Troubleshooting Tips When Your Garbage Disposal Stops Working

Ah, the humble garbage disposal – a true unsung hero in the everyday drama of kitchen life. It’s a boon when it’s whirring along, but a curse when it suddenly quits. So, what happens when your faithful garbage disposal stops working? Well, don’t worry, we’re going to tackle this issue head-on.

You flip the switch, and… nothing. Or maybe there’s a faint hum, but the usual satisfying grind of food waste is conspicuously absent. Yep, it sounds like you’ve got a case of ‘garbage disposal not working’. Not the most technical term, but it captures the situation perfectly, don’t you think?

There could be many reasons why your garbage disposal decided to go on vacation without giving you prior notice. But before we dive into that, it’s crucial to correctly identify the issue. Don’t just huff and puff in frustration; take a moment to listen.

Is it silent as a grave? Or maybe it’s making a humming sound but isn’t spinning? Don’t worry, these are all clues and we’ll decode them together.

Most Common Reasons for a Garbage Disposal Not Working

So, why did your garbage disposal stop working? Let’s play detective and go through the usual suspects:

Power Issues: Yes, it sounds ridiculously simple, but more often than not, the problem is as straightforward as a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. So, before you go dismantling the entire unit, check the power supply.

Overheating: Your garbage disposal is a hard worker, but sometimes it can overwork itself and overheat. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s probably overheated.

Jammed Blades: Just like you’d choke on a big piece of steak, your garbage disposal can get stuck on something hard or fibrous. Peach pits, anyone?

Wiring Issues: Sometimes the internal wiring of your disposal might be the culprit. This is more common in older units.

Remember, the goal here is not to point fingers but to understand what’s going wrong.

Garbage Disposal Humming But Not Working

A humming garbage disposal that refuses to do its job is like a dog that barks but doesn’t bite. It’s frustrating, to say the least. This distinct ‘garbage disposal not working humming’ sound often means that there’s power coming into the unit, but something is jamming the blades.

But here’s a fun fact: I once found a tiny, lost Lego piece lodged in my disposal that was causing the hum. Yes, you heard it right! A Lego piece! So, it could be anything from a stray utensil to a piece of bone. The key is not to panic and never to stick your hand in there to investigate – trust me on this.

Badger Garbage Disposal Not Working

Ah, the Badger garbage disposal is a popular choice among homeowners for its reliability. But even the mighty Badger can have its off days. If you find yourself with a Badger garbage disposal not working, fear not! I’ve had my fair share of encounters with these units, and I’m here to guide you through the process.

Now, why does the Badger sometimes refuse to perform its disposal duties? It could be a similar issue to the general cases we discussed earlier, such as power problems or jammed blades. However, Badger disposals have a unique design, and their troubleshooting requires a slightly different approach. So, let’s dive into the world of Badger disposals and tackle this together.

Initial Troubleshooting Steps

Okay, we’ve laid the groundwork, and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty (metaphorically speaking, of course). It’s time for some initial troubleshooting to get your garbage disposal back on track.

Step 1: Check the Power

This is the simplest step but is often overlooked. Make sure the disposal is properly connected and that there is power flowing to it. Check for any tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses.

Step 2: Reset the Disposal

Garbage disposals often come equipped with a reset button. Find it (usually located at the bottom of the unit) and give it a firm press. Sometimes, a reset is all it takes to jolt your disposal back to life.

Step 3: Unclog the Blades

A jammed disposal is a common culprit for a non-working unit. Before we proceed, remember to turn off the power. Using a long wooden spoon or a wrench, give the blades a gentle nudge to dislodge any stuck debris. Remember, never put your hand inside the disposal!

Step 4: Clear the Drain Line 

Sometimes, the clog might be further down the drain line. Insert a drain snake or a wire coat hanger to clear any obstructions. It’s like giving your disposal a mini plumbing spa treatment!

Advanced Troubleshooting Steps

If the initial troubleshooting steps didn’t do the trick, don’t fret! We’re not giving up just yet. It’s time to pull out the big guns and tackle the more complex issues that might be causing your garbage disposal to play hard to get.

Step 5: Inspect the Wiring

For those with a knack for electrical work, this step is for you. Safely disconnect the power and remove the disposal from its mounting. Check the internal wiring connections for any loose or damaged wires. If you’re not confident in your electrical skills, it’s best to call a professional.

Step 6: Replace the Blades

Over time, the blades in your disposal can become dull or damaged. If you’ve tried everything else and your disposal still refuses to cooperate, it might be time to replace the blades. Consult your disposal’s manual or contact the manufacturer for guidance.

Step 7: Consider Professional Help

If you’ve exhausted all troubleshooting options and your garbage disposal is still giving you the silent treatment, it’s time to call in the pros. A licensed plumber or an experienced technician can diagnose and fix the issue efficiently, saving you time and frustration.

Preventive Measures for Keeping Your Garbage Disposal Working

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that holds true for your garbage disposal as well. To keep it humming along happily, here are some preventive measures you can take:

Proper Food Waste Disposal – Avoid putting large or hard items down the disposal, like bones, fruit pits, or fibrous vegetables. These can damage the blades and cause blockages.

Keep Grease and Fat Away – Grease and fat can solidify in the disposal and clog the drain. Instead, dispose of them in a separate container and throw them in the trash.

Run Cold Water – Always run cold water when using your garbage disposal. It helps solidify any food waste, allowing it to be easily broken down and flushed away.

Regular Cleaning – Give your disposal some TLC by cleaning it regularly. You can use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to remove any built-up grime and odors.

By following these preventive measures, you can keep your garbage disposal running smoothly and reduce the likelihood of encountering future problems.


We’ve embarked on a journey to unravel the mysteries of non-working garbage disposal, armed with knowledge and a touch of humor. Remember, when your garbage disposal stops working, it’s not the end of the world. By following the troubleshooting steps, knowing when to call in the professionals, and taking preventive measures, you’ll be back to grinding and disposing of food waste in no time.

Don’t let a little hiccup in your kitchen routine bring you down. Embrace the challenge, explore the solutions, and enjoy the satisfaction of a smoothly functioning garbage disposal. Your kitchen will thank you, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about in your homeownership adventure.

Joxan Williams
Home Maintenance Expert | | Website

I'm a licensed home maintenance contractor with over a decade of experience, dedicated to preserving your home's value. My expertise includes roofing, gutter installation and repair, fencing, pool maintenance, deck and patio construction, plumbing, appliance repair, lawn care, painting, garage doors, windows, sump pumps, and steam heating systems.