drain. If you don’t see an obstruction and the disposal will not run, it may require service or replacement.
10 Things You Should Never Put Down Garbage Disposal
- Grease – it will coat your pipes
- Bones – they’ll just keep spinning around and around with the blades
- Celery – the fibrous strings get tangled around the disposal blades
- Coffee grounds – the oil in coffee grounds becomes a sticky sludge
- Eggshells – ground egg shells become sand-like particles that stick to grease
- Corn husks – the fibers get caught in the blades
- Artichokes – again, too fibrous
- Fruit pits – pits are very hard and can jam the disposal blades
- Potato peels – starchy vegetables and even pasta can cause a sticky mess
- Your hand – nuff said
If these tips don’t work, call the plumbers in Cincinnati at Herrmann Services and we’ll be there in a jiffy to fix that garbage disposal or replace it if necessary.