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Here's Everything You Need to Know About How to Repair a Garbage Disposal

You'll know what to do whether it's not draining, jammed, or clogged.

Installing Garbage Disposal
Bill Oxford

If your garbage disposal is jammed, not draining, clogged, or leaking, you may just have to try and fix it yourself. Don't worry, it's not as hard as it sounds—the steps you take to repair your jammed garbage disposal are actually quite easy.

We spoke to Lowe’s project expert, Hunter Macfarlane, to ensure that you'll be able to fix your own disposal—follow the steps below, and you'll be good in no time.

Why is my garbage disposal not working?

Macfarlane says that garbage disposals work pretty hard in general, but when they're misused, they can break for a variety of reasons. Garbage disposals aren't designed to deal with hard material, such as bone or fibrous materials (celery, corn silk, and shrimp shells, to name a few).

What's the first step in fixing a garbage disposal?

The absolute first thing you need to do when you suspect that your garbage disposal isn't working is to test your drain out.

"Test your connections by placing the stopper into the sink drain and filling the sink with water," Lowe’s project expert, Hunter Macfarlane, says. "Check for leaks. Plug in the disposal, and turn on the power."

What do I do if something is stuck in my garbage disposal?

The most important step before checking the inside of the disposal is turning off the power to the unit by cutting it off at the circuit breaker or fuse panel. Once you've confirmed that all power is off, you'll first inspect it with a bright flashlight. If you don't see anything jammed in there, there's probably another reason it isn't working.

What else could be wrong with my garbage disposal?

If a garbage disposal overheats due to extreme use or gets jammed because of a hard object, the reset button on it will pop out and stop the disposal (most, if not all, garbage disposals have reset buttons). Allow the disposal to cool down first, then push the reset button back in. Run cool water and try it again to see if it works.

If the disposal still will not operate, it's time to hire a professional. Your garbage disposal most likely won't be repaired—it'll have to be replaced.

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