How to Repair a Garbage Disposal that Won't Turn On

What You'll Need
Hex wrench
Flash light
Broom handle

It's good have an idea of how to repair garbage disposal units. This knowledge will come in handy should the device malfunction at some point. When the appliance works efficiently, it contributes to the smooth flow of kitchen operations, which you may take for granted most of the time. You only realize how vital the appliance is when it fails to run. When your garbage disposal won’t turn on yet it hums, it is likely that the flywheel is stuck. This is usually caused when an object gets stuck in the flywheel or between an impeller and shredder ring. It is also possible that the circuit breaker may have tripped in which case the unit won’t turn on. Below is a guide on how to repair in both cases.

Step 1 – Disconnect Power

Before you undertake any work on your garbage disposal, it is vital that you turn off the power supply. Locate the electrical service panel and turn off the power. You should also unplug the power cord that is connected to the appliance. This will eliminate the risk of an electrical shock.

Step 2 – Use a Hex Wrench

You’ll find a hole shaped like a hexagon underneath the garbage disposal. If the area underneath the sink is dark, use a flashlight to find the hole. Fit the wrench inside the hole. Rotate the wrench 360 degrees clockwise, then 360 degrees counterclockwise. This should cause the flywheel to turn with ease. Should movement still prove to be difficult, repeat the action a few more times until the flywheel is able to turn with ease. Allow some tap water to run down the disposal and turn on the appliance. The flywheel should spin freely and the object that was stuck should be carried away by the water down the drain.

Step 3 – Pry with a Wooden Broom

You may also want to use the handle of a wooden broom to release the stuck component. Insert the handle into the hopper from the top of the appliance. Carefully position the handle against an impeller. Apply some pressure to try and dislodge the stuck component. Once the component is freed, the flywheel should be able to turn freely.

Step 4 – A Tripped Circuit Breaker

A power overload can cause the circuit breaker to trip. When this happens your garbage disposal won’t turn on. The circuit breaker senses the extra heat and trips to disconnect power flow. This helps to prevent a fire outbreak. Hit the “Reset” button on the electrical service panel. Plug the cord into the power outlet and turn on the garbage disposal. If the problem was a tripped circuit, the appliance should restart and give you service.


  • Don’t insert your hand into the garbage disposal hopper. Should the machine begin to run, you’ll end up with serious injuries.
  • It is best not to allow large or hard items get into your garbage disposal as these items increase the likelihood of a jam. Additionally, it helps to keep grease out of the disposal as it tends to make the impellers dull which lowers efficiency.