How to Fix a Garbage Disposal

Let me just tell you – I’m no handyman. Most of my repairs are done with the aid of YouTube and the help of a trusted professional. So, when my wife said she had gotten something stuck in the garbage disposal the other day and it wasn’t working, my first thought was to think about who I knew that might be able to fix it.

Against my better judgment (and my better half), I decided to have a look underneath the sink and I started to tinker around. 


“Aaron, aren’t you going to consult the owner’s manual?” my wife side.

“Ah, no, I’ll just check things out here, maybe loosen a few screws and disconnect it.”

“I really think  you should call my brother or check the directions first before you make things worse.”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s not that tough.”

After my wife left the room rather quickly – I started to think about the matter some more. “Perhaps she’s right.” I made the wise decision to heed my wife’s warnings and proceeded to look up a few videos online about fixing a garbage disposal.

It wasn’t long before I had an answer and a fix to the problem. If I can do this – so can you.

How to reset your disposal and get ‘er working again

I’ve also made a quick video tutorial on the steps to do what I did to get my disposal unstuck and working again.

  1. Unplug er. Since these bad boys are electric, be sure you have unplugged the disposal before doing any work on it. The outlet is likely underneath your sink OR it could be hardwired into your electrical system. If that is the case, hit the breaker in your fuse box that is associated with your disposal. To ensure it is off, flick the switch a couple of times to insure it is off.
  2. Tools. You’re going to need a few tools here. An allen wrench (ours was underneath our sink – likely left by our plumber who installed it. Many use 1/4″ size), a pencil (we don’t wanna go digging in the disposal with our hands) and a plyers (to grab any impediments).
  3. Tap the reset button. Next we’re going to go underneath the disposal and look for a reset button. Ours is a InSinkErator E101, but many of them look quite similar. Often the reset button is red or (like ours) gold metallic. Tap the reset button a couple of times.
  4. Grab the allen wrench. Now we are going to get our allen wrench and insert it into the center hole at the bottom of the disposal and turn it back and forth a little bit. Depending on what is lodged in there – it may be fairly easy to turn or rather difficult. In our case, there was some broken glass – but it ended up dislodging fairly quickly.
  5. Look down the disposal for any debris. Let’s go to the top of the unit and look down the disposal from sink. Grab your pencil and (maybe a flashlight if lighting is poor) and look / dig around for any items that may be in the unit. If you find something, be sure to use the plyers to extract it.
  6. Plug in the unit. Your disposal is likely free of the debris now – and you should be good to plug the disposal back in. Go ahead and run some water and flip the switch to see if it is working again.

Hope this helps you save a few bucks by doing it yourself and for the next time your garbage disposal goes silent on you!

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