How to Fix a Garbage Disposal

garbage disposal in sink view

If your garbage disposal stops working in the middle of operation, it may have become jammed and/or the built-in circuit breaker may have tripped. These are the most common reasons for a disposal failure.

To Reset the Breaker

reset button on garbage disposal

A garbage disposal has a built in circuit breaker to protect against overload on the motor from material too hard for it to handle.

To restore power in case of a tripped breaker, turn off the wall switch to the disposal. Let the motor cool for about 5 minutes and clear all debris from the grinding chamber.

Push the reset button located on the bottom of the disposal housing and operate the wall switch to turn the disposal on.

To Fix a Jammed Disposal

using a wrench to fix garbage disposal

If the reset button doesn't restore power to the disposal, the grinder may be jammed. To loosen it, use a hex wrench to turn the motor shaft from the bottom of the housing. A wrench is usually included with the disposal, but if yours has gone missing, a standard hex key set should have a wrench that will fit.

Look under the disposal to locate the motor shaft access hole. Insert the wrench firmly into the hole and move it back and forth until the jam loosens and you can turn the motor one complete revolution without resistance.

Try turning the disposal on. If it doesn't operate, turn the switch back off and hit the reset button on the bottom of the housing. If the reset doesn't restore power, check the service panel to see if the breaker for the disposal circuit has tripped and reset it if necessary.