How to Repair a Trash Compactor

a trash compactor in a pull out cabinet
What You'll Need
Replacement parts
Nut driver

Trash compactors are great as they take away all the air that is in the trash and compress it down to a much smaller size. The basic mechanics are that the trash is placed in a drawer. The drawer is closed and then when the switch turns on a ram that moves downwards and forces all of the air out of the trash. When the ram moves back into place you can then remove the compressed trash. There are many things that can go wrong with a trash compactor. When the need to repair strikes, here are some things to look for.

Step 1 - Check Power and Turn it Off

The first thing to check is if the power is actually reaching the compactor. Test the power cord, electricity socket, and any wires that may be loose. Also make sure the on and off and safety switches are all working.

If all of these are working then check the motor and the top limit switch. If the power is going to all parts of the machine then turn the power off by unplugging the machine or flipping the circuit breaker and look for other problems.

Step 2 - Remove it from Cabinet

To repair the compactor you will need to remove it from underneath the counter and the adjacent cabinets.

This is easily accomplished by unscrewing it from the counter. Make sure there is a blanket prepped on the floor where you want to place it so you do not damage the floor.

Step 3 - Check the Inside

To get to the inside you will need to remove the cover plate that is found either on the top or bottom of your trash compactor. Underneath this you can find the belt or drive chain.

You will need a nut driver and socket to remove the plate. Underneath the plate will be the power screw sprockets, drive gear, and drive belt or chain.

Step 4 - Check the Tension

There are several issues that can occur with the chain with the main two being the chain is broken or is slack and does not have enough tension. To increase the tension you will need to move the motor mount away from the sprockets in order to get more tension on the chain.

First loosen the mount bolts, move the motor and tighten the mount bolts so that there is no more than one half inch of flex in the chain. You can keep on repeating this, loosening the bolts, moving the mount and tightening the bolts until the desired tension is reached.

Step 5 - Replace the Chain

To replace the chain you will need to loosen the mount bolts and push the mount towards the sprockets. This makes it much easier to mount a new chain as the chain will have some slack in it.

Place the chain over the sprockets. Depending on your compactor you may need to unbolt the power screws to achieve this. Then increase the tension accordingly as described in step 4.

Step 6 - Check it Out

Once you have the new chain in place and the appropriate tension on the chain you can put the cover plate back on and mount it under your counter. Even if you are not having any problems you want to check out a few things at least once a year to ensure that the chain tension and the belt are in good working order.