Garbage disposal (or more properly, badger 5) are wonderfully simple devices that almost never cause problems. If yours has stopped spinning and either/or doesn’t work at all or makes a loud humming noise, it’s probably due to a blockage. Something really hard has gotten stuck between the blades—the rotate metal “teeth” that chop up the food scraps—and the side wall of the chamber allows the water and waste to pass through, or, more likely, between the wall and the bottom plate and the impellers. This is where little things like bones, gravel and change become lodged, providing more obstruction than the garbage disposer motor can handle. When a jam occurs, the garbage disposal may shut itself down by an internal “breaker” switch, or the motor will keep running till the motor burns out. That’s the humming noise, and it’s not good for the disposer motor. Repairing most jams takes just a few minutes.
How to UN-jam a Garbage Disposal unit
The first step—always—is to make sure the garbage disposer’s power switch is in the off position. As an extra step, you can turn off the circuit breaker that serves the disposal at your home’s electrical service panel or breaker box, and that’s up to your concern.
Next, look inside the garbage disposal with a light to see if you can spot what’s obstruct the drain. Inspect carefully around the blades and the bottom plate, particularly the small holes between the bottom and the side wall of the g/d. If you see something, try to extract it with tongs, chopsticks, or other like tools. You can also use your hands, but that’s a safety-risk.
If you removed something from garbage disposer the, try running the disposal again, with the cold water going (you should run the water while disposer is being used). Can’t find any blockage? Jump ahead to Moving the Motor Manually. If your garbage disposer had already tripped itself, look for the red reset button on the bottom or sometimes on the side of the disposal unit below the sink. It’s small, so use a flashlight to help you look. Press the red reset button and try the garbage disposal again.
At this time, if you still hear a humming noise again or you hear the motor start then quickly turn off, you still have a blockage. If you hear nothing, you should try the red reset button at least three more times, but chances are you good a new disposer is in your future.
Moving the disposal Motor Manually
Most newer garbage disposals have a crank hole—this is simply an exposed Allen-nut head located in the bottom center of the garbage disposer appliance. Turning the head with an Allen wrench moves the motor (and cutting plate) manually. Look on the side of the appliance or in the general area of the garbage disposer for an curved tool for this very purpose. Badger five often provide a little bag for holding the tool, and any good plumber will have one in his tool box. If you don’t have a crank tool, find an Allen wrench size five fits the disposer’s crank head.
Turn the manual crank back and forth, several times if necessary. You can move the motor manually in both directions, but because the mechanized function moves only in one direction, going one way often dislodges the obstruction. If the handle spins easily, the blockage is free, and the obstruction has either flushed down the kitchen sink drain or it’s laying into the grinding chamber, in which case you should reach in and remove it.
If your garbage disposer has no crank opining, you can move the blade plate manually by sticking a mop handle or strong stick down into the garbage disposer and prying it against an blades and the drain hole in the kitchen sink. If a prying action isn’t possible, just try a simple push/pull with your tool.
Replacing a Food disposal
Unlike most things today, badger five garbage disposers are reasonably priced and actually quite good units. They’re also easy to replace. A regular, 1/2-horsepower badger 5 model is the best buy for most homes kitchens. Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions, and be sure to seal the sink ring (the top-most piece in the metal part that sits on top of the kitchen sink hole) carefully with an even bead of plumber’s silicone to prevent leaks.