An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

What’s better than a quick do-it-yourself fix for a broken garbage disposal?

Not to have a broken disposal in the first place.   

I never really miss a garbage disposal when I have one.  It is only when my sink gets clogged and nothing will go down when I realize the importance of a working disposal.  A good disposal helps keep the sink free of clogs when little bits of food fall off plates, into the sink, and down the drain.  A good disposal will work, on average, for 8-15 years.  A good disposal can cost between $200-$1000 to buy new and install.  So, if you have a good disposal it makes good sense to protect your investment and keep it running well.

Taking preventative measures to keep your disposal working well is the best way to avoid costly repairs and replacements.

I used to treat my disposal like a garbage can, putting all the leftover food down the sink, no matter the size or texture.  This behavior is a sure-fire way to break your disposal quickly.  Instead:

  • Grind only small quantities of food
  • Process only soft vegetables or small scraps
  • Clean your disposal every 2-3 weeks with baking soda and vinegar


  • meats, bones, rice, pasta, cooking fats, lemon/lime/orange peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, nuts, pits, and potato peals

BUT if your disposal is broken here are 3 steps you can take before making the call to fix it.

  1. Make sure it is plugged in
  2. Press the reset button
    1. Turn off the power to the disposal


  1. Dislodge anything stuck
    1. Turn off the power to the disposal
    2. Look at the bottom of the disposal (under your sink)
    3. Look for a hex shaped socket
    4. Stick an allen wrench in the hex shaped socket and rotate the grinder back and forth to dislodge anything stuck
    5. Try a plunger

Here is a short video to demonstrate how to fix a jammed disposal



This Old House. Garbage Disposal Installation Cost Accessed 26 April 2023.,Garbage%20Disposal%20Repair,costs%20between%20%2450%20and%20%24400.

Five Reasons Your Garbage Disposal Is Not Working, 11 November 2021.,motor%3A%20The%20motor%20is%20dead.

Crail, Chauncey and Pelchen, Lexie.   Garbage Disposal Not Working?  Here are 7 solutions to try. 13 January 2022.

Warwick, Sarah.  How to Fix A Garbage Disposal: 5 common problems and the best solutions.  25 December 2021.


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