2 Fixes for a Garbage Disposal Not Working + What To Do With a Clogged Garbage Disposal [Video]

By Mengning Heil

September 16, 2022

Plumbing Tips

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you are having issues with your garbage disposal not working try these two tips before calling a professional.

Click the video below or continue reading if you think you have a clogged garbage disposal.

Garbage Disposal Not Working – Identify and Fix a Jam

Before seeking to identify and fix a garbage disposal jam, make sure your garbage disposal is switched off.

Garbage Disposal Jammed Up – How To Identify a Jam

Look under your sink where your plumbing connects and find the underside of your garbage disposal. Insert an appropriately sized Allen key (aka Allen wrench or hex key) into the bottom center of your garbage disposal.

Try turning the Allen wrench both clockwise and counterclockwise. If it feels stuck, a disposal jam may be the reason your garbage disposal is not working. See below for how to fix a jam.

If you can freely turn the Allen wrench, you are probably not dealing with a jammed garbage disposal. However, you may want to check if you need to reset the disposal (we cover this scenario below as well).

How to Fix a Garbage Disposal Jammed Up

Sometimes simply turning the hex key can dislodge whatever is causing the jam. Otherwise, look down the sink drain (use a flashlight if necessary), identify the source of the jam, and simply remove it with some pliers. (Again double-check that the garbage disposal is switched off and do not stick your hand into the garbage disposal drain since the disposal blades are quite sharp).

Garbage Disposal Not Working – A Garbage Disposal Reset

If the disposal is not jammed, and yet your garbage disposal is not working, a second thing worth investigating is whether you simply need to reset the garbage disposal (the disposal’s internal circuit sometimes trips to prevent the motor from burning out).

A garbage disposal reset can be done quickly if you know what you are looking for.

Where is the reset button on a garbage disposal?

Look for a red reset button at the bottom of the garbage disposal.

where is the reset button on a garbage disposal

How to reset garbage disposal?

Attempt to press the garbage disposal reset button. If you feel the button push in or click, your garbage disposal simply needed to be reset and should work again.

Note: if you are not dealing with a jammed garbage disposal and the garbage disposal reset button did not fix anything, you (or a trusted plumber) may need to replace your garbage disposal altogether.

Unclog Clogged Garbage Disposal

One last thing to keep in mind, people often misdiagnose a clogged garbage disposal drain line! If the garbage disposal is on and water is slushing around but not draining, the sink drain is probably just backed up. In other words, your disposal may actually be working just fine, and what you really need is simply to clear a clogged sink drain.

The fix for a clogged sink drain is relatively simple. Most plumbers would just run a snake down the line to dislodge whatever is causing the backup. With the right tools, this is not a difficult fix for the average DIY’er. For aspiring DIY’ers, who want to save money but lack confidence, consider scheduling a virtual plumbing appointment with one of our master plumbers.

If you need help with drain cleaning in Jessup or the surrounding areas, connect with a trustworthy plumber in Jessup, MD by contacting us today.

Heil Plumbing is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services, including toilet installation and repair, leak detection and pipe repair, water heater repair and installation, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, water treatment, and more.