A malfunctioning garbage disposal can be frustrating, inconvenient and unhygienic. Unfortunately, it happens quite often. Most garbage disposals are used to dispose of items that they really shouldn't be and consequently they can break down. Before you call the plumber, you might want to try some troubleshooting yourself.
Always Obey the Safety Rules
When dealing with a garbage disposal, there's one thing you always need to remember: never place your hand or any other item down the disposal. Do not attempt to clear it by putting items inside of the disposal to work other items out. This is true even if the disposal is turned off, as you can't be certain that a malfunctioning garbage disposal might not turn on anyway. If the disposal is in place, do not put anything down it.
Remove the Surrounding Pipes
There are two major pipes that you should be concerned about when dealing with a garbage disposal. One pipe runs down from the disposal to the wall and the other runs from the dishwasher to the disposal. There could be an issue in either of these pipes. Remove both of them carefully with a bucket securely positioned under them to catch any falling water. Remove any blockages within these pipes and then replace them and see whether the disposal drains.
Reset the Disposal
If the disposal isn't turning on, it may not be broken. Most modern disposals have a "reset" button at the bottom. It should be red. Press this button down and hold it for ten to twenty seconds. Turn the disposal on. If the disposal makes noise, such as a clattering or crunching sound, stop it immediately -- there is something trapped in the disposal that needs to be removed. Otherwise, you should be fine.
Remove the Disposal
Is there something trapped in the disposal that is either making noise or preventing it from operating? Again, you cannot put anything down the disposal if it is connected. You will need to disconnect the pipes attached to the disposal first. From there, you can simply unscrew the disposal from under the sink -- this may seem like an intimidating process but it's actually very easy as long as you have a wrench and a screw driver. Once the disposal is completely removed from the sink and your electrical system, then you can try to remove anything lodged within.
If your garbage disposal still isn't operating properly, call a professional. There could be an issue further down your pipes that you need to address -- and these issues don't go away. A garbage disposal is attached to your main plumbing system, so a backup could potentially affect every area of your home and even lead to costly damage. For more information Buckeye Appliance Service or a similar company.