Troubleshooting a Trash Compactor: Door Won't Open

Troubleshooting a trash compactor can help you to quickly identify and solve a common number of problems. There are many reasons why the door or tray on a trash compactor will not open. Logically working through a set of steps to find and fix the problem is quick and easy.

Electrical Outlet

Many trash compactors have electrical components which allow automatic opening of the door from the touch of a button. Plug something else into the electrical outlet and check that there is no problem with the outlet itself. If the outlet seems to be working, change the fuse in the plug of the trash compactor. Also, check the circuit breaker if you are using one. Press the reset button on the circuit breaker as it may be halting electricity from flowing through the circuit.

Build Ups

A common cause of a faulty trash compactor door will be a build up of dirt or debris. This can easily work its way into areas that make it difficult for the door to open. Keep the frame of the door on your trash compactor clean so you can always open it on command. You can unscrew the front plate of the trash compactor in order to look for dirt and trash build-up around the door frame.


Another reason why your trash compactor door may not open is the fact a switch or button may be faulty. If the door button on a trash compactor is broken, it will not open. These buttons commonly appear on more expensive models of trash compactors. You can check this by pressing the button in and out. It should click when you press it. If you get no response from the door or the button gets stuck, you will have to replace it. This can be done by removing the top and front parts of the trash compactor to gain access to the interior components.

Draw Damage

The majority of trash compactors will have a door that houses a small draw. On some of these models, the door will be linked to the draw which slides out as the door is opened. Remove a side panel of the trash compactor to get a better look at the sliding mechanism inside. Check for large cracks and visible signs of damage. If there is a large amount of friction being created on the sliding parts, the draw will not slide and the door will not open.

Check Ram

You must check to see if the ram is unobstructed and is able to move freely before you try to open the door. The ram is the working part that crushes the trash inside a compactor. On most models, the door will not open while the ram is halfway down or stuck. Check by removing the side panel of the trash compactor and looking at the ram itself. Remove any rubbish and debris you can see and ease the ram back to the top position. The door should now open freely.