It can be frustrating when your garbage disposal won’t turn on, especially when you have a sink full of food waste. This article will walk you through the reasons why your garbage disposal is not turning on and how to troubleshoot it.
Reasons why your garbage disposal is not turning on
- Lack of power: The disposal may not be receiving power due to an unplugged or loose electrical connection, a tripped circuit breaker, or a blown fuse.
- Faulty wall switch: The switch on the wall may be damaged or not functioning properly.
- Faulty wiring inside the garbage disposal: The wiring in the garbage disposal can be loose, causing it not to turn on
- Jammed blades: The garbage disposal blades may be stuck due to food waste or any foreign objects.
- Overloaded: The disposal may be overloaded with too much food waste, causing it to overheat and shut off.
- Faulty motor: The motor that powers the blades may be burned out or damaged, causing the disposal to stop working.
Troubleshooting a garbage disposal that won’t turn on
Given below are the troubleshooting steps for each problem mentioned above;
Lack of power:
If the garbage disposal is not receiving power, it will not turn on. Here are some possible solutions:
- Check if the disposal is plugged in: Make sure that the garbage disposal is properly plugged into an electrical outlet. If it’s not, plug it in and try turning it on again.
- Check the circuit breaker: If the garbage disposal is plugged in but not turning on, check the circuit breaker. Look for the circuit that controls the disposal and see if it has tripped. If it has, reset the breaker and try turning the disposal on again.
- Check for a blown fuse: If the circuit breaker is not the issue, check for a blown fuse. Look for the fuse that controls the disposal and see if it has blown. If it has, replace the fuse and try turning the disposal on again.
Faulty wall switch:
Electricity flows through the wall switch to a socket under the sink and to the garbage disposal through its power cord. Any problem with any of these can prevent the garbage disposal from turning on. Here’s how to troubleshoot:
- Turn off the power to the wall switch, remove the cover plate of the switch and check for any loose connections.
- If there is no loose connection, the switch should be turned on to check if there is a current flow. A non-contact voltage tester can be used to test if there is any power in the disposal power cord.
- If there is power in the disposal’s power cord, the problem is likely with the garbage disposal itself. If there is no power in the cord, the wall socket should be checked using a multimeter.
- The problem is with the disposal’s power cord if there is power in the wall socket. If no power is coming to the socket, the wall switch should be checked using a multimeter and replaced if necessary.
- If the wall switch works fine, the problem is with the power socket under the sink, and it should be replaced.
For more details, here is a guide to troubleshooting a wall switch that is not working.
Faulty wiring in the garbage disposal
If there is electric power flowing to the garbage disposal, but it is not turning on, the wires inside the disposal may be loose. This can happen to InSinkErator garbage disposals where the power cords need to be installed by the installer. The wires are covered under a cover plate at the back of the disposal. They can be accessed by loosening the covering using a screwdriver. Here’s how to troubleshoot;
- Turn off the power supply: Before starting to check the wires, make sure that the power supply to the garbage disposal is turned off to avoid any accidents.
- Remove the cover plate: The cover plate of the garbage disposal needs to be removed to access the wiring inside. The plate can be removed using a screwdriver.
- Inspect the wires: Once the cover plate is removed, inspect the wires inside the garbage disposal. Look for any signs of fraying, burning, or melting of the insulation around the wires. Check if the wires are connected properly.
- Check the wire connections: If the wires are connected with wire nuts, check to see if they are secure and tightened properly. If there is any loose connection, tighten the wire nuts.
- Use a multimeter: If you suspect that the problem is with the wires, use a multimeter to check for continuity between the wires. Set the multimeter to the continuity mode, touch one probe to each wire, and check if there is a continuous circuit between them.
- Replace damaged wires: If you find any damaged wires or faulty connections, they need to be replaced. You can replace the damaged wires with new wires of the same gauge and type.
If food waste becomes stuck in the disposal’s blades/flywheel, it can prevent it from turning on. Here’s how to fix it:
- Turn off the power: Before attempting to unjam the disposal, turn off the power supply to the unit. This can be done by unplugging it from the power source or turning off the circuit breaker.
- Remove visible debris using pliers: Use pliers or tongs to remove any objects or debris causing blocking the blades from moving. Be careful not to put your hands inside the disposal to avoid injury.
- Use a hex wrench: Once the main blockage is removed, use a hex wrench to manually turn the blades and dislodge the jam. Look for a hex-shaped hole on the bottom of the disposal and insert the wrench into the hole. Turn the wrench back and forth to rotate the blades. Try using a broom handle if the hex wrench doesn’t turn.
- Clear the drain: Once you’ve removed any visible debris, clear the drain by running plenty of cold water. Make sure that all the debris is washed down.
- Press the reset button: Most garbage disposals have a reset button located on the bottom of the unit. Push this button inside.
- Turn on the garbage disposal: Once reset, restore power to the garbage disposal and turn it on. If it still doesn’t work, you will have to call in a professional.
Here’s a detailed guide to unjamming a stuck garbage disposal.
If the garbage disposal is overloaded with too much food waste, it may overheat and shut off. Here’s how to fix it:
- Turn off the power: Before attempting to clear any clogs, turn off the power to the disposal.
- Clear any visible debris: Use pliers or tongs to remove any visible food waste that may be stuck in the disposal’s blades.
- Let it cool down: Once you’ve cleared any visible debris, wait for the garbage disposal to cool down before attempting to turn it back on.
- Use less food waste: To prevent overloading the disposal in the future, use less food waste at a time.
If the motor that powers the blades is burned out or damaged, the disposal may not turn on. Here’s how to troubleshoot:
- Turn off the power: Before attempting to troubleshoot the motor, turn off the power to the disposal.
- Check for obstructions: Check the blades for any obstructions or debris that may be preventing the motor from turning on. Clear any visible debris using pliers or tongs.
- Check the motor’s reset button: Many garbage disposals have a reset button on the bottom of the unit. Press the button and try turning on the disposal again.
- Listen for unusual noises: If the disposal is making unusual noises or vibrations, there may be an issue with the motor. In this case, it’s best to call a professional plumber to inspect and repair the disposal.
In conclusion, a garbage disposal that won’t turn on can be caused by a variety of issues, including lack of power, a faulty switch, clogs, overloading, a jammed flywheel, or a faulty motor. Always take safety precautions when attempting to troubleshoot or repair a garbage disposal, and never put your hands down the disposal. If you’re unsure of how to fix the issue, it’s best to call a professional plumber.