How to Reset a Garbage Disposal

In the average U.S. home, the garbage disposal is the most abused home appliance. Most homeowners do not realize that these units are intended to handle only a minimal amount of waste that is rinsed from utensils and plates before they are placed in the dishwasher. This is why most plumbers have a high volume of calls involving garbage disposal repair.

Large quantities of debris and food waste will occasionally overwhelm a garbage disposal, which can result in a shutdown. Common causes of shutdowns include a problem with the disposal itself, clogs, overheating, or being run for an extended period of time.

If your garbage disposal’s overload protector has turned itself on, you can observe the button, which is usually red in color, poking out about a quarter of an inch to half an inch. This means that you will need to manually reset your garbage disposal.

Here’s how to do so in five simple steps:

1. First and foremost, make sure that your garbage disposal‚Äôs ‚ÄúON‚ÄĚ switch is turned OFF. An unexpected trip to the emergency room will not help anyone.

2. Use a small flashlight to look down inside of your garbage disposal. Look for any obvious clogs or foreign objects that might be preventing your garbage disposal from operating. If you see any such items, then you can use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to carefully remove them. Likewise, your garbage disposal may have a hex key jam that you can use to remove food clogs.

3. Now, gently press the red button inward in order to reset your garbage disposal. If it does not remain retracted, wait 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

4. Turn on a steady stream of cold water from your faucet. Flip the unit’s switch into the ON position. The disposal should now be running properly.

5. If the faucet’s reset button refuses to remain retracted, or if the unit requires you to frequently reset the overload protector, then your garbage disposal may need a component replaced or servicing. You will need to either contact the manufacturer for further instructions or a professional plumber.

The garbage disposal is also one of the home’s most underappreciated appliances. Make sure to treat yours well and have it serviced regularly. Doing so will ensure that you both enjoy a long, mutually beneficial relationship.


Justin Curtis

I am not a professional plumber, but I do feel like I am pretty handy :). I would love to hear your comments about this post or others. Thanks for reading!

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