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.
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.
We’re starting with clogs because they’re actually only *kind of* garbage disposal problems. Technically, garbage disposals can get jammed (see below!), but if water stands in your sink and takes forever to drain, it’s probably because the kitchen sink pipe has been clogged. Many different materials can cause clogs, from sediment, to scale, to grease, to food remains. Depending on the culprit, clogs may begin to smell. Ideally, your garbage disposal should have ground up debris enough that it wouldn’t clog anything up, but nobody’s perfect.
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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.
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Locate the leak. Wipe off the disposal unit with a dry rag. Run water into the unit and turn it on. There are four places where the disposal unit may leak. At the top main seal, at the drain pipe, at the optional dishwasher inlet or along the garbage disposal body. Notice where the water is coming from. If the unit is wet at the very top, the main seal is leaking. If the area beneath the drain pipe is wet, the gasket is leaking. If the hose from the dishwasher feed drips, the hose or clamp may be faulty. If water is running out the bottom of the unit but the inlets and outlet are dry, the unit itself has developed a leak and must be replaced.
Determine whether there's an Allen-wrench port at the bottom of the disposal, which is located under the sink. If there is, insert an Allen-wrench into the port and turn it back and forth to move the masher plate and dislodge the glass. If you can't find an Allen-wrench port, insert the handle of a broom or a hammer into the top of the garbage disposal and wiggle it around to try to dislodge the glass.
Disposals can leak at a couple different places. Start by turning off the disposal at its base. Then, find the disposal mount and remove the unit by turning it counterclockwise from the bottom. Once the disposal has been removed from the mount, you should be able to see the three mounting bolts. Tighten these bolts to make sure they’re not leaking.
To replace a rubber gasket, your first step will be to unplug the cord to the garbage disposal and then disconnect the drain. If you have a dishwasher installed in your kitchen, the dishwasher drain hose will need to be disconnected from the disposer. With the cord and appropriate drain lines removed, you can now grasp the sides of the mounting nut and twist it in a counter clockwise motion, which unlocks the garbage disposal. The waste disposer should then drop right down.
If your garbage disposal just won’t turn at all, then it’s very likely that the disposal has lost power. Your unit may have blown a circuit, or it could be unplugged. First, check the plug for your garbage disposal to ensure that it’s secure. Next, locate the reset button on the underside of the unit, and push it. If neither of these things fixes the problem, look inside your electrical panel for signs of a tripped circuit.