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Garbage Disposal Not Turning On: Causes + Fixes

Garbage Disposal Not Turning On: Causes + Fixes

Garbage disposals have become essential in many of our homes. Because of that, having them suddenly not work can be quite inconvenient.

There are many methods you can use to fix your garbage disposal.

Now: after many trials, I’ve found the best ways you can take fix-it steps when your garbage disposal is stuck.

In the following sections, I’m going to talk about all the reasons why your garbage disposal not turning on and how you can easily fix it!

Reasons Why Your Garbage Disposal Isn’t Working

There are three reasons why your garbage disposal isn’t working:

No Electricity

When a problem with the power occurs, your garbage disposal will naturally stop working.

I’m going to go through all possible electrical issues later on and how to fix them.

Then, you’ll be able to differentiate whether it’s a problem with the garbage disposal’s wiring or with a switch. 

Garbage Disposal Humming Doesn’t Grind

You might get confused as to why garbage disposal isn’t working in this scenario. It’s obviously receiving power and turning on.

So why isn’t it grinding?

Well, the answer is actually quite simple. It can be either one of two reasons. 1. Clogging. Or 2. Jamming.

Broken Motor

The motor is the main device keeping your garbage disposal alive. Once it malfunctions, it’s only natural for your garbage disposal to go still!

Recognizing which problem your garbage disposal has out of this list is simple.

How to Fix Your Garbage Disposal in a Few Easy Steps

It’s time to work on fixing these issues.

1. No Electricity Reaching Your Garbage Disposal

To know whether your issue is because of electricity or not, flip on your garbage disposal switch.

If your garbage disposal doesn’t start, or if you don’t hear any sounds coming from it, then it’s most likely an issue with its power source.

In case you’re wondering how to fix this issue: all you’ll need to do is follow these simple steps:

1. Check If You Plugged the Garbage Disposal in Correctly

Check if your garbage disposal is plugged in. It’s an obvious thing to do but there are some cases where the plug isn’t plugged-in correctly.

2. Check for the Garbage Disposal Built-in Circuit Breaker Button

reset button on garbage disposal

Check the reset button.

This circuit button is red-colored and will be slightly poking out from under the disposal.

Simply press this button back in and wait to see if it pops out again or not.

If it stayed pressed in, try turning on your garbage disposal. It should now start working again normally.

3. Check Your Home’s Main Power Panel

If the issue isn’t from the built-in circuit breaker, then there’s a chance that the garbage disposal’s power circuit has been switched off in the home’s main electric panel.

In this case, switching it back on should solve the problem.

4. Garbage Disposal Wall Switch Not Working

There might be an issue with the wiring.

You’ll need to remove the wall switch’s cover— you can click here to check out some cool wall switches!

Next: check if there are any loose wirings and if there are, try to tighten them.

You can also check the wires connected to the garbage disposal.

There’s a small chance that they’ve also come loose so you can go ahead and tighten them too.

Be sure to replace any faulty wiring you find to avoid the same issues from occurring again.

2. Garbage Disposal Humming But Doesn’t Grind

This issue usually occurs when a solid, hard-to-break object accidentally falls into the drain.

You’ll often hear this referred to as a frozen garbage disposal.

You’ll be able to recognize clogged garbage disposal from its sound. Once you turn it on, you’ll hear a muted, humming sound with no grinding.

When this happens, quickly turn it off to prevent breaking down the motor.

Before you begin unclogging your garbage disposal, make sure to switch off its power from both the wall switch and the home’s power panel.

1. Check to See What Might be Clogging Your Garbage Disposal

The first step after cutting off all the power from your garbage disposal is to check inside the drain for any hard objects stuck between the flywheel.

If you notice anything jammed between the blades, use a tong or plier to reach in and remove the said object.

Once you’ve removed everything clogging the drain, turn back on the power from the home’s power panel.

Back at your garbage disposal, press the red reset button at the bottom of it.

Start running cold water down and at the same time, turn on and off the disposal to allow any left-over food pieces to wash away.

2. Use a Wrench to Dislodge the Garbage Disposal

disposal turning wrench

Another way you can clear up your clogged garbage disposal is by using a tool to fix your garbage disposal. These are basically allen wrenches that help you unclog the stuck gunk.

You can find these special wrenches here!

While the right sized allen wrench can work, the real wrenches are a littler easier to maneuver down under the appliance and hold to help you turn the blades from the outside.

Under the garbage disposal, you’ll be able to find a small hole. Place the wrench inside this hole and start turning it clockwise.

Doing this will allow the flywheel to dislodge and slowly clear up what’s jamming it.

3. Using A Slender Stick to Dislodge The Flywheel

You can also attempt to clear up the jammed flywheel by using any slender stick you can find.

Any long utensil’s handle should do the job. Stick this handle down the drain and start to use it to move the flywheel.

Slowly, the flywheel should start to dislodge and move smoothly. You can then check to see if there’s anything that obstructed its movement.

Removing the object should allow your garbage disposal to work again without any issues.

From now on, be careful when throwing any leftover food in the garbage disposal. Only throw in soft, easy-to-break leftovers to avoid clogging it.

3. Motor Issue

disposer motor malfunction

A lot of the time there’ll be a burning smell coming out of it whenever you turn it on.

When this happens, it’s, unfortunately, time to replace the motor. I know, it’s quite a hassle but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Things to Keep in Mind While Fixing a Garbage Disposal

Even though the garbage disposal’s blades aren’t sharp, you shouldn’t ever place your hand in to unclog the drainage.

You should also be careful that there aren’t any bones or utensils while throwing in any leftovers. After all, we don’t want the clogging problem to reoccur!

After continued use, you might want to start cleaning your garbage disposal.

Did you it’s actually possible to end up with gnats or even maggots in your garbage disposal if it isn’t clean? Yuck! (Here’s how to kill maggots if you ever face this horrible situation).

In any case, you can check out this small cleaning hack!

How Much Does a Garbage Disposal Cost?

It can cost from $150 to $300 on average. It can reach up to $1000 depending on which unit you buy. The lowest being a 1/3-HP unit and 2-HP unit the highest. Click here to check out garbage disposals!

Can I Install a Garbage Disposal Alone?

As long as you have a good guide and all the tools in hand, you can easily install your garbage disposal without the need for a plumber!


I know how inconvenient finding something in your house is not working. Especially garbage disposal not turning on can be really frustrating.

After you’ve read this article, you’re now hopefully able to recognize what’s wrong with your garbage disposal and fix it!

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