Garbage disposals are one of the most useful appliances in today’s modern home. They are used almost daily by everyone in the home. The problem with this hearty appliance is it receives literally no maintenance and it is the root of nasty smells in the kitchen that most folks don’t know what to do about. Look below at a list of strategies homeowners can use to keep their garbage disposal from smelling bad and keep it working well:

Fixing Your Home’s Clogged Garbage Disposal

The standard garbage disposal is a powerful appliance that can tear up several types of food scraps, but sometimes items are thrown down in the disposal that cannot and should not be in it. Items like fruit pits, wash rags, sponges and kitchen utensils like knives, spoons and forks have no business in the garbage disposal. When a garbage disposal encounters items like these it will normally stop working and it may end up breaking. Here are several strategies to use to repair the problem:

  • Unplug the unit from its electrical outlet.
  • Look down the sink hole to the top part of the garbage disposal. If you see any items stuck inside the unit, use a pair of needle nose plyers or a set of steel tongs to pull whatever is down in there out.
  • Crawl under the sink and look under the garbage disposal unit bottom and find the hex nut hole. Use a hex screwdriver or an Allen wrench and turn the hex nut clockwise several times. Turning the hex nut may loosen whatever is preventing the unit from working. Return to the sink and see if there’s anything visible that can be now be removed with tongs or with pliers.
  • Try using a screwdriver handle or dowel rod to turn the garbage disposal blades clockwise and counterclockwise. After completing this strategy check to see if there is any loose material you can remove with tongs or pliers.
  • Now plug the unit back in, run the kitchen sink water and turn on the unit on to see if it is now working.
  • After all these steps have been taken if the garbage disposal is not working and water is starting to fill up in the sink and not drain down, it’s time to call a plumber to repair the problem.

Repairing Garbage Disposal Leaks

When your garbage disposal is leaking the first thing to do is locate the leak. From there you have to determine if you can fix the leak or if you have to replace the unit

If your unit is leaking, the first step is to find the source of the leak and then fix it.

  • Take the power plug out of the garbage disposal’s electrical outlet. Plug your sink drain so the seal is super tight. 
  • To find the leak add a handful of cups of water to the sink itself. So that you can see the leak easily add food coloring to the water.
    • If you find the leak coming through around the top of the garbage disposal unit underneath the sink itself it is indication the putty seal from the original installation has eroded or the unit has been moved, causing water to leak through. This problem can be repaired by taking off the garbage disposal unit from the sink and then resealing the flange of the unit with new sealing putting.
    • If you find water leaking from garbage disposal bottom, it is most likely because a seal inside the unit has broken or cracked. You can install a new seal in the garbage disposal unit, or you can try to fix the unit with a putty. If the crack is too big, it’s time to buy a new garbage disposal.

Repairing a Garbage Disposal Unit That’s Not Turning On

While working at your kitchen sink it’s easy to learn your garbage disposal is not working when you try grinding up some food scraps with the unit and when you flip the switch the unit does not turn on. Take the following steps to get your garbage disposal to turn on:

  • Crawl under the sink, look under the garbage disposal, find the reset button and press. Pressing this switch may clear the electrical breaker inside the unit and allow it to start working again.
  • Look down inside the unit to check to see if there are any items such as a fruit pit, rag or kitchen utensil. If you see anything in there, unplug the power cord from the unit’s electrical outlet and then use tongs or pliers to remove what you see.
  • Crawl under the sink and look for the hex bolt located at the bottom of the unit. Turn it around several times using a hex screwdriver or an Allan wrench. Doing this may loosen whatever is preventing the unit from turning on.
  • Look down inside the unit one more time to see if there is any visible debris you can remove with tongs or pliers
  • Plug the unit back in and then turn on the switch to find out if your repairs did the trick so the unit will turn back on.
  • If the power is fine, it may mean it’s time to replace the garbage disposal.

Keep your garbage disposal operating properly by putting strictly food scraps down inside it and not fruit pits, meat or chicken bones or kitchen utensils. Hard items can damage the blades, break seals and break the unit. Turn on your kitchen sink faucet and run the unit on a regular weekly basis. Doing so will free it from food scraps and keep the drain running properly. Schedule regular maintenance of the unit. When maintaining the unit, unplug it and then check to see if it’s clear of debris that will harm the unit. If there is harmful debris in the unit, remove it with a pair of steel tongs or needle nose pliers. When replacing the unit if it become necessary, hire a professional plumber to do the job the right way the first time.

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