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5 Easy Steps to Reset a Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a convenient appliance that shreds up food scraps, so you can dispose of them via your plumbing. But there are many reasons it can stop working. That can disrupt your kitchen routine and risk a clogged drain. However, you can easily reset a garbage disposal if it won’t turn on, jams, or stalls. Here are five steps to getting it working again.

1. Find Out Why the Unit Isn’t Working

Don’t put your hand in the disposal, even if you can see an obstruction. Although the impeller blades are rather dull, they can still injure you. Nevertheless, most of the common garbage disposal issues are easy to diagnose.

If the unit won’t turn on, check that it is plugged in. If so, use the reset button (which we’ll explain below) or check the main service panel. Perhaps a circuit breaker has tripped and needs to be reset. Sometimes, a wiring connection on the disposal needs to be tightened to fix the problem.

A humming sound often means the flywheel is jammed, usually because something is lodged between the impeller and shredder ring. Turn the power off at the breaker and insert an offset wrench into the flywheel turning hole at the base of the disposal. Turn the wrench clockwise until the flywheel starts to turn.

You can also reach into the unit with a wooden spoon handle or other wooden object to free a stuck flywheel. If you can see the object with a flashlight, remove it with pliers, and then proceed with the next steps toreset the garbage disposal.

2. Turn the Disposal Off

The garbage disposal’s reset button acts as sort of a circuit breaker. It is called an overload protector. When something is wrong, it will pop to prevent the motor from burning out. Before you can reset the appliance, you must first turn the disposal switch to the “OFF” position.

3. Find the Red Reset Button

 When the overload protector has tripped, you can get the unit working again by pressing the red reset button. It will pop out about a quarter of an inch. Press it in gently to reset the disposal. It may not stay in if there’s an unresolved problem with the system. If there’s no obvious obstruction, it may still be overloaded, so wait ten minutes before trying the reset button again.

4. Turn on the Disposal

If the red button stays retracted, start running the cold water tap. Then turn the disposal switch to the “ON” position. The garbage disposal should now run normally. If it doesn’t, or the overload protector needs to be repeatedly reset, call a plumbing contractor to service the unit, or check whether there are simple repairs you can do.

5. Make Simple Repairs

Resetting a circuit breaker or freeing up the flywheel are things you can do yourself, as mentioned earlier. If the disposal won’t reset, you can try disassembling the control switch. If a wire connection is loose, this lets you tighten it to resolve the problem. A faulty switch may need to be replaced as well. Leaks or drainage problems can require various troubleshooting and repair steps. If you encounter such issues, it’s best to call a professional to address them.

*Don’t ever pour a chemical drain cleaner into a garbage disposal. It is usually not effective, can flood your sink with toxic chemicals, and may damage the appliance and void its warranty.

Contact Hays Heating, Cooling & Plumbing

Garbage disposal and repair is part of the plumbing services we provide across the Phoenix area. Our technicians are licensed, insured, and trusted to deliver the highest quality service. In addition to garbage disposals, we service faucets, plumbing fixtures, pipes, toilets, water heaters, gas lines, sewer pipes, and more. If you experience issues with these or can’treset a garbage disposal, just call 602-932-6856 to request service.

About the Author

Chris Hays

Founder of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing

Chris and Stacia Hays, are the founders of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing; a family operated HVAC company in Phoenix founded in 2001 that services both commercial and residential customers. Chris leads a team of certified technicians who have over 45 years of combined experience and has earned and A+ rating with the BBB and a strong five star rating online. Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing focuses on providing support to their customers every step of the way, with exceptional service and competitive prices. If you are looking for top-notch air conditioning and heating service, contact Hays today.