Garbage Disposal Units (GDUs) are great pieces of equipment. They give you the ability to quickly and quietly dispose of your household garbage; but what happens when they stop working? There are a number of simple things that can go wrong, and this article will list them along with how to correct these problems.
A GDU can become noisy or vibrate for two reasons:
1) The unit is jammed
2) The unit has fallen out of alignment with the drain system.
If it’s jammed, try to dislodge whatever might have caused the jamming, then turn on the switch momentarily until you hear a click. This will reset the motor assembly within the unit, hopefully fixing the problem. If this doesn’t work, your next step is to reset it manually. (Note: Resetting a GDU is not always necessary; if you think that something might be causing an issue with the blade assembly or motor, then resetting it couldn’t hurt!)
If the unit has fallen out of alignment with the drain system, there are several things you can do to correct it; some may require more than one attempt, so try them all!
· Gently tug on the power cord while simultaneously pressing down on the reset button.
· Tilt/lean/wiggle/pull up on the bottom of the GDU until you feel it drop back into place.
· Rotate the GDU by hand to ensure proper alignment.
A common complaint with GDUs is that they start to smell, or have a ‘rotten egg’ smell in particular- this could be caused by several things. Some of these are listed below:
· Garbage has gone down the drain without much water to carry it away, so when the unit rotates, it sucks air in through the splashguard instead of water which causes an unpleasant odor.
This can be resolved quite easily- run hot tap water until you feel that the drainpipe is mostly full again. If possible, try not to put garbage into your sink that doesn’t need water (such as pasta, rice, cheese) until the smell has completely dissipated.
· The unit might have too much water in it- if this is the case then it will start to be churned into what looks like a murky liquid.
Drain out some of the excess liquid before turning on the GDU again. If this doesn’t work, check to see what could possibly be causing the excess liquid to enter your garbage disposal regularly (i.e.: melted ice cubes).
You can also turn off power at your circuit breaker or fuse box for 30 seconds before turning it back on which should reset any issues with an overloaded unit.
· Your garbage has cut up food pieces that are small enough to pass through the splashguard without getting properly chopped and sent down the drain. This will also result in a smelly unit as well as poorly ground, small pieces of garbage that do not disperse easily through the system.
· While it is unlikely, if your unit does not have any water or power running to it for an extended period of time (i.e.: nobody has used it in months), then it could overheat and cause a nasty smell within the walls where it is stored.
This usually occurs with units that do not get used often enough because they are too large for a typical household’s garbage output. In this situation, you should contact your local public health department to determine what steps must be taken to prevent further damage from occurring, such as contacting a contractor to cut a hole in the wall that might be necessary to remove and clean out your unit.
Why is my garbage disposal leaking?
It is possible for a GDU to leak under normal circumstances- this could be caused by an improperly installed or constantly shifting drainpipe, or possibly if it has fallen out of alignment with the drainage system again.
To resolve this issue you will need to access your pipes underneath your kitchen sink (be sure to turn off power at the circuit breaker/fuse box first!) and inspect them for signs of shifting or damage before tightening any loose connections.
If there are no visible indications of anything wrong beneath the sink, then you can try resetting or unplugging and letting it sit idle for 30 seconds before turning it on to see if that resolves the problem.
If the leak continues after checking your drainpipe for signs of damage or improper installation, then you can try resetting power at your circuit breaker/fuse box and unplugging the GDU for 30 seconds before attempting to turn it back on.
If this doesn’t work, then there could be a defect in your unit that cannot easily be repaired without contacting a professional, and unfortunately, this would require the replacement of the entire unit itself.
How do I prevent my garbage disposal from leaking?
When assembling any part of the GDU (such as putting in an electrical connection) make sure to correctly tighten all screws so they don’t come loose over time and cause leaks.
Although not typically used for preventing leaks, you can also make sure to use cold water whenever using your GDU- hot water causes fat to go rancid (and thus be more likely to cause clogs) and it will heat up the metal which could lead to warping or other damage.
How do I know if I need a new garbage disposal unit?
If your GDU is still under warranty then you should contact whoever sold you the unit so they can send out a contractor who can come take a look at it for possible repairs depending on how much time is left on your warranty.
If there isn’t any indication of anything wrong with your unit but each time you turn it on the RPMs are noticeably slower than usual, then this usually means it is time to replace the unit itself.
How to fix the most common GDU issues yourself
1 First, turn off the power at your circuit breaker/fuse box. Then proceed to unplug your GDU from underneath your sink cabinet before moving on to trying any repairs (be sure nobody is standing on top of it when doing this!).
If there isn’t anyone around you can use a hammer or pry bar against an exposed pipe that runs into a nearby wall to stop it from moving before proceeding.
2 If you are trying to tighten any loose screws, be sure not to over-tighten them so they strip the screwdriver slot or break off inside of the unit itself (if either of these happens then you’ll need to contact a professional for replacement).
After tightening all screws, plug your GDU back into its electrical outlet under your sink cabinet and activate it- if there is no change in RPMs then unplug it again for 30 seconds before reactivating it again.
3 If this doesn’t fix the problem then check all connections beneath your sink one more time for signs of damage or shifting before contacting a professional who can determine if the issue lies with your drainpipe or within the GDU itself.
If your GDU is still under warranty, then depending on the amount of time left you may be able to get it replaced for free. If there are no clear signs of anything wrong with your GDU but each time you turn it on the RPMs are noticeably slower than usual, this usually means it is time to replace the unit itself.
Repairing a faulty GDU can be done by tightening screws or replacing defective parts (most often blades) but these repairs require very specific tools and some know-how which means most people will need to contact a professional if their unit cannot easily be repaired.