Knowing the difference between what can go down the disposal and what should go into the trash can save you an emergency call to the plumber. This is especially pertinent during the holidays when the kitchen is filled with people and the sink with dirty dishes. Practice these three everyday maintenance tips to help you maximize the lifespan of your garbage disposal.
Running the garbage disposal without water or accidentally dropping items, such as flat wear or jewelry, can cause the disposal to jam. Food items, such as corn husks and potato skins, can also cause your disposal to jam. When the disposal motor jams, it can overheat quickly and cause the red button to pop from the bottom of the disposal. This stops the flow of electricity to protect the motor. When the reset button doesn’t work, you need to free the grinding plate or wall to release the jam.
3. Is my plumbing capable of handling the task? If your current plumbing frequently clogs or backs up, then you should NOT install a new garbage disposer. The additional waste that a garbage disposal creates will only increase the chances of one or both happening. Before installing a waste disposer, you’ll need to have the source of the problem identified and fixed.
Typically, garbage disposals usually last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. Well manufactured units may even last longer than that. If you’re really looking to save some money, you can always disconnect your unit, dissect it, seal the crack and reattach it. However, this is just a temporary fix. If you have the money, it’s best just to invest in a new unit.

But to dislodge whatever’s causing it to be in a bind you can use the hex wrench that came with the garbage disposal. I know most people lose them, that’s okay. Grab your set of Allen wrenches, get the right size, insert it into the recess hole right in the bottom of the disposal, and turn it left and right until you dislodge whatever caused it to get into a bind.
If water is leaking from the disposal it more than likely needs a seal replaced but also could be a more serious problem. A leak can occur at the rings that are installed around the sink’s drain hole, called the sink flange. In that case, it can either be that the rings need to be tightened or that the plumber’s putty is faulty and needs to be reapplied correctly.

If your disposal grinds poorly, make sure that you are running enough water while operating the unit and that you are not grinding matter that you shouldn’t. If you can hear the garbage disposal running but it is not grinding, the blades may be broken. It’s usually easier and cheaper to just replace the entire unit. See How to Install a Garbage Disposal.

How many years do garbage disposals last? One the average, quite a long time. In fact, with adequate care and proper maintenance, garbage disposal units can be of good service for about 8 to 15 years. This means the blades remain efficient and the motor has not burned out yet. This being said, neglecting garbage disposal leaks will significantly decrease this effective service life.


You should first find out whether only the disposal is broken, or if the power has gone out completely in the areas near your kitchen sink. Try resetting the circuit breaker that leads to the kitchen, or replacing a fuse if you have an older electrical box. If the garbage disposal makes no noises at all when you flip the switch, you might also want to check under the sink to see that it’s plugged in.

Garbage Disposal Install

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