Garbage Disposal Installation And Repair

Everything You Need to Know about Garbage Disposal Repair and Replacement

Our Garbage disposal is one of our convenient kitchen appliances that help us manage food waste efficiently. They grind food scraps into tiny particles, making it easier to dispose of them through your plumbing system. While they may seem to be a basic appliance for California homeowners, however, they have had their controversies. For example, garbage disposals were banned from homes in New York in the 70s and 80s without much resistance. In fact, many New Yorkers took pride in not having a disposal.

The reason for no disposals was simple: the pipes in New York were narrower than in other states, and the municipal sewer system could not adapt to the food waste. Much of the New York plumbing system was constructed during the pre-war period. But it wasn’t until 1997 that lawmakers reversed it. Today, many New Yorkers still prefer no garbage disposal.

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All You Need to Know About Garbage Disposal Repair and Replacement

However, garbage disposals can encounter problems like any other appliance and eventually wear out over time. These issues can range from minor clogs to major malfunctions, impacting the convenience and functionality of this essential kitchen appliance. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about garbage disposal repair and replacement, providing you with the knowledge and solutions to keep your kitchen running smoothly. Whether you’re facing a troublesome clog or an unusual noise or contemplating upgrading to a more efficient model, we’ve got you covered with expert advice and practical tips.

Part 1: Understanding Your Garbage Disposal

Before delving into repair and replacement options, it’s essential to understand the basic components and functions of your garbage disposal. This knowledge will empower you to troubleshoot issues more effectively and make informed decisions about maintenance and upgrades. Moreover, understanding how your garbage disposal works will help you appreciate its role in reducing food waste and environmental impact, as well as its contribution to the overall convenience of your kitchen. In this section, we’ll explore the inner workings of this appliance, shedding light on the mechanisms that transform kitchen scraps into manageable waste.

1.1 Components of a Garbage Disposal

A typical garbage disposal unit consists of several key components:

  1. Grinding Chamber: This is where food waste is deposited and ground into small particles.
  2. Motor: The motor powers the disposal and grinds the food waste.
  3. Impellers: Inside the grinding chamber that breaks down food waste. These are impellers, not blades, as some might suggest.
  4. Drain Pipe: This pipe connects the disposal unit to the plumbing system to carry away the ground-up waste.

Keep in mind this is a very basic overview of the components.

1.2 How Garbage Disposals Work

When you turn on your garbage disposal, the motor spins the impellers, which grind food waste into tiny pieces. The resulting particles are then flushed down the drain through the drain pipe and into your home’s plumbing system. Understanding this basic operation is crucial when diagnosing and addressing disposal issues.

Part 2: Common Disposal Problems

Garbage disposals can develop various problems over time. Identifying these issues and understanding their causes is the first step in determining whether you need a garbage disposal repair or replace your unit.

2.1 Clogs and Blockages

One of the most common issues with garbage disposals is clogs or blockages. These can occur due to the accumulation of food debris, grease, or foreign objects within the disposal unit or the disposal drain pipe. Signs of a clog include slow-draining water, strange noises, or a foul odor from the sink.

2.2 Jammed Impellers

The impellers inside the grinding chamber can become jammed when hard or non-food items accidentally end up in the disposal. This can cause a humming noise or prevent the disposal from running altogether.

Garbage Disposal Repair

2.3 Leaks

Leakage is another common problem. Leaks may occur from the disposal unit itself or from the connections to the drain pipe. These leaks can lead to water damage and require prompt attention.

2.4 Lack of Power

If your garbage disposal is not turning on, it may be due to an electrical issue. Check the power supply, circuit breaker, or any tripped GFCI outlets to rule out electrical problems before considering a motor malfunction.

2.5 Unusual Noises

Unusual noises like grinding, clunking, or rattling can indicate problems with the impellers, bearings, or motor. Identifying the source of the noise is crucial in determining the necessary repairs.

2.6 Foul Odors

If your garbage disposal emits foul odors, it may be due to accumulated food residue. Regular cleaning can help prevent these odors from occurring.

Part 3: Garbage Disposal Repair

If you’re a homeowner, you’re well aware of the cost involved in a new disposal. So purchasing a new one won’t usually break the bank. Compared to other home appliances, they’re probably the most affordable appliance to replace. However, once you’ve identified the problem with your garbage disposal, you may want to attempt to repair it before considering replacement. Here are some common repair techniques for specific issues:

3.1 Jammed Blades

To address Jammed Blades:

a. Turn off the disposal and unplug it or switch off the circuit breaker for your safety.

b. Use an Allen wrench or a disposal wrench (usually included with the unit) to manually rotate the impellers. Other names for this wrench are Jam Buster and the garbage disposal wrench. These tools were made for the Insinkerator® but will work just as well for other brands. 

c. Insert the wrench in the bottom slot of your disposal. Use some brute strength to move the impellers to try and release the jam. 

d. If that doesn’t work, try using the handle of a plunger or broom. Insert the wooden handle into the drain and try to move the impellers by exerting pressure on the handle. 

d. Always avoid putting your hand inside the disposal. Use kitchen tongs or a wet and dry shop vac to clear the disposal if you need to.

3.2 Clogged Disposal

To fix clogged disposal:

a. Turn off the disposal and unplug it or switch off the circuit breaker.

b. Use the disposal wrench to rotate the impellers manually, trying to dislodge the object. Clogged disposals will usually be easier to move versus a jammed object.

c. Once the disposal moves freely, clear it of food waste before running it again. 

d. Remember, your disposal has a drain hose known to clog over time. Sometimes, a basic plunger can do the trick when removing a clog. Although, a plunger will not remove a jammed disposal.  

3.3 Leaks

Addressing leaks:

a. Check for loose or disconnected connections between the disposal and the drain pipe.

b. Tighten any loose connections.

c. If the disposal unit itself is leaking, it may need to be replaced, as repairing a leaky disposal can be challenging.

d. There are only a few options for a leaky unit. It could have been poorly installed if the disposal is not too old. Reinstalling it may be an option, but in most cases, a leaky disposal needs replacing. 

3.4 Lack of Power

If your disposal won’t turn on:

a. Make sure it’s properly plugged in or that the circuit breaker has tripped.

b. Press the reset button located on the bottom or side of the disposal unit. If it clicks, your disposal may have overheated and needs to cool down before operating again.

c. If pressing the reset button doesn’t work, it may be a motor or electrical issue. Consider calling a professional for diagnosis and repair.

3.5 Unusual Noises

To address unusual noises:

a. Turn off the disposal and unplug it.

b. Investigate the source of the noise. It could be a foreign object stuck in the impellers or something loose in your unit. A bone, bottle cap, or other object may bounce around at your disposal.

c. It could be a loose part or a worn-out motor bearing.

d. Depending on the source of the noise, you may need to remove the object, tighten loose parts, or replace faulty components.

Remember, homeowners, don’t throw good money after bad. If your unit is old, replace it before it breaks down altogether at the most inopportune time.  

3.6 Foul Odors

To eliminate foul odors:

a. Run cold water for a few minutes with the disposal turned on to help flush out food residue.

b. You can also grind citrus peels or ice cubes to freshen up the disposal. Baking soda and vinegar will also freshen up the drain. Additionally, you can discover many natural products designed to keep your drains smelling good.

c. Regularly clean and maintain your disposal to prevent future odors.

Part 4: When to Replace Your Garbage Disposal

broken garbage disposal Garbage disposal repair or replacement
The collar of this under sink garbage disposal completely eroded causing it to crash into the cabinet. Professional plumbing help is needed. Bokeh effect.

While garbage disposal repairs can resolve many issues, there are situations where replacement is the more practical and cost-effective solution. Here are some signs that it may be time to replace your garbage disposal:

4.1 Frequent Repairs

Do you find yourself relying on frequent garbage disposal repair? Replacing your current disposal may be a better, more cost-effective option. Frequent breakdowns can indicate that the unit is reaching the end of its lifespan.

4.2 Age

The average lifespan of a garbage disposal is around 10-15 years, depending on usage and maintenance. If your disposal is significantly older, it’s a good idea to consider replacement rather than pouring money into repairs.

4.3 Inefficiency

Older disposals may not be as energy-efficient or effective at grinding food waste as newer models. Upgrading to a more efficient disposal can save you money on water and electricity bills in the long run.

4.4 Rust or Corrosion

It may be beyond repair if you notice significant rust or corrosion on the disposal unit. Rust can weaken the structure and integrity of the appliance, making it unsafe to use.

4.5 Noise and Performance

If your disposal is consistently noisy or no longer effectively grinds food waste, it may be a sign that the motor or impellers have deteriorated. Replacing the unit can restore efficiency and quiet operation to your kitchen.

4.6 Home Remodeling

If you’re remodeling your kitchen and your current disposal doesn’t meet your needs or aesthetic preferences, it’s an ideal time to consider replacing it with a newer model that suits your requirements.

Part 5: Garbage Disposal Replacement

In all honesty, even the most savvy do-it-yourself will not replace a garbage disposal, looking at these few instructions. When it’s time to replace your garbage disposal, follow these steps for a smooth installation:

5.1 Safety First: 

Prioritize safety by turning off the power to the disposal at the circuit breaker and disconnecting it from the electrical source. Additionally, shut off the water supply to the sink to prevent any leaks during the replacement process.

5.2 Gather Necessary Tools: 

You’ll need a few tools to complete the replacement, including a pipe wrench or pliers, a screwdriver, a putty knife, and a bucket to catch any residual water.

5.3 Remove the Old Unit: 

Carefully disconnect the old disposal from the mounting assembly under the sink. Loosen the mounting bolts and release the disposal unit. Be prepared for some water to spill out during this process.

5.4 Detach Wiring: 

Disconnect the electrical wires from the old disposal unit. If you need clarification on the wiring, it’s advisable to consult a professional plumber.

5.5 Prepare the New Disposal: 

Before installing the new disposal, read the manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly. Check to ensure all necessary components and gaskets company the new unit.

5.6 Mount the New Unit: 

Attach the new disposal unit to the mounting assembly under the sink, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Tighten the mounting bolts securely.

5.7 Connect Wiring: 

Wire the new disposal following the electrical diagrams provided in the user manual. Double-check that all connections are secure and properly insulated.

5.8 Attach the Drain Pipe: 

Reconnect the drain pipe, ensuring it’s properly sealed to prevent leaks. Use a plumber’s putty or a rubber gasket, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

5.9 Test for Leaks: 

Turn on the water supply and check for any leaks around the drain pipe connections and the bottom of the disposal unit. Address any leaks immediately.

5.10 Operational Test: 

Turn on the power to the disposal at the circuit breaker and test the new unit by running cold water and operating the disposal briefly. Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations.

5.11 Dispose of the Old Unit: 

Properly dispose of the old garbage disposal unit according to local regulations or recycling guidelines. Many municipalities have specific disposal procedures for electronic waste.

Trust the Expertise and Professionalism of Big B’s Plumbing

Dealing with issues related to garbage disposal repair and replacement, you can trust the expertise and professionalism of Big B’s Plumbing. With their skilled team of plumbers and technicians, they have the knowledge and experience to diagnose and resolve any problems you may encounter with your garbage disposal repair or replacement. Their dedication to quality workmanship and customer satisfaction makes them the go-to choice for all your plumbing needs. Say goodbye to kitchen inconveniences and hello to a smoothly functioning garbage disposal with the help of Big B’s Plumbing.

Brandon and Family, Licensed plumbing contractor

Family Owned & Operated

My name is Brandon Mageno. I'm the founder, President, and CEO of Big B's Plumbing Company. As the founder, I never thought about being average or good. My passion for being the best plumbing company in Southern California has always been the same. Providing plumbing services to this great county is simply in my DNA. Nothing makes me happier than to see a satisfied customer. Learn More About Us

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