There are a few reasons why your garbage disposal may not be working. In this article, our experts at Atlantis Plumbing will go through each one to help you identify and possibly fix the problem.

First and Foremost – NEVER, EVER put your hand down a disposal.

The 3 Main Reasons Your Garbage Disposal May Not Work Properly

  • Power problem
  • Something is stuck in the disposal
  • Disposal drains slowly

Power Problems

You’ve heard the old adage, “When in doubt, reboot.” Well, the same holds true for any appliance or piece of equipment that is plugged in. You can check that power is getting to the garbage disposal several ways.

  • Check your breaker box to make sure that the breaker to the garbage disposal has not been tripped.
  • Check the plug from the garbage disposal – while shuffling items under the sink it’s easy enough to unplug that.
  • Press the reset button on your garbage disposal.

Instructions On How To Reset Your Garbage Disposal

  1. Turn your disposal switch to “Off”
  2. Find and press the red button on your garbage disposal. It should not pop back out. If it does, wait 10-15 minutes and then try pressing it again.
  3. Turn on your kitchen faucet using cold water.
  4. Turn your disposal switch to “On”.

A Clog In The Disposal

One of the most common calls we get is to unclog a garbage disposal. It may be that an item like a spoon or a small toy accidentally fell down the disposal and is now clogging the blades, but most often, we find that it’s food that should not be put in the disposal to begin with.

An indication that something is jamming your disposal unit is if you turn it on and hear a humming noise.

Here’s a list of the items we recommend to AVOID putting in your disposal unit.

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Banana Peels
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Bones
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Coconuts
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Corn Husks
  • Couscous
  • Cucumber Peels
  • Eggshells
  • Flour of any kind
  • Grease and Fats
  • Grits
  • Lettuce
  • Meats
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Onion Skins
  • Pasta
  • Pineapple Rinds
  • Pits and Seeds
  • Popcorn (popped or unpopped)
  • Potato Peels
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon Rinds

Read More about what NOT to put in your garbage disposal.

Disposal Drains Slowly

If you notice that your disposal is draining very slowly and water is backing up into your sink, the problem is most often a clog of some sort. The clog is not so terrible that it stops the disposal from working but it’s bad enough that it’s slowing down the amount of debris and water that should be going through the unit.

The clog could be on the blades or in the drain pipe. If you are handy enough you can dis-assemble the unit and check the blades. If you do not find anything you can then use a sink auger and attempt to unclog the drain pipe.

Of course – if you do not feel confident in doing this we strongly recommend you contact a professional plumber like the ones at Atlantis Plumbing. You can call us 24 hours a day / 7 days a week at 770-505-8570.