Your Definitive Guide to Garbage Disposal Repair

Last updated on November 20th, 2023 at 12:04 pm

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We all agree that garbage disposals have a lot of benefits for our homes and make our life easy, but let’s face it, they are just machines that overtime may completely stop working. Fortunately, a garbage disposal repair can be done just by yourself and no need to a professional plumber if you understand what has actually happened and caused the issues. In this article, we will provide you with all the problems that can stop your disposal unit performing well and how you can fix it too.

Understanding how and what makes your garbage disposal malfunction really helps you keep it healthy and running for several years. Below are the common problems and their solutions that your garbage disposal may face in the long run.

Garbage disposal humming or jammed

One of the common reasons behind the humming of a garbage disposal is getting some food and debris stuck in it. How to know that it is humming? Well, you should notice that there is power passing to your unit but the blades cannot turn or that it sometimes stops on its own despite not turning it off, also you will be hearing a sound that most likely the motor is being jammed or clogged. Follow these simple but effective steps to solve the issue:

  1. Turn off your garbage disposal by shutting off your electrical switch, please make sure the power is off of your unit before proceeding so you prevent any potential injuries.
  2. Next, get a 1/4 –inch Allen wrench, this tool usually comes with any garbage disposal, if you don’t have it you can get it from your local store or from Amazon, find the breaker socket which is under your unit and start turning the wrench back and forth in both directions to free the impellers.
  3. Now turn on your garbage disposal and check if it has returned functioning as it was before, if the problem remains, it may only be because your unit has tripped, try to push the reset button located at the bottom of your waste disposal and see if it is back to normal.
  4. If none of these steps helped you solve your problem, then you might consider buying a new garbage disposal, we covered a lot of models here, but before doing so, keep reading because you may find your solution in the next paragraphs.
  5. Pro tip: If you can’t find an Allen wrench or your waste disposal does not have a hex hole, then just grab a broom handle and stick it into the disposal, force it down against the impeller blades and rotate back and forth. Refer to this video below for this particular step:

Here is a video in case you didn’t fully understand a point showing you exactly how to fix a jammed or humming garbage disposal.

Garbage disposal clogged

Another major reason why garbage disposals suddenly stop working is because they are clogged. The clog of a unit usually happens easily with food like chicken bones, banana peels… or with material stuff like a small toy that your baby kid threw in your sink drain. To fix your unit clog you only need to take away those materials by plunging or using a pair of pliers, or you might even go further and remove your trap and clean it manually. This fix usually takes 2 to 3 hours and we have covered it here with an in-depth article, make sure to read it if you believe your disposal is clogged.

Garbage disposal leaking

Another major issue for your waste disposal to stop working is leaking. There are 3 common places where your unit can leak from: leaking from top, bottom and side. This issue may sound like a tough one, but it is actually just like the others explained above and you can easily repair it by yourself without the need of a professional plumber. If you are sure that your unit is leaking and want to fix it, read our full article about this problem.


Garbage disposal repair is not that hard after all, you only need some basic tools like a ¼-inch Allen wrench which should come with your unit in the first place, and following these step-by-step solutions and you should be fine. However, sometimes things are not in our favor and if you tried every solution and could not restore your unit back to normal, it could be either that you failed to fix it and may need a plumber to fix it for you, or that it’s already dead and you may need another one. If you’re considering buying a brand new unit, refer to our ultimate buying guide where we covered and compared several models.

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