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5 Reasons Your Garbage Disposal Is Not Working

5 Reasons Your Garbage Disposal Is Not Working

Picture this: You’ve just finished dinner and want to wash the dishes. You rinse off the plates—and discard excess food down the drain—then reach to turn on the garbage disposal. After standing there for a few seconds, you realize the garbage disposal is not working. If you’re not sure why it’s malfunctioning, check out the most likely reasons why garbage disposals stop working and ways to fix the problem.

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Why Is My Garbage Disposal Not Working?

If your garbage disposal isn’t working, one of these reasons might explain why. Before checking your disposal, always turn off the kitchen breaker to avoid personal injury due to possible blade movement.

1. Won’t Turn On

If your garbage disposal won’t turn on, one of the following reasons might be the cause:

  • – Electrical issues: Either the power cord is unplugged, or something is wrong with the power source.
  • – Clogged: Food or other objects are stuck in the drain.
  • – Broken motor: The motor is dead.

Start by making sure the power cord to the disposal is plugged in, and check the breaker for any blown fuses. Next, check the disposal for blockage and remove any clogged items. If your disposal still doesn’t work after completing these steps, your disposal needs replacing.

2. Humming Sound

Is your garbage disposal creating a humming noise when it’s operating? If you notice a humming sound and your garbage disposal is not working correctly, this is a sign of malfunctioning blades. Although the garbage disposal is receiving power, an issue may be preventing the blades from turning. The following issues may be responsible for the broken garbage disposal in your kitchen.

  • – Overheating: When the disposal is used too frequently, the blades shut off to prevent overheating.
  • – Worn grinder: Like kitchen knives, the blades on the grinder wear and become dull.
  • – Clogged grinder: A clogged grinder prevents the blades from turning.

If overheating is the issue, you will need to shut the system off and allow it to cool. One way to simultaneously fix all three issues is to press the reset button. If your disposal makes a humming sound due to one of the above reasons, the reset button will get it working again. If pressing the reset button doesn’t fix the issue, you’ll need to replace your disposal.

Plumber3. Water Leak

A water leak can cause your garbage disposal to stop working and may originate in one of the following places:

  • – Gaskets
  • – Drain lines
  • – Crack(s)
  • – Reset button

Start by locating the leak’s source and use epoxy to patch any small cracks. Make sure the pipe connecting the dishwasher to the drain pipe is sealed. If you find major cracks or broken pipes, you’ll need to replace them.

4. Inefficient Draining

Medium to large blockages in your drain may be the reason your garbage disposal is not working. Food waste can clog your disposal, causing blades to stop working and water to bubble in the sink. These clogs typically occur in the drain trap of an S or P-shaped pipe.

To fix this problem, start by unhooking the drain trap from the disposal unit. Catch any excess water in a small bucket. Clean the drain trap with a cable or an auger to remove any food waste. You also might want to sharpen the grinder blades so they will chop food more effectively and prevent future clogs.

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5. Strange Odors

Food waste that sits too long in your disposal starts to smell bad pretty fast. Fix this problem ASAP before the smell worsens. Try one of these home remedies to clear the food waste in your garbage disposal to get rid of the smell:

  • – Throw a few citrus peels down the disposal
  • – Pour bleach or vinegar down the drain
  • – Sharpen the blades with ice cubes

Sink2 Types of Garbage Disposals

Your garbage disposal is one of the following two kinds:

Continuous Feed Garbage Disposals

Continuous feed disposals are the more common option. As long as they’re turned on, they grind food waste as you rinse it down the sink drain.


  • – Grinds food waste continually
  • – Convenient to use while cooking meals
  • – Various model options


  • – Grinds non-food items that fall down the drain
  • – Requires lots of water to function properly
  • – Decreased control of power usage

Batch Feed Garbage Disposals

A batch feed disposal works by turning it on, filling the chamber with food waste, and grinding the waste by inserting the drain cover in the hole.


  • – More efficient use of water and power
  • – Food waste grinds simultaneously
  • – Lower chance of non-food items getting stuck
  • – Drain cover protects hands from blades


  • – Typically more expensive
  • – Food chamber may have bacterial growth

WM Henderson Staff

Garbage Disposal Repair & Installation Services

Whether your garbage disposal won’t turn on or is not working correctly, our team of emergency plumbers are available to fix the problem! We offer garbage disposal repair and installation services to homeowners in Pennsylvania.

In addition, our team offers other types of plumbing services such as water softener replacement, water heater repair, gas line installation, and sump pump repair. Give our team a call by phone at (484) 206-8594 to speak with a trained technician.

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