What Do You Do When Your Garbage Disposal Stops Working? • Chesterfield Service

What Do You Do When Your Garbage Disposal Stops Working?

The garbage disposal in your kitchen sink is a powerful tool. It’s a great way to quickly dispose of food waste and scraps. Like every appliance, however, garbage disposals don’t last forever and oftentimes can need repairs if they’ve been overloaded or if the system swallows the wrong items. A garbage disposal that isn’t working properly can cause improper drainage and nasty clogs. If your garbage disposal has suddenly stopped working, try these tips from Chesterfield Service before you call for help to see if you can get your garbage disposal working again.

Common Garbage Disposal Problems

To keep your garbage disposal working properly, you want to make sure that you only use it to dispose of food waste. However, not all food waste can go down the garbage disposal, and some things can cause big issues. Cooking oil or grease should never go down the garbage disposal. Silverware and cooking utensils can easily slide into the garbage disposal, so make sure your garbage disposal is clear of forks and knives before you start it.

At Chesterfield Service, we’ve seen a variety of garbage disposal problems. Some of the most common culprits are:

  • The garbage disposal is making a humming sound but isn’t operating
  • Drainage of the disposal is slow or doesn’t drain at all
  • The disposal is unresponsive when you hit the switch
  • Garbage disposal won’t stop running

Things You Should Check Before You Try To Fix a Garbage Disposal

Before you stick a tool into a garbage disposal to investigate the issue (never use your bare hands), make sure it is OFF. This is more than just hitting the switch. Unplug the unit if necessary or if it is hardwired, be sure to turn off the garbage disposal at the circuit breaker.

Conversely, if your garbage disposal is not working at all, you should also check to make sure it is plugged in or that the breaker hasn’t been tripped. Once you’ve checked your garbage disposal’s power sources, you can start troubleshooting the problem.

Reset The Garbage Disposal

At the bottom of every garbage disposal is a little red reset button. When your garbage disposal shows no activity at all, hitting the reset switch may be the thing that fixes it. Once you hit the button, try running the disposal. If that hasn’t helped them you’ll want to get some tools.

Rotate the Impeller Plate

If when you try to turn on the garbage disposal and it doesn’t work and instead makes a low humming sound, then something is inside preventing the flywheel or impeller from moving. The humming noise means that the motor is not operating. Leaving the system on for too long could burn out the motor.

From the bottom center of the garbage disposal unit, use a hex key provided by the manufacturer and insert it into the bottom of the unit to free the stuck flywheel or impeller.

Remove Blockages Or Clogs

If your garbage disposal is clogged, do not use chemical drain cleaners to clear the clog. Chemical drain cleaners can be hazardous to your health and your plumbing system. Use a plunger to see if you can clear the clog that way first. If you have a lot of standing water in the sink, remove it with a bucket or a hose. Use the hex key at the bottom of the unit to move the blades back and forth to help break up the clog.


If your garbage disposal leaks from the top of the disposal where it connects to the sink drain, it likely needs to be tightened or resealed. Try to find the source of the leak to determine where the seal is loose. You can use plumbers putty to fix this as well as tighten the mounting bolts.

If your garbage disposal is leaking from the bottom it often means that there is a failed seal or the unit has cracked. You will likely need to replace your garbage disposal.


Talk To Chesterfield Service About Garbage Disposal Repair Services

If you’ve tried all of these tips and are still not able to fix your garbage disposal, or you are unable to perform these checks, then it’s time to call Chesterfield Service. We can assess the issues with your current garbage disposal or install a new garbage disposal if needed. Call us today to schedule an appointment with our team of expert plumbers.