How to Repair a Trash Compactor: Door Won't Open

A trash compactor.
  • 2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • N/A
What You'll Need
What You'll Need

If you need to repair a trash compactor here are a few steps that you will find useful. The steps are given in order of ease to try out the solution, as it is usually hard to know the exact problem with the compactor’s door with a door that won’t open.

Step 1 - Return Ram to the Top Position

The ram (what pushes the trash down) might not be backed up all the way causing the door to stick. Restart the machine so that the ram goes back to its top position, leaving the door free.

Step 2 - Push Door Closed While Pressing the Start Button

Try pushing in your door and hitting the start switch. This will close the door so that it will reopen properly.

Step 3 - Clear Obstructions

If the first two steps don’t work, the door might be stuck because either a bag is stuck in the drawer or there is an obstruction in the power screw (the long screw on the left side) or ram. To clear any obstructions, you need to unplug the compactor and pull it out from beneath the kitchen counter.

Lay it on its front side and remove the bottom panel with a screwdriver. Spot the gears in the back and, using gloves, back up the gears till the door is properly shut. If the gears are hard to back up, just move them around to loosen up the obstruction and pull the bags out. If the gears back up nice and easy, you will be able to open the door and pull out any bags that were stuck in the door. Plastic bags are more commonly the cause of obstructions compared with paper bags.

If the bags weren’t the problem, to begin with, check for obstructions in the ram or power screw. Clear the obstruction (usually a piece of trash) for a smooth operation later on.

Step 4 - Replace the Defective Part

If all else fails, the problem is deeper than the door being temporarily stuck or improperly closed. You might have to replace the compact switch, chain, or power screw.

In that case, once you are able to open the door of the compactor, try to spot any damage to these parts. You will have to pull out the drawer completely to see the chain and power screw. Once the problem is spotted, note down the model number and make of your compactor and visit the nearest appliance store for a replacement.

Once you have the replacement, swap the old part with the new one by using your tools. If you can’t access the part freely, get professional help.