A temperamental garbage disposal can cause a kitchen to shut down. Here are a few things to try before you go out and buy a new disposal.


So if your garbage disposal is not working, listen to the sound that it is or is not making.  Do you hear a low hum or is there just silence when you flip the switch? If there is silence then it is probably a power issue. Try these steps to fix the silent disposal.

Reset button

The first thing to check is (with the power switch off) is the reset button on the bottom of disposal. The disposal reset may need to be engaged.  Find the button and push to reset.  Flip the power switch.  If this fixed the issue then all is good.

GFCI Outlet

GFCI OutletIf you still have silence, check to see if you have power at the outlet the disposal is plugged into.  This an be easily tested by plugging something else into the outlet and flipping the switch.  If you still don’t have power,  it may be the outlet is a GFCI outlet and needs to be reset. This can be completed on the outlet by pushing the reset button.

Circuit Breaker

If you still do not have power, (or if your disposal is hardwired) then the next place to look is the disposal circuit breaker in the main electrical panel.  Find the breaker for the disposal.  You can do this by finding the correct breaker on the panel legend. (If this is the case, the disposal breaker will probably be in the tripped position.) Flip the breaker to the “Off” position, then flip it back to t
he “On” position.

So what if you hear that low hum when you flip the switch?  Then something is jamming the disposal.

Find your Service Wrench

Disposal Service WrenchEvery disposal has a service wrench that comes with the disposal. Sometimes these get thrown out or can be lost in all the junk under the sink or in the junk drawer in the kitchen.If you can find it, a properly sized Allen wrench will work just fine. The process is simple.  It is very important that you only do this when the power switch is OFF.  The wrench fits in the hole at the bottom of the disposal under the sink.  Once you insert the wrench, work it back in forth until the disposal moves easily.  Remove the wrench from the hole and then flip the switch to make sure the disposal is working.

If you don’t have the tools, then you can insert a broom handle into the mouth of the disposal and, firmly but with care, try to get the disposal teeth to move.  Care should be taken when using this method to ensure you don’t dislodge the disposal from its connection to the sink.