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Fixing Your Garbage Disposal


Garbage disposals are one of those super-convenient kitchen features that we take for granted, until they stop working and we’re stuck with a clogged drain. If you have a double-sided sink, you can get away with living with the problem for a few days, but at some point, you’ll need to fix it. Here are a few tips to try before calling an expensive plumber.

As always, safety first – unplug the disposal before attempting any of these fixes!

• Drain clogged? Use a toilet plunger to see if you can dislodge the food/object/gunk that’s blocking your drain. If your sink won’t drain at all, scoop out as much water as you can before trying this method. Don’t wear a fancy shirt, as the water will probably splash up on you when you get the clog free. Keep some towels handy to wipe up the mess (and your shirt).

• Is your disposal not switching on? Check the electrical outlet that it’s plugged into – you may need to flip your circuit breaker. Most disposals come with a reset button as well. Try pressing that to see if it solves the issue.

• Got something stuck in there? Objects can become lodged in the moving pieces of the disposal and prevent it from working properly. Of course after unplugging it, reach your hand in to see if you can feel what’s stuck and gently remove it. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to remove the unit to get a better view and angle to remove the stuck object.

• If a leak under the sink is your problem, check for cracked pipes and a tight seal leading to and from your disposal unit.

– Using a plumber’s or adjustable wrench, loosen and then tighten up all the connections before running water to see if that solves it.

– If not, remove the disposal from its connection to the drain and then pull out the drain cover. Remove the old putty that’s probably cracked and dried and replace with fresh plumber’s putty – use more than you think you might need, as the extras will squish out and you can easily wipe away after your drain is fitted back on.

If none of the above solve the problem, it might be time to replace the disposal.