Make sure that there is power getting to the unit. Garbage disposals have an independent cord that is plugged into a wall socket beneath the sink. Unplug the disposal unit and plug another small appliance, like a desk fan, into the wall socket. Turn the appliance on to see if it works. If it doesn't work, check the breaker panel. If the breaker is flipped to the "On" position, there is an electrical problem on that circuit, and an electrician must be called in.
Dispose orange peels, or any citrus rinds, to freshen the disposal and keep it smelling clean, but cut them into slices first as large pieces of citrus peel, e.g. half a lime, can jam a disposal. You can also use pieces of citrus fruit that may be too old to consume, as long as they're not too spoiled to smell nice. You can freeze these pieces first, if you wish.
Run a few trays of ice cubes, orange peels and salt through the disposal to remove odors and keep your disposals clean. For really tough odors, add 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar and let it stand for 15 minutes before rinsing. Also, running ice through the disposal will actually sharpen the teeth, keeping foods from getting stuck in the unit.
For any major issues with the garbage disposal, you should leave the job to a professional plumber only. Reaching your hand into the drain is dangerous, even if you believe the power is shut off. A plumber can help you evaluate the state of your disposal, and decide whether or not you need a new unit. Upgrading to a faster disposal unit with a higher horsepower can help to protect your pipes and make cleaning up after meals even easier.
If the garbage disposal won't turn on but the motor makes a humming sound when you flip the switch, it indicates that the inner flywheel is jammed. Usually, this causes the appliance's reset button to pop or the circuit breaker to trip very quickly. This is not a situation you want to continue for very long, as it can burn out the disposer's motor unless the reset button or circuit breaker shuts things off.
After using the lowest cost disposers for over 20 years now, I find the newest models have not withstood regular use for more than 5 years. The older models had a blue housing where this next step-up model has a black housing which I am hoping for at least 5 years use. Our oldest (blue housing) disposers have lasted at least 5 years and some are now almost 20 years old.
Español: limpiar un triturador de basura, Português: Limpar um Triturador de Alimentos, Italiano: Pulire un Tritarifiuti da Lavandino, Deutsch: Den Küchenabfallzerkleinerer reinigen, Français: nettoyer votre broyeur d'évier, 中文: 清洁垃圾处理器, Русский: почистить утилизатор отходов, Bahasa Indonesia: Membersihkan Saluran Pembuangan Sampah, Nederlands: Je afvalvermaler schoonmaken, العربية: تنظيف مصرف النفايات
A foul or foreign odor emanating from the garbage disposal that won’t go away no matter how thoroughly you have rinsed it, may also be a sign that it’s time to replace it. As the components in the grinding chamber wear out and the blades get duller and duller, food can easily get trapped inside and start to decompose. You may never have noticed the smell or have chosen to adapt and wait it out, but it may be a sign of a deeper problem. Visiting family members and dinner guests probably wouldn’t appreciate it very much, either.
If your garbage disposal is not running, first check to see if it is plugged in and receiving power. If so then check to see whether it will turn freely with your service wrench. Most disposers are sent with a self service wrench. The wrench is silver and should be located on or near your garbage disposal. (Check under your sink!) If it will not turn freely using the wrench, the disposal is most likely jammed. Check to see if the reset button has popped out.
Cecilia Harsch has been writing professionally since 2009. She writes mainly home improvement, health and travel articles for various online publications. She has several years of experience in the home-improvement industry, focusing on gardening, and a background in group exercise instruction. Harsch received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004. She attended Tarrant County College and studied English composition.