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Why Won’t My Garbage Disposal Turn On? Troubleshooting Tips and Solutions

Is your garbage disposal refusing to turn on? That’s a common and frustrating kitchen issue that many homeowners face. From power source malfunctions to blocked drain traps, the reasons can be varied.

This blog will walk you through some practical troubleshooting tips and solutions for your silent garbage disposal, making it easier for you to identify and solve the problem yourself.

Ready for a crash course in DIY waste management repair? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Troubleshooting a garbage disposal that won’t turn on involves checking the power source, resetting the button, clearing jams in the flywheel and impellers, repairing leaks, and clearing the drain trap.
  • Before attempting any repairs or troubleshooting, always turn off the power to the garbage disposal for safety.
  • It’s important to handle the garbage disposal with caution and avoid putting your hands inside while it’s running. Use tools like pliers or tongs instead.
  • If you’re unable to fix the issue yourself or if you’re uncomfortable with handling the disposal, it’s best to call a professional for assistance.

Common Problems with Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals can experience a range of issues, including power source problems, outlet malfunctions, non-responsive reset buttons, flywheel and impeller jams, leaks, and clogged drain traps.

Power source issues

Power source issues can stop your garbage disposal from working. You need to check if the plug is in its socket right. Sometimes, the power switch might be off. So, make sure it is on.

Or a blown circuit could be the cause. In this case, you would push the reset button on your disposal unit to get things back to normal. Don’t forget: a good connection to a strong power source keeps your garbage disposal running well!

Outlet problems

If your garbage disposal won’t turn on, one possible reason could be outlet problems. It’s important to check if the disposal is properly plugged into a working outlet. Sometimes, the plug might have become loose or disconnected.

If that’s the case, you can simply reinsert it and make sure it’s securely in place. Another issue could be a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse that is affecting the power supply to the disposal.

In this situation, you should locate your home’s electrical panel and check for any tripped breakers or blown fuses related to the garbage disposal circuit. If you find any, try resetting them or replacing the fuse with a new one of the same rating.

Reset button not working

If your garbage disposal’s reset button is not working, there are a few things you can try to fix the issue. First, make sure that the disposal is turned off and unplugged before attempting any repairs.

Then, locate the reset button on the bottom of the unit and press it firmly to see if that restores power. If the reset button still doesn’t work, it could be a sign of a more significant electrical problem with the disposal.

In this case, it is best to seek professional help from a plumber or technician who specializes in garbage disposal repairs.

Flywheel and impeller jams

If your garbage disposal won’t turn on, it could be due to a jam in the flywheel or impeller. This can happen when food particles or other debris get stuck. To fix this issue, you can use a hex key or screwdriver to manually rotate the flywheel and loosen any obstructions.

Remember to always disconnect power before attempting any repairs.


One possible reason why a garbage disposal won’t turn on is because it is leaking. If you notice any leaks under the sink, it’s important to address them promptly. Leaks can lead to further damage and even electrical issues if water gets into the motor.

To fix this issue, you will need to inspect the disposal for any cracks or loose connections and repair or replace any damaged parts. Taking care of leaks will help ensure that your garbage disposal functions properly and avoid potential hazards in your kitchen.

Clogged drain trap

One common problem that can prevent a garbage disposal from turning on is a clogged drain trap. When the drain trap gets clogged, water and waste can’t flow through the pipes properly, causing backups and blockages.

This can lead to the garbage disposal not working as it should.

To address a clogged drain trap, you will need to clear the obstruction in order to restore proper functioning of your garbage disposal. One way to do this is by removing the P-trap or U-bend beneath your sink and cleaning out any debris or buildup that may be causing the clog.

You can use a wrench or pliers to loosen and remove the nuts holding the trap in place. Once removed, empty any trapped material into a bucket or newspaper and clean out any gunk using water or an appropriate cleaning solution.

Troubleshooting Tips and Solutions

To troubleshoot a garbage disposal that won’t turn on, start by checking the power source and resetting the button. Clear any jams in the flywheel and impellers, repair leaks if necessary, and clear out the drain trap.

Check the power source and reset button

To troubleshoot why your garbage disposal won’t turn on, you can follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that the power source is working properly and the disposal is plugged in.
  2. Check if the reset button on the bottom or side of the disposal needs to be pressed.
  3. If the reset button doesn’t work, try flipping the circuit breaker off and then back on.
  4. Test other electrical appliances in the same outlet to confirm if there’s an outlet problem.

Clear any jams in the flywheel and impellers

If your garbage disposal is not working, it could be because there is a jam in the flywheel or impellers. Here are some steps to clear any jams:

  1. Turn off the power to the garbage disposal by unplugging it or turning off the circuit breaker.
  2. Use a flashlight to locate the small hole at the bottom of the disposal.
  3. Insert an Allen wrench or hex key into the hole and turn it back and forth to manually rotate the flywheel and free any obstructions.
  4. If you don’t have an Allen wrench, you can try using a wooden dowel or broom handle to gently push against the impellers and dislodge any debris.
  5. Once you have cleared the jam, remove any loose debris from inside the disposal using tongs or pliers.
  6. Turn on the water and then turn on the power to see if the garbage disposal is working properly.

Repair leaks

Leaking is a common problem with garbage disposals. If you notice any leaks, it’s important to address them as soon as possible. Here are some steps to repair the leaks:

  1. Turn off the power to the garbage disposal to ensure your safety.
  2. Check under the sink and identify the source of the leak. Common areas where leaks occur include connections between pipes and fittings.
  3. Tighten any loose connections using a wrench or pliers. Be careful not to overtighten, as this can cause damage.
  4. If there are cracks or damage in the disposal housing or pipes, they may need to be replaced. Consult a professional if you’re unsure how to proceed.
  5. After making repairs, turn on the water and check for any remaining leaks.
  6. Once everything is fixed and there are no more leaks, restore power to the garbage disposal.

Clear the drain trap

To fix a garbage disposal that won’t turn on, it’s important to clear the drain trap. Here are the steps you can take:

  1. Turn off the power: Before working on the disposal, make sure to turn off the power at the circuit breaker or unplug it for safety.
  2. Locate the drain trap: The drain trap is a U-shaped pipe located beneath your sink. It’s designed to catch debris and prevent it from clogging your plumbing.
  3. Place a bucket or pan below: To avoid making a mess, place a bucket or pan below the drain trap to catch any water or debris that may come out.
  4. Loosen and remove the nuts: Using pliers or an adjustable wrench, carefully loosen and remove the nuts securing the drain trap in place.
  5. Remove any blockages: Once the nut is removed, you can take out the drain trap and inspect it for any blockages such as food particles or other debris. Clean out any obstructions using a brush or by rinsing it with water.
  6. Check for clogs in connected pipes: While you have the drain trap removed, take a look at the connected pipes for any visible clogs or buildup. If you spot any clogs, use a plumber’s snake or pipe brush to clear them.
  7. Reassemble and test: After cleaning, reassemble the drain trap by tightening back the nuts securely. Once everything is back in place, restore power to your garbage disposal and test if it turns on.

Safety Considerations

Turn off the power to the garbage disposal before troubleshooting to avoid any potential electrical hazards.

Reminder to turn off power before troubleshooting

Before attempting to troubleshoot any issues with your garbage disposal, it is important to always turn off the power. This can help prevent accidents and ensure your safety. To do this, locate the circuit breaker or fuse box and switch off the power dedicated to the garbage disposal.

Once the power is turned off, you can safely proceed with troubleshooting and addressing any problems with your garbage disposal. Remember, safety should always be a priority when working with electrical appliances.

Use caution when handling the garbage disposal

When working with your garbage disposal, it’s important to be careful and take necessary precautions. Always make sure the power is turned off before handling or troubleshooting the disposal.

This will help prevent any accidents or injuries. Additionally, avoid putting your hands directly into the disposal chamber to avoid getting injured by the sharp blades. If you need to remove any debris or check for a jam, use a tool like pliers or tongs instead of your hands.

By being cautious when handling the garbage disposal, you can protect yourself from harm and ensure safe maintenance and repair procedures are followed.

When to call a professional

If you’ve tried troubleshooting your garbage disposal but still can’t get it to work, it may be time to call a professional. They have the expertise and tools needed to diagnose and fix more complex issues.

For example, if there are electrical problems with the disposal or if the motor is broken, a professional can help repair or replace these parts safely. Additionally, if you’re unsure about handling the disposal yourself or if you don’t have the necessary tools, it’s best to leave it in the hands of a professional who can ensure proper installation and repair.

Preventative Measures to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Working

To keep your garbage disposal working properly, there are a few preventative measures you can take. Avoid putting materials such as grease, fibrous foods, and eggshells down the disposal to prevent clogs and damage.

Regularly clean and maintain the disposal by running cold water while grinding ice cubes or lemon peels to freshen it up. Lastly, always use the garbage disposal according to its intended purpose and avoid overloading it with excessive food waste.

Avoid putting certain materials down the disposal

To keep your garbage disposal working properly, it’s important to avoid putting certain materials down it. These materials can cause damage or clogs in the disposal. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Grease or oil: These substances can solidify and create clogs in the disposal and pipes.
  • Fibrous foods: Foods like celery, corn husks, and onion skins can get tangled in the blades and cause jams.
  • Starchy foods: Avoid putting large quantities of potato peels, pasta, or rice down the disposal as they can expand and clog the pipes.
  • Bones or hard objects: Garbage disposals are not designed to handle bones or hard objects like fruit pits. These can damage the blades.

Regular cleaning and maintenance

Regular cleaning and maintenance is important to keep your garbage disposal working properly. Here are some tips:

  • Clean the disposal regularly by pouring a mixture of vinegar and baking soda down the drain. Let it sit for a few minutes, then flush it out with hot water.
  • Avoid putting large food scraps or bones down the disposal, as they can cause clogs or damage the blades.
  • Use citrus peels to freshen up the disposal. Simply grind them up in the disposal to eliminate any unpleasant odors.
  • Run cold water before, during, and after using the disposal to help flush away waste and prevent clogs.
  • Check for any signs of wear or damage, such as cracks in the blades or leaks under the sink. If you notice any issues, it’s best to address them promptly.

Proper use and operation

To keep your garbage disposal working properly, follow these tips:

  • Only put small amounts of food waste into the disposal at a time.
  • Use cold water while running the disposal to help solidify grease and oil.
  • Avoid putting hard objects like bones or pits into the disposal.
  • Don’t pour chemicals or harsh cleaners down the disposal.
  • Run water for a few seconds after turning off the disposal to flush out any remaining waste.


If your garbage disposal won’t turn on, there are several troubleshooting tips and solutions you can try. Check the power source and reset button, clear any jams in the flywheel and impellers, repair leaks, and clear the drain trap.

Remember to prioritize safety by turning off the power before troubleshooting and use caution when handling the garbage disposal. By taking preventative measures like avoiding certain materials and regularly cleaning and maintaining your garbage disposal, you can keep it working properly for a long time.

If all else fails, don’t hesitate to call a professional for help.


1. Why won’t my garbage disposal turn on?

Your garbage disposal might not turn on due to several reasons such as clogs, electrical problems, or motor issues.

2. How can I fix a malfunctioning garbage disposal that hums but doesn’t work?

You can troubleshoot the issue by resetting your garbage disposal or checking for any clogs and clearing them.

3. What are some common issues with garbage disposals?

Some common issues include the system not starting, humming without working, failing to shut off properly, or just not responding at all.

4. What steps could I take if my garbage disposal won’t start?

Firstly check it is well plugged in then try resetting it; If these don’t resolve the problem you might need to troubleshoot for more complex issues like a nonfunctioning motor.

5. Are there solutions for a nonfunctioning garbage disposal?

Yes! Several solutions range from simple troubleshooting tips to fixing electrical problems and even replacing parts of the device.

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