How do I know my garbage disposal needs to be replaced?

garbage disposal

Signs of garbage disposal issues

With the holidays coming up fast, you want to make sure you have all the ingredients for those wonderful meals and treats. The ham and turkey, the cakes, cookies, and cheeseballs and more, there is baking and cooking to be done! The last thing you have on your mind is the garbage disposal failing. 

With all your holiday preparations, take the time now to make sure you don’t have a garbage disposal failure and get it repaired or replaced. How do I know if my garbage disposal is bad? While the garbage disposal is an invention that has become an essential fixture in kitchens today, they do wear out. When you think about how much it is used on a daily basis, not to mention the overtime during holiday baking and cooking, it isn’t surprising that they do, right? 

 If your garbage disposal is showing any of these four signs, it is time to shop for a replacement: 

  • Not Functioning: Now, this could be a simple power reset button on the bottom of the garbage disposal, or breaker switch in the electrical panel. Make sure the unit is plugged in and press the reset button. If it still isn’t working, check the breaker box and flip the breaker if it is off. 

If you hear the motor trying to turn but the blades aren’t moving, with the unit unplugged, shine a flashlight inside the drain and see if anything is stopping the blades. It could be a dish rag wrapped up, or paper, a utensil, or even food that didn’t break up and wash away.  If there isn’t anything stopping it up and all of these steps doesn’t get it started, it is time to replace the unit. 

  • Foul Odors Lingering: Combine food waste with moisture, and you’ll get foul odors if the garbage disposal fails to grind it up and wash it on down. The foods that are the worse in causing this are oily, sticky foods byproducts like chicken skin, grease, vegetable skins and stringy foods that get wrapped around the blades, creating clogs. You can help keep this from happening as much by running hot water with degrease soap in the drain with a couple of cups of ice cubes. It gets the stray food removed and sharpens the blades too. 
  • Draining Slow: A garbage disposal can sound like it doing okay, but it takes forever for the water and food waste to drain. This can be caused by either a clog in the drain line or in the garbage disposal itself. Try plunging the drain with a basic household plunger and see if that helps. Keep repeating the process several times if necessary.  If plunging doesn’t work, you should look for a replacement unit. 
  • Water Leaking: Depending on the problem, there are several places a garbage disposal failure can start leaking. The leaks from the top are the easiest to handle with simple resealing the flange. Leaks from the bottom are usually a sign of garbage disposal failure. 

When should a garbage disposal be replaced?

If your garbage disposal is exhibiting any of the things we just covered, and you’ve tried the recommended steps, then you need to replace the unit, sooner than later. Especially with the holidays coming up, you’ll be glad you did! 

Why do garbage disposals stop working?

If you’re having garbage disposal failure by not turning on, then it has lost power. Three things to do are: 

  • Make sure the unit is plugged in
  • Push the reset button on the bottom of  the unit
  • Check the circuit breaker

The other common reasons for garbage disposal failing is a clog. If you’re hearing a mute humming sound, it could be a clog. The unit is getting power but because there is a clog, the blades can’t spend.  You can remove the clog, press the rest button, and try to use the unit. If it still won’t work, then you need a replacement unit. 

What causes garbage disposal leaks, and can I install a garbage disposal myself?

The following are three scenarios of a garbage disposal failing with leaking issues.  There are also recommendations of what you can do yourself before deciding the unit needs to be replaced. 

  • If your garbage disposal is leaking from the top, it is probably the piece that connects the garbage disposal and drain, the flange. The flange is installed with plumber’s putty, and you can re-putty the flange should stop the leaking from the top. Additionally, check the brackets under the sink that attach the unit to the sink. 
  • If your garbage disposal is leaking from the side, it could be coming from the drainpipe that connects to the dishwasher and garbage disposal. The drainpipe may have come lose and can be reattached will typically fix this garbage disposal failure. Check the drain hose as well and all brackets that attach the unit. 
  • A garbage disposal failure with a leaking bottom could indicate the unit has simply reached its end of life. There could be internal damage as well. In either of these cases, it is best to replace the unit. 

How can you tell your garbage disposal motor is burnt out? 

One immediate thing that will indicate the motor to your garbage disposal has burned out would be a burning smell. Other things that can indicate the motor is burnt out could be one of the following: 

  • Needs Frequent Resets
  • Leaking From Bottom 
  • A Persistent Odor
  • Grind Time Extended
  • Unusual Sounds
  • Clogs Frequently
  • No Power with Reset Button and Circuit Breaker
garbage disposal under sink

Who can fix a garbage disposal?

If you have a garbage disposal failing, a professional plumber would be the first person to call, or a small appliance shop.  Since it has to connect to water, the plumber would be the best choice. 

How long does a garbage disposal usually last? On average, with normal usage, a garbage disposal should last no less than eight years. A quality brand unit could last up to 15 years. Can you live without a garbage disposal? Yes, with some changes to your daily routine, there are other ways to dispose of your food waste, one would be to start a compost pile. Call 317-677-4918 today for your garbage disposal repair in Indianapolis, IN.