Common Garbage Disposal Problems & Solutions

by Paul

benefits of garbage disposal

If you are using a garbage disposal you must know, it is one of the least demanding appliances in your kitchen. It hides under your sink and eats up all the trash you throw it.

But sometimes it may cause issues that need to be solved for further usage. These problems occur for various reasons. Below I’ll point out the most common garbage disposal problems and their solutions.

A proper maintenance helps you ignore all common garbage disposal problems that can occur. Sometimes, users do silly things with their appliances that cause damage to the unit and cost them time, effort and money.

So, if you are a new user, you should know what type of troubleshooting you are going to face for what reason. If you already are facing a problem of garbage disposal, I hope my suggestions will help you.

Common Garbage Disposal Problems:

  • Garbage Disposal Humming
  • Jammed Garbage Disposal
  • Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn On
  • Garbage Disposal Draining Slowly
  • Leaking Garbage Disposal
  • Garbage Disposal Reset button Doesn’t Work

1. Garbage Disposal Humming Solution

If your garbage disposal hums and does not start, that means somehow it got stuck. It is one of the most common garbage disposal problems. All you need to do is clean the stuck blades of the disposal. Follow these easy steps to stop the garbage disposal humming.

Before going to start any type of fixing work with your garbage disposal you need to remember unplugging the electricity connection from it and never put your hands in your disposal. The blades may cut your fingers or can cause worse accidents.

  • Step 1: Pour Water
    Take three big bowls of hot water and pour it one by one inside your disposal unit. This will clean any solid fat, grease or oil from the corners of your disposal chamber. Wait for 10 minutes. Now, turn on cold water inside the disposal unit. This will clean any remaining hot water that may grab some fat, grease or oil.
  • Step 2: Push the reset button
    Check the reset button that is located underneath your disposal unit. If it is popped up then push it. If it still popped out wait for 10 minutes and try to push it again. That gives your disposal unit a restart.
  • Step 3: Use an Allen Wrench
    Reach to the hole beside the reset button and put the wrench in it. Try to move it back and forth until it goes smooth. This will unjam the disposal unit.
  • Step 4: Turn it on
    Turn it on and listen if the humming is gone. If not, repeat the process again. Now, hopefully your garbage disposal is good to go. Read more for a detailed solution.

2. Jammed Garbage Disposal

When do you know your garbage disposal is jammed? It may make noise or it may not, but it will not turn on. If your garbage disposal is jammed, then you need to unjam it the same way I explained in humming problem. But there are few more things that can cause a jammed garbage disposal.

  • Is there any foreign substance inside the disposal unit?
    Garbage disposals are made only for disposing of food. If anything like paper, plastic or metal (jewelry, keys or spoons) accidentally drops inside your disposal, thus compromising it, you need to stop the disposal and take it out. Use needle nose pliers to remove it from the grinder safely.
  • Is your disposal jammed for a clog?
    If your disposal hasn’t been cleaned for a long time and there is leftover waste inside the unit, then it may get clogged. To solve this problem, you can use cleaning techniques like washing it with soapy water or simply running cold water on it. But for the best result, you can remove the disposal, clean it and then reinstall it.
  • Spin with an Allen Wrench or a Broomstick
    when your disposal is jammed try to spin it with an Allen Wrench from the bottom as I explained above. You can also use a broomstick and try to spin the grinding blades from the top. For a good result use some dish soap to use it as a lubricant. Read more for a detailed solution.

3. Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn On

This is one of those garbage disposal problems that either gets solved very easily or won’t get solved at all. Sometimes when a disposal’s grinding ability exceeds the amount of waste, it can overheat. Whenever the unit needs to generate more power than the motor can take, it automatically turns off. So can happen when the grinding blades are jammed for any reason.

In these type of cases, you will find that the reset button is popped out. Wait several minutes to let the disposal cool down a bit. In the meantime, you can pour cold water into the sink and try the steps to unjam the disposal (as mentioned above). Now turn on the disposal. Other solutions can be found here.

If this problem is not solved even after applying the cleaning and unjamming solutions then you may need the manufacturer or professional to handle it.

4. Garbage Disposal Draining Slowly

The problem of garbage disposal slow drain occurs for many reasons. But the most common reason is the clogged waste in disposal and drain pipe. To get rid of this issue, you can try these easy solutions.

  • Solution 1:
    Clean all the pipelines that are connected with your garbage disposal. Your garbage disposal unit has two main drain lines. One is the main pipe that connects with the sewer. Another is the dishwasher connection. Take off both the lines and clean any unwanted remaining waste substances.

    To clean the long unreachable pipes, use a sink auger. If you do not have a sink auger, use anything like a ⅛“ diameter stainless steel cable. Bend it and then use to pull off any clog or blockage.
  • Solution 2:
    Put some dishwasher tablet inside the disposal unit. Now, using the allen wrench or broomstick, give it a spin. Now pour a good amount of water into it. The water pressure will help you to clean all the unreachable areas easily. Repeat this task until the water flows faster.
  • Solution 3:
    If your disposal is clean but it’s still draining slowly, then there is a possibility that the blades are no longer sharp enough to grind the food properly. This means you need to replace your disposal soon. More on this unclogging your disposal is found here.

5. Leaking Garbage Disposal

If your disposal is leaking, first of all, find out where the leak is situated. General garbage disposal problems with leaking can occur for various reasons.

  • Leaking from top:
    Your disposal can leak from the upper part if the sink flange is damaged or loose. Same can happen to the gasket that holds the mounting. Make sure both of these parts are in good condition. Otherwise, you need to replace it. If they are in good condition, then may be some connection is loose. Change the old plumber’s putty and tighten up the mounting. Hopefully, this will solve the leak.
  • Leaking from drain lines: 
    If your drain like is dislocated or disconnected, connect them properly. In the case of loose connection, you can use a rubber gasket of that pipe’s size which is available in the market.
  • Leaking from Dishwasher Connection:
    Dishwashers get connected with the disposal through a hose line with a metal clamp. If the clamp is not secure enough, it can leak water. Check the dishwasher hose and tighten the clamp to avoid such leaks.
  • Leaking from Bottom:
    A leak from bottom means that there is a broken disposal. Maybe some parts inside the disposal unit were broken somehow. In this case, you need to replace your disposal or contact with the manufacturer for warranty. Read more for a detailed solution. A more detailed instruction about this is here.


Try to push the reset button as I mentioned in “Garbage disposal won’t turn on” section. If your disposal’s reset button is not working at all, then you need to contact the manufacturer. Either the reset button defects or your disposal’s motor has failed – thus, you need a replacement.

In conclusion, I hope you that my solutions for your garbage disposal problems were useful. For any more queries ask in the comment section.

Check out our list of 5 smallest garbage disposal units on the market.

Here you can also check our list of 5 quietest garbage disposal units on the market.