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How to Repair a Broken Garbage Disposal

From slow draining water and leaks, to unusual noises and odors, use the Disposer Doctor, or the information on this page to quickly find helpful advice and solutions.

For specification sheets & installation manuals, please visit our Downloads page for the correct document.

If after studying the problem you determine that it's time to retire your old garbage disposal and replace it with a new, high-performance model that's much quieter, visit our product showroom.

Troubleshoot a Broken Garbage Disposal

Disposal does not run

Disposal makes an unusual noise

Disposal will not turn off

  • If this is a cover operated (batch feed) disposal - All InSinkErator disposers have a built-in safety device which will shut the disposer off automatically. If your batch feed disposer will not shut off, just let it run. (Do not leave disposer unattended.) After 15 or 20 minutes, the disposer will turn itself off. Your disposer will require service.

  • If your disposal is hard wired, this indicates a fault with your electrical system. Your disposal has a built-in protection device that will shut the disposal off automatically. Let the disposer run for 15 or 20 minutes without running water. (Do not leave unattended.) It will turn itself off. Contact an Electrician to service your electrical system.

  • If your disposal is connected to an outlet with a short cord, check that the disposer is plugged into the proper outlet. Some electrical outlets have one plug controlled by the switch, and the other plug stays on continuously. Move the disposer's plug to the other outlet(s) and try the switch again. If the disposer still continues to run, you have a problem in your electrical system. Contact an electrician to test and repair your electrical system.

Odor from disposal

Over time, food particles may accumulate in the grind chamber and baffle. An odor from the disposer is usually a sign of food buildup, caused by insufficient water flow during and after disposer use. To clean disposer:
  • Turn off disposer and disconnect power supply.
  • Reach through sink opening and clean underside of splash baffle and inside upper lip of grind chamber with scouring pad.
  • Place stopper in sink opening and fill sink halfway with warm water.
  • Mix a one pound box of baking soda with water. Turn disposer on and remove stopper from sink at same time to wash away loose particles.

Disposers may also be cleaned with Disposer Care®. This product is not sold by InSinkErator but is generally available in major home centers, hardware and grocery stores. For more information on Disposer Care, contact Summit Brands at 1-888-476-6688 or www.disposercare.com.

Waste remains in the disposal

  • If the disposal was grinding extremely fibrous or other hard to grind items -
    Some items are very difficult to grind in the disposal. InSinkErator does not recommend placing extremely fibrous items such as corn husks, artichoke leaves, or flower stems into the disposal. Sometimes a food waste item can take a long time to dispose of. Very elastic or fibrous items may roll around in the grinding chamber rather than shredding. You can help grind these items by adding a few bones or fruit pits to the disposal. If you encounter an item that just doesn't seem to grind up, turn off the disposer and remove the item using tongs or pliers.

  • Check to see whether it will turn freely with a service wrench. Each InSinkErator disposer is shipped with a self-service wrench. The wrench is silver colored, and shaped like a little crank, about four inches long. If it will not turn freely with a service wrench, the disposal is probably jammed. Find out how to clear a disposal jam.

  • If the grinding impellers do not move freely, find out how to free stuck impellers.

  • Make sure that the disposal is operating with proper water flow. Flowing water carries the shredded food waste down the drain line. Using too little water can lead to clogged drain lines.

Water leaks from the disposal

Water will not drain from sink or water drains too slowly.

  • If you see a whirlpool in the water when you run the disposer:

    • If you have a single-bowl sink, find out how you may be able to free the clog.

    • If you have a multiple-bowl sink, check if the water will drain freely on the non-disposer side.
      • If water will not drain freely in either side, then find out how you may be able to free the clog.
      • If water will drain freely on the non-disposal side, find out how you may be able to free the clog.

  • If you do not see a whirlpool in the water when you run the disposer: