Possible Reasons (and Remedies) for Broken Garbage Disposal

Fixing your garbage disposal tends to be straightforward, based on our experience with them. Not all disposal systems are created equal, and it is worth noting that most fixes are easy as long as you are able to identify the problem correctly.

This blog post will shed light on the possible reasons why your garbage disposal malfunctioned and how to go about fixing it. 

Possible Reasons (and Remedies) for Broken Garbage Disposal

Investigating the issue will help you narrow down the possibilities. There can be a number of things that could have gone wrong. Here is a list of possible remedies to solve your garbage disposal malfunction.

1 – Humming or Jammed Garbage Disposal

If the disposal is making a humming or buzzing noise when you turn it on, or if it is having trouble grinding the food, you may have a jam in the garbage disposal. If you are able to easily remove the jammed food, you can go about fixing the garbage disposal. If you can see a large chunk of food or debris, try removing it before restarting the disposal. If you can’t reach it, you can take off the disposal unit from your sink or open the drain, hold it by the side and shake it gently to remove the debris.

However, if the jam is not very visible, you may need to call a plumber. This is because if the issue is something like a seized motor, the fix is not so simple.

2 – Disposal Drain Is Clogged

If the disposal drain is clogged and you are unable to remove it by shaking the unit, remove the unit from the sink and use a slim pipe wrench to remove the clog. Try pushing the pipe wrench through the disposal drain. If you have a p-trap, place the pipe wrench on the p-trap and twist it. You can also try using pliers, but they will likely be too big and too unwieldy to fit through the drain.

3 – Disposal Grinds Poorly

If your disposal grinds poorly, it is likely that the grinding blades are worn out. The blades on your disposal are made from stainless steel and can be replaced. You can replace these blades without having to replace the entire disposal unit.

4 – Leaky Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals can leak in a few places. The most common leak is the drain assembly. The drain assembly includes the flange that attaches to the sink, the rubber drain gasket, and the drain tailpiece. If your garbage disposal leaks from these areas, you can usually solve the problem by replacing them.

5 – Garbage Disposal Dead

The most common reason for dead garbage disposal is that the electrical circuit for the disposal has burned out. Look for a reset button on the disposal. If there isn’t a reset button, turn off the power switch to the disposal at the electrical panel. Look at the cord. If it is damaged, replace it with a cord matching the same voltage rating as the one that is there.

6 – The Disposal Is Not Getting Enough Power

If you notice that the discharge is not generating enough power, try to check the power cable running to the disposal. Is it damaged or frayed? If so, you will want to replace it. Make sure the wire is in good condition and that it is neither frayed nor damaged.

If the cable is fine and no foreign objects are present in the cable, you may be looking at a bigger problem. In such a case, you need to contact an emergency plumber.

7 – Sparking or Smoking Garbage Disposal

If you hear sparks or thin smoke coming from the garbage disposal, the issue is likely that the disposal is overheating. This could be caused due to an electrical issue or something like a jammed motor. A possible solution would be to make sure the unit is clean and check the motor for any loose screws that might be causing a shortage in the electric system. If there is no connection between the motor and the electrical system, you may have to repair the motor or replace it altogether.

8 – Noisy Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal is making loud banging or rattling noises, you need to troubleshoot it to locate the source of the problem. It could be a faulty switch, a motor not working properly because of a build-up of debris or food, or a faulty motor. Here are ways to troubleshoot the issue.

9 – Continuously Running Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal keeps running after you turn it on, it is likely that the disposal is not getting power from the circuit board. This can be caused by a number of things, including a faulty circuit breaker, a faulty switch, a loose or burnt wire, or an issue with the circuit board.

10 – No Sound from Garbage Disposal

If you are unable to make the garbage disposal start working, first check if it is plugged in. If it is plugged in, check for a reset button in the back of the disposal and push it. If this does not work, empty the food in the sink and pull off any parts that may be jammed. If you have not been able to find anything that was stuck, take the disposal unit to a repair shop or replace the unit.

Identifying the Problem

Zeroing in on the problem is already part of the solution. If you are unable to fix the problem using these steps, it may be time to call a plumber. If the problem seems to rest with the garbage disposal, the chances are that a new garbage disposal will be the answer. 


If you are having a problem with your garbage disposal, you should be able to easily identify the issue based on our troubleshooting guide. Once you figure out the issue, head over to your local hardware store and buy the parts, you need to fix it. If you feel that you are in over your head with your garbage disposal troubleshooting, you can contact a plumbing service.

Do you have any problems with your garbage disposal? Call a professional plumber in Burbank from Candu Plumbing and Rooter. Let us take care of your faulty garbage disposal unit today!