Of all the plumbing mishaps that can happen in your kitchen, a suddenly uncooperative garbage disposal is one of the worst. Fortunately, even not-so-handy Upper Valley homeowners can often diagnose garbage disposal breakdowns—and even repair them.
Before you call Jerm’s Plumbing & Heating, let’s see if we can help you for free with these DIY tips.
What’s That Smell?
Most of the food waste you put into your garbage disposal will wash away. But over time, disposals collect residue on the underside of the rubber splash guard, on and under the impellers (“blades”), and on the walls of the unit itself.
Fortunately, disposal-based mystery smells are simple to get rid of.
- Turn off and unplug the unit.
- Using a sponge and grease-cutting dish soap, scrub both sides of the splashguard. (This may not be pleasant, but it’ll help eliminate odor!)
- Plug the disposal back in, and put two cups of ice cubes and a cup of rock salt into the drain.
- Turn on a good stream of cold water, and run the unit for a few seconds to scrape away any gunk that’s built up.
- When that’s all ground up, turn off the disposal, plug the drain, and fill your sink about halfway. Add a tiny bit of dish soap or vinegar.
- Release the drain plug, and turn on the disposal. The sudden rush of water will fill the unit completely and force out any remaining debris.
Consider grinding small pieces of citrus fruits from time to time to keep your unit smelling fresh.
What’s That Noise?
A stinky garbage disposal is one thing. A noisy one is an entirely different—and potentially more complicated—problem. The type of noise you’re hearing will help you determine what’s happening.
Silence. If you flip the garbage disposal switch and nothing happens, try pressing the reset switch on the bottom of the unit. No luck? Check the circuit breaker. Still not working? It’s likely the disposal’s motor has failed, and you’ll need to replace the unit.
Hums. If your garbage disposal is making a humming sound, it’s likely that the spinning parts of the machine are jammed. Turn off the unit right away to prevent the motor from burning out, then unplug the machine. Reach inside and see if you can free the lodged object. Be careful as you feel around; although the impellers aren’t actually sharp, whatever’s stuck in the machine might be.
If that doesn’t get the unit working again, try spinning the parts manually using the hex-wrench (located on the underside of the unit). Plug the disposal back in, press the reset switch, turn on the water, and flip the switch. If you still only have a hum, you’ll need some help.
Rattles. Most unsuspecting homeowners have been startled at least once by the clang-clang-clang of a garbage disposal trying to grind up a measuring spoon or some other non-food object. You’ll have to put your hand inside your disposal to retrieve the object, so turn it off and unplug it. Then carefully reach inside and pull out whatever’s making the rattle.
Squeals. If your garbage disposal is squealing, the bearings or motor are about to call it quits. The only fix here is to replace the unit.
Drips. For a leaking garbage disposal, check the connections at the drain lines and dishwasher. You may simply need to tighten up the bolts or replace a couple of gaskets. For unrelenting drips, give us at Jerm’s Plumbing & Heating a call.
Jerm’s Plumbing & Heating has been serving Upper Valley homeowners for years. If you don’t know an impeller from a splashguard, we’d be happy to help service your garbage disposal. Give us a call today.