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6 Reasons Your Garbage Disposal Isn’t Working

6 Reasons Your Garbage Disposal Isn’t Working

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A functional garbage disposal is important for maintaining efficiency and cleanliness in the kitchen. It streamlines waste management, making daily chores quicker and easier. However, when it stops working, it can significantly disrupt routine kitchen activities. 

Common issues like the unit humming without grinding, water leakage, slow draining, or complete non-responsiveness can interfere with kitchen upkeep. While hitting the reset button might resolve the issue with garbage disposal sometimes, more complex problems such as electrical faults, jams, clogged drain pipes, or faulty seals might require further attention.

Common Signs of a Malfunctioning Garbage Disposal

There are several indicators that suggest garbage disposal is not working as it should be. Here are the most common signs you can look out for:

  • Unusual sounds like grinding, humming, or clicking coming from the disposal indicate mechanical issues or obstructions.
  • If persistent bad smells are coming from the disposal, it could mean trapped food waste that isn’t being properly ground up or drained.
  • Water pooling under the sink or around the disposal unit points to potential seal failures or cracks in the garbage disposal.
  • If the sink drains more slowly than usual or not at all when the disposal is running, this could signal a clog or a malfunction within the disposal system.
  • A disposal that won’t turn on, despite pressing the reset button and ensuring it’s properly plugged in, could have electrical issues or a burnt-out motor.
  • If the disposal turns on but fails to effectively grind food waste, the blades might be dull, or the system could be jammed.

Reason 1: Power Issues

Power issues are a common reason why a garbage disposal might not be working. If your disposal doesn’t turn on or randomly shuts off, it’s likely due to an electrical problem. Begin by ensuring the unit is properly plugged in. If it is, check the reset button located on the disposal’s underside; it might have tripped, cutting off the power. 

Pressing this button should restore power if it’s popped out. If there’s still no response, inspect the circuit breaker for any tripped circuits connected to the disposal. Should the problem persist, examine the disposal switch or outlet for loose connections or damage. 

Do not work with power with the disposal system on. Ensure that the power is turned off when you examine the disposal system.

Tightening loose terminals or replacing faulty switches might be necessary. In cases where power sources are intact but the unit remains unresponsive, a replacement of the disposal might be required. Reach out to professional technicians to avoid complications and added costs. 

Reason 2: Jammed Impellers

Impellers in a garbage disposal can become jammed when hard objects or fibrous food waste obstruct their movement. This blockage prevents the impellers from rotating, rendering the disposal unable to grind food waste effectively. 

Preventive measures to avoid future jams include being mindful of what is disposed of—avoiding hard items like bones or fibrous materials like celery stalks. Regularly running cold water through the disposal while it’s in use can also help keep impellers clear. You can also reach out to garbage disposal cleaners for regular disposal cleaning. By taking these precautions, you can maintain the efficiency of your garbage disposal and prevent impeller jams.

Reason 3: Foreign Objects

Common foreign objects causing blockages in garbage disposals include pieces of silverware, hard food scraps, and non-food materials that accidentally fall into the drain. These items can prevent the blades from spinning, even if the motor is running, leading to clogs. 

Visually inspect the drain for any visible obstructions when the disposal system is off. If something is detected, carefully remove it using pliers or a similar tool. Preventing these blockages involves mindful disposal of waste and regular checks to ensure nothing unintended has fallen into the unit.

Reason 4: Worn-out or Faulty Parts

Over time, various parts of your disposal system, such as blades, motors, seals, etc., can wear out. The dull blades reduce the efficiency of grinding food waste. A weak motor can lead to a lack of power or complete non-operation. Seal deterioration can cause leaks. 

Visually inspect for any signs of wear or damage. If blades appear blunt, the motor is unresponsive, or if there are visible leaks, these parts might need repair or replacement. Regular maintenance checks can help you find these issues early, preventing more significant problems.

Reason 5: Overheating

When garbage disposals are used constantly, it can lead to overheating, leading the unit to shit off randomly during operation; this safety mechanism is designed to prevent damage to the disposal’s motor. If you encounter this issue, locate and press the reset button of the garbage disposal

Check your home’s electrical breaker to see if it has tripped. It’s crucial to allow your disposal adequate time to cool down before attempting to use it again. Implementing breaks between uses can help prevent overheating and extend the lifespan of your disposal.

Reason 6: Clogs in Drain Pipes

Clogs in drain pipes are a frequent issue following a garbage disposal installation, often resulting from the collected food particles, grease, and other debris over time. These blockages can restrict water flow and affect the disposal’s efficiency. Identifying clogs involves noticing slow draining water or a complete stoppage, alongside possible backflow of waste materials. Regular maintenance, including mindful disposal of waste and routine checks, can prevent such clogs.


Regular maintenance is important in ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your garbage disposal system. Neglecting this aspect can lead to frequent malfunctions, disruptions in your daily routine, and even costly repairs. 

At Pentagon Plumbing, our Las Vegas plumbers are fully equipped with the latest tools and possess the experience to handle all your plumbing needs, ensuring your satisfaction. 

Our insured professionals are committed to providing the highest level of service, leaving you free to focus on more important matters without the worry of plumbing problems. For professional plumbing assistance, contact Pentagon Plumbing today! 

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