How to Fix a Garbage Disposer? DIY Garbage Disposal Repair

How to remove garbage disposal

When it comes to garbage disposal problems, they all have one thing in common: they’re annoying and inconvenient.

It seems as though the only time a garbage disposal stops working, is when we need it the most. From leaky garbage disposal problems, to garbage disposal jams and continuous humming. None of it is fun, but it is fixable.

How to fix a garbage disposer

In this article, we will cover the four most common garbage disposal problems. From how to remove garbage disposal and replace with pipe, to removing a garbage disposal flange, and everything in between. (Don’t worry - the majority of these repairs are fairly easy to do on your own.)

So let's get started!

How to Repair a Leaky Garbage Disposal 

Firstly, it’s important to understand that garbage disposal leaks can occur at several different points within the unit. However, they can all be repaired with a little instruction and patience.

Fixing a leaky garbage disposal

To start, turn off the garbage disposal at its base.

From there, locate the disposal mount and remove it. This can be done by turning the mount counterclockwise from the bottom. Once the disposal has been removed from the mount, you’ll be able to see three mounting bolts. Go ahead and tighten these bolts in order to ensure they’re not causing the leak. 

Due to the fact that those three mounting bolts are generally the cause for disposal leaks, tightening them should fix the problem. However, if the disposal is still leaking, loosen the mounting bolts and push the sink flange up, doing so until it is slightly higher than the surface of the sink. Once you’ve done so, apply fresh plumber’s putty around the threshold between the sink and the flange. You should apply enough to create a safe seal, then proceed to re-attach the unit by putting the bolts back and tightening them up. Use an old rag to wipe away access putty, you can expect some to squeeze out as you are re-attaching the disposal. 

Complete the re-installation process by replacing the disposal unit on the mount. Test for leaks by turning the disposal back on. Now you know how to repair a leaky garbage disposal.

How to Repair Garbage Disposal Jam

Garbage disposal clogs, or jams, are quite common and an easy fix. 

Technically speaking, garbage disposal units can get jammed, but if water is standing in your sink and taking its sweet time to drain, it is more than likely due to the kitchen sink pipe being clogged. Sediments, scale, grease, and food remains are all materials that can cause disposal jams or pipe clogs. Unfortunately, depending on the culprit, these clogs may begin to produce a foul odor. Ideally, garbage disposals should have the ability to grind debris up enough to avoid a clog, but accidents happen.

how to fix sink disposal
To fix garbage disposal jams, turn off the disposal unit and fill the sink halfway with soapy water. Proceed to plunge the kitchen sink using a cup or plunger, for approximately one minute. If the water in the sink begins to drain, you’ve successfully cleared the clog. If the water remains, you may need to remove the P-trap under the sink, in order to get at the clog or jam with a plumber’s snake.

How to Fix Garbage Disposer that Won’t Switch On

The most common reason a garbage disposal won’t turn on, is because it is not getting power. 

That said, you’ll want to first make sure it is plugged in. It’s easy to forget that disposal units have wall outlets - and these outlets are easy to knock under the dark sink, causing the plug to come out of an outlet accidentally. If the disposal is plugged in, check the reset button at the bottom of the unit. Should the garbage disposal require resetting, the button will already be popped out. Simply press the button in, and try the garbage disposal again.

If the disposal is plugged in, and it does not appear to need a reset, the next place to check would be the circuit breaker. If the breaker is flipped, your disposer won’t be getting access to power. If that is not the problem, at this point you can assume that either the outlet is dead, the disposal needs to be replaced, or the circuit breaker is malfunctioning. You can test the outlet out by plugging something else into it. If the outlet is indeed functioning, try replacing the circuit breaker switch. If you’ve tried all of the above and are still having an issue with your garbage disposer that won’t switch on, you’ll need to replace it. Check out some of our top picks for affordable and functional garbage disposal systems.

How to Fix Garbage Disposal Humming

If you’re hearing a humming noise coming from your garbage disposal, but the unit is not working, the most likely cause is a jam.

how to fix a humming garbage disposal

The disposals rotating plate is called a “flywheel”, and when something is seriously jammed in it, you’ll hear a humming noise. You can likely fix it yourself, just remember: NEVER stick your hand down the garbage disposal. Ever. Under any circumstances.

Per usual, start by turning off and unplugging your garbage disposer. Next, take a wrench (the one that came with your disposal unit), and find the hex-shaped opening at the bottom of the disposal unit. If you no longer have the wrench that came with your garbage disposal system, you can easily purchase a replacement at your local hardware store or on Amazon. 

From there, turn the wrench clockwise - which will dislodge whatever’s clocking the flywheel. Eventually the object should dislodge, and you’ll feel the flywheel start to turn easily again. Last but not least, reset the disposal and run cold water through it, while alternating the unit on and off for about 30 seconds.

DIY garbage disposal fix


Let’s be honest: Going without a garbage disposal for any length of time, is a sure-fire way to learn to appreciate yours. 

Luckily, the most common garbage disposal problems require little-to-no experience. Generally, these issues can be addressed by yourself. That said, if you’ve tried any of the above techniques and are still having issues with your garbage disposal, you may need to call a professional to come take a look at the unit, or better yet, buy a new and improved one and remove the old disposal!

Thanks for reading! If you're on the market for a new and improved garbage disposal unit, check out our Garbage Disposal Buyers Guide for the best deals on powerful disposal units. 

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