Common Garbage Disposal Problems and What to Do About Them

Common Garbage Disposal Problems and What to Do About Them

Appraisal and Home Inspection
By Alex Mikayelyan January 19, 2022

When you listen to that violent sound of the garbage disposal blades tearing through everything you push down the sink, you may think that it’s indestructible. But this is really not the case. A piece of bone lodged in the blades or a cracked pipe are quite common occurrences when you don’t pay much attention to your garbage disposal. 

So if you’ve noticed an unusual rattling noise, less efficiency, or a bad smell coming out of your garbage disposal, it’s time for a little maintenance. Grab your disposal wrench (if you have one), put on a mask with some goggles, and get to work. Or not, because in some cases you may need to call a pro. 

How to Deal With a Clogged Garbage Disposal Pipe

How to Unclog Your Garbage Disposal

How to Unclog Your Garbage Disposal

If you keep turning on the garbage disposal and all it does is make a muted hum and simply bring water back up, then there’s a good chance that it’s clogged. Kitchen shredders vary in their quality and functionality, as well as price. The American standard garbage disposal can be bought for $50 to $500, so if you happen to have one that is closer to the $50 mark, it may not be as good at handling large quantities of waste. So, if you’ve been shoveling down bones, eggshells, stringy vegetables like celery, or hard to break down waste there is a good chance your disposal is clogged.

First, unplug the disposal which should be plugged into the nearest power outlet. Make sure that it’s off by pressing the switch to see if the disposal works. Once you know it’s off, use the wrench in the little opening under the garbage disposal unit, which should be a hexagonal hole. Use the wrench to twist the disposal gear around a few times to help dislodge anything that’s stuck between the plating or gears. If it still doesn’t budge or if your garbage disposal doesn’t have one of these slots for the wrench, then use a broomstick handle or any other kind of stick that is slim enough to fit into the garbage disposal and start moving it around.

Repairing Leaky Kitchen Shredders

Easy Fixes to Basic Garbage Disposal Leaks

Easy Fixes to Basic Garbage Disposal Leaks

If you’ve noticed that some water is leaking under your garbage disposal that is definitely a defect you should fix. There are two primary reasons why the garbage disposal may be leaking. One may be that the garbage disposal mounting bolts are loose and don’t keep the hopper and shredder housing in place, which are the two big plastic covers of the entire mechanism. To tighten the garbage disposal you need to unscrew the flange, which is the metal component that connects the garbage disposal to the sink itself. Once you remove it, you should have access to the mounting screws that keep the entire garbage disposal in place. Tighten them and the crevices should close up.

Another reason your garbage disposal may be leaking is flaking plumber’s putty. This can be fixed by loosening the mounting bolts and pushing the metal flange upwards. When the flange is pushed up, it also pushes the sink stopper with it (the sink stopper is the metal sieve that keeps big pieces of food from falling down the plumbing). Once this is pushed upwards, you can put little pieces of plumbers putty down the sink, between the stopper and the flange below it. Once you have pieces of putty in there, you can pull down the flange and tighten it. 

If the leaking persists even after these steps, then it is possible that one of the garbage disposal components has been broken. In this case, it’s best to consult a professional on how to proceed. While there are some leaking garbage disposal repairs you can do yourself, some responsibilities are best left to the pros. 

When the Garbage Disposal Smells Horrible

Getting Rid of Nasty Garbage Disposal Stenches

Getting Rid of Nasty Garbage Disposal Stenches

Have you noticed foul odors every time you pass by your sink? If your garbage disposal stinks regardless of whether you’ve recently used it or not, it’s time for a little cleaning. You’ll be surprised to know that the dirtiest and most bacteria-infested thing in your home is your kitchen sponge. This is because little bits of food stay inside it and rot, becoming infested with all kinds of microscopic organisms. The same thing can happen to your garbage disposal.

When left uncleaned and unattended for a long time, your garbage disposal will have all manner of little bits of food stuck to different parts of the mechanism. The easiest answer on how to get rid of garbage disposal smells and odors is to pour a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. This mixture is a popular cleaning home remedy for a wide variety of jobs and it will surely get the job done for garbage disposals as well. 

Let the mixture do its thing for at least 30 minutes. After that, open the tap for a minute and let it wash away any remaining particles of food. The smell should be gone once the mixture has deteriorated whatever remaining food was causing it. However, if the smell persists, then it’s best to take apart the entire garbage disposal and clean each piece separately. Give them a thorough rinse with warm water and detergent and use some of that vinegar mixture to clean off the caked-up food remnants as well.

Fixing All That Noise and Racket

What to Do When Kitchen Shredder Is Too Noisy

What to Do When Kitchen Shredder Is Too Noisy

Garbage disposals are noisy by nature as you have a very powerful rotary mechanism that is strong enough to break down very tough food that you throw down the sink. However, at some point, they can get a little too noisy to the point where some homeowners are hesitant about turning it on altogether. Older garbage disposal models are very noisy, but newer ones tend to be slightly more muffled. So, if your new garbage disposal has been making more racket than it used to, this could hint at something malfunctioning.

There are many factors that lend to the noisy garbage disposal. First is that one of the parts is either stuck or wedged, keeping the mechanism from properly functioning, thus making a lot of noise. You can try unjamming the garbage disposal using the aforementioned technique with the wrench. However, if this doesn’t help and it’s still very noisy, then a part may have broken, fallen out of place, or may even be missing entirely. This can also be a warning sign, because food scraps like cherry seeds may have found their way into the drain and are damaging the blades.

For broken, misplaced, or missing parts, your best bet would be to contact a plumber. While unjamming using a garbage disposal wrench is easy, fixing and replacing the more intricate parts of the mechanism is far trickier to get right. In this case, it’s best to leave this to the pros. Luckily it’s very easy to book a professional plumber these days so you should have no problem fixing your garbage disposal in the span of a few hours.


Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan


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