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The top 5 garbage disposal repair tips

Posted on: May 20, 2011

Post Highlights

  • If you’re careful with your garbage disposal it will last a long time
  • Always run the disposal with cold water and never put things like fats or eggshells into it
  • If you need garbage disposal repair in MD or DC call James A. Wheat & Sons!

Is your garbage disposal grinding, humming, buzzing or simply not working when you turn it on? At James A. Wheat & Sons, we get that call all the time – and almost every time, it’s for a problem that almost anyone can fix, provided they know how to do it. In fact, there are a number of quick and easy garbage disposal repair tricks that you can try on your own!

Garbage Disposal Repair Tip 1: Your Disposal is NOT a Trash Can

The most common problem people have with their garbage disposal are clogs and jams stemming from the fact that they try to shove as much stuff into the disposal as possible. Your garbage disposal is designed to grind up small bits of soft leftover food so it doesn’t clog up in your pipes. It is NOT designed to grind up things like metal, plastic or chicken bones. In fact, you should never put the following things down your garbage disposal:

  • Bones and eggshells
  • Meat fats of any kind
  • Unpopped popcorn kernels or fruit seeds and pits
  • Expandable foods like rice
  • Fibrous vegetables like asparagus and celery
  • Obviously, any non-food products

Garbage Disposal Repair Tip 2: Buy a Garbage Disposal Repair Tool

If your garbage disposal stops working, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to call for service. Instead, head to the hardware store and pick up either a garbage disposal tool or a ¼” Allen key (both should be extremely inexpensive). Almost all garbage disposals have a hole on the bottom that allows you to hand crank it if it gets jammed. If you flip on the disposal and it does nothing but hum, it’s not necessarily broken – it just needs to be cranked!

Garbage Disposal Repair Tip 3: Sharpen your Teeth

Your garbage disposal grinds up food using two teeth that spin around, slicing through whatever you drop down there (unless it’s on the list above!). Over time, all that slicing and dicing starts to wear the teeth down, making them less effective and making it more likely that your garbage disposal will clog up. Sharpening the blades of your garbage disposal is actually really easy – if you drink coffee, run a filter full of coffee grinds through the disposal. You’re going to hear a nasty, grinding, awful noise – this means it’s working. Make sure you run it with cold water as usual and let it run until the grounds are totally eliminated.

If you prefer, you can also put a few ice cubes into the disposal and run that (dry) once a month.

Garbage Disposal Repair Tip 4: Always Use Water!

Arguably the easiest way to prevent problems with your garbage disposal (and avoid needing garbage disposal repair) is to make sure you always run the cold water when you run the garbage disposal. This lubricates the teeth, easing the grinding and pushing the ground up food through the drain holes. Just make sure you run cold water – running hot water can actually cause substances to melt off the food and coat the interior lining of your pipes.

Garbage Disposal Repair Tip 5: Reset the Disposal

Sometimes, the easiest garbage disposal repair technique you can try is just simply resetting the thing! Most garbage disposals will go into “overload” when faced with a bad jam or another motor issue. Going into overload will cause a little red “RESET” button to pop out, which allows the motor time to rest and cool down – giving you the time to clear up any issues. When this happens – if you can clear the jam – all you then need to do is simply pop the button back in. If you push the button back in and your garbage disposal does nothing but hum, try fixing it with your garbage disposal tool.

If you’ve tried all these tricks and nothing seems to be working, don’t give up hope – call the Gaithersburg garbage disposal repair experts at James A. Wheat & Sons for garbage disposal repair or replacement!