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Garbage Disposal Reset Button: A Quick Troubleshooting Guide

Garbage disposal units are essential kitchen appliances, designed to grind and dispose of food waste effectively. Over time, these units may experience jams or overloads, causing them to stop working. One crucial and often overlooked component of a garbage disposal system is the reset button, which plays a key role in bringing the unit back to its proper functioning state.

When a garbage disposal is jammed or overloaded, its built-in safety feature will often trip the reset button, causing the system to shut down. This prevents the motor from burning out due to excessive stress. The reset button can be easily found on the bottom or lower back side of the unit and is typically red in color. Pressing the reset button can resolve many common issues and restore your garbage disposal’s performance.

Key Takeaways

  • Garbage disposal units can jam or overload, requiring the use of the reset button.
  • The reset button is a safety feature that shuts down the system to prevent motor damage.
  • Pressing the reset button can resolve common issues and restore the unit’s performance.

Understanding Garbage Disposal Units

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Garbage disposals are essential kitchen appliances that help to grind and dispose of food waste. They are installed beneath the kitchen sink and connected to the drain. Understanding the key components of a garbage disposal and the role of the reset button can help keep it functioning and prevent issues or breakdowns.

Key Parts of a Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal unit mainly consists of a motor, flywheel, switch, impeller, and overload protector. The motor powers the device while the flywheel is responsible for rotating the impellers. The switch is used to control the operation of the disposal unit. Here is a list of other crucial components:

  • Impellers: These are the small, metal blades that grind up food waste. They are connected to the flywheel and spin at high speeds to break down the waste.
  • Overload Protector: This safety feature prevents the motor from overheating or overloading. If the disposal is jammed or overloaded, the overload protector will trip and turn off the device to protect it from damage.

Role of the Reset Button

The reset button is a crucial part of the garbage disposal unit and is often red in color. It is typically located on the underside of the unit and is part of the overload protector system. When the garbage disposal experiences an overload or overheats, the reset button will trip to disconnect power to the motor. This helps protect both the motor and the user from potential hazards.

To reset the garbage disposal, first, turn off the switch that controls the unit. Then, locate the red reset button on the underside of the unit. Gently press the reset button until it stays in. Once the reset button is pressed, switch on the garbage disposal, and it should resume normal operation.

Knowing the key components of a garbage disposal and understanding the role of the red reset button can help maintain the appliance’s efficiency and durability, saving time and money in the long run.

Why Garbage Disposal Units Jam

Garbage disposal units are essential in most modern kitchens, as they help dispose of food waste efficiently. However, they can sometimes jam due to various reasons. In this section, we will discuss the common causes of garbage disposal jams and how to prevent them.

Common Causes of Garbage Disposal Jam

Obstructions: One of the primary causes of garbage disposal jams is the presence of solid obstructions in the grinding chamber, such as bones, nuts, and fruit pits, which hinder the movement of the shredding plate. These items should be avoided or removed from the disposal unit to prevent jams.

Greasy materials: Grease and fatty substances can accumulate inside your garbage disposal unit, causing it to slow down or jam. It is highly recommended to limit the amount of greasy substances going down the garbage disposal by wiping excess grease off dishes and disposing of it properly.

Fibrous foods: Certain fibrous foods like celery, artichokes, or onion skins can wrap around the grinding elements of your garbage disposal unit, causing it to jam. Make sure to cut these food items into smaller pieces before disposing of them in the unit, or avoid putting them in altogether.

Coffee grounds: Although they seem harmless, coffee grounds can accumulate in the disposal unit and cause a jam. It is best to dispose of them separately, for example in a compost bin.

Eggshells: Crushed eggshells can create tiny particles that stick together and clog the disposal unit, leading to jams. To reduce the risk, make sure to run cold water when disposing of eggshells and give them enough time to wash through the unit completely.

Pasta and rice: Cooked or uncooked pasta and rice can expand in water, causing them to clog the garbage disposal unit. Avoid disposing of pasta and rice in the unit or, if necessary, use small amounts and run plenty of cold water during disposal.

Regular maintenance and proper use of the garbage disposal unit can help prevent jams and ensure its efficient operation. Keep in mind the types of substances that can cause jams and avoid disposing of them in the unit to maintain its optimal performance.

How to Identify a Jammed or Overloaded Garbage Disposal

When it comes to maintaining a well-functioning garbage disposal system, it is crucial to recognize the signs of an overloaded or jammed unit. In this section, we’ll discuss how to identify these issues and provide guidance on addressing them effectively.

Signs of an Overloaded Garbage Disposal

An overloaded garbage disposal typically occurs when the unit is running but has too much waste in it, leading to a halted grinding process or overheating. Common signs that your garbage disposal is overloaded are:

  • Humming: If you turn on the disposal but only hear a hum with no grinding action, it’s likely that the unit is jammed or overloaded. The motor might be running, but the grinding functionality has been disrupted 1.
  • No Power: Overheating can cause the garbage disposal’s automatic shutoff function to activate. If your unit appears to be completely unresponsive when you try to turn it on, it might have overheated due to an overload 2.
  • Frequent Resets: If you find yourself consistently pressing the reset button on your garbage disposal, this might indicate that the unit is repeatedly becoming overloaded or jammed 3.

To avoid these problems and ensure your garbage disposal operates efficiently, it’s essential to be mindful of the amount of waste you’re putting into the unit and to refrain from disposing of items that are not suitable for the appliance, such as fibrous vegetables, bones, and grease.

Resetting Your Garbage Disposal

How to Find the Reset Button

Locating the reset button on your garbage disposal is essential when it comes to troubleshooting issues. The reset button, usually a small red button, can be found on the underside of most garbage disposal units, sometimes on the front-facing side. For some models like Moen garbage disposals, the reset button is a bit inside, requiring a thin tool, such as a screwdriver, to press it properly. Using a flashlight is recommended for better visibility when locating the reset button on your garbage disposal unit.

How to Use the Reset Button

Before attempting to reset your garbage disposal, it’s crucial to ensure your safety. Begin by turning off the power to the garbage disposal unit at the electrical panel. This prevents any accidents while working on the device.

The reset button acts as a safety feature, similar to a circuit breaker on an electrical panel. When pressed, it restores the flow of electric power to the disposal. To reset the unit, press the reset button firmly until it clicks or stays in place. After resetting the garbage disposal, turn the power back on at the electrical panel.

With power restored, run water into the sink and turn on the garbage disposal briefly, flipping the switch on and off. This action should spin the flywheel, dislodge any obstructions, and rinse the debris down the drain, ensuring the smooth operation of your garbage disposal.

How to Clear a Garbage Disposal Obstruction

Tools for Clearing Obstruction

Clearing a garbage disposal obstruction requires a few essential tools, such as an offset wrench or a 1/4-inch Allen wrench, which can be used to manually rotate the disposal’s shaft later in the process. Besides, a flashlight is useful for illuminating dark areas under the sink and identifying the obstructions. Additionally, using tongs and pliers can help in handling foreign objects, ensuring safety while performing the task.

Removing Obstructions Safely

Before attempting to remove the obstruction, always prioritize safety. First, disconnect the garbage disposal from its power source to avoid accidental activation. Then, use the flashlight to inspect for any visible obstructions in the grinding chamber. Employ tongs or pliers to safely grip and remove any foreign objects stuck inside the disposal.

In some cases, turning the disposal’s shaft manually might be required to ease the obstruction. Locate the hex socket or shaft hole under the disposal unit, then insert the offset wrench or Allen wrench and gently rotate it clockwise and counterclockwise. This process can help dislodge jammed materials, allowing for easier removal.

Checking for Remaining Obstructions

After successfully removing the visible obstructions, it’s crucial to check if there are any remaining blockages. Reconnect the disposal to its power source. With the water running, test the functionality of the garbage disposal. If it still seems jammed or obstructed, repeat the steps of removing obstructions safely.

Remember to maintain a clear, confident, and knowledgeable approach while handling garbage disposal obstructions. Performing regular checks and dealing with obstructions as soon as possible can prevent further issues and ensure your garbage disposal remains in excellent condition.

After Resetting Your Garbage Disposal

Proper Garbage Disposal Use to Prevent Future Jams

After resetting your garbage disposal, it’s important to practice proper use in order to prevent future jams. First and foremost, always run cold water when using the garbage disposal. Cold water helps solidify any grease or fats, making it easier for the disposal to break them down.

Be mindful of what goes into the garbage disposal. Avoid putting fibrous or stringy food items, such as celery, corn husks, or onion skins, as they can easily wrap around the blades and cause jams. Additionally, do not dispose of hard materials like bones or fruit pits.

To keep your garbage disposal clean and functioning smoothly, consider doing regular maintenance. You can grind small pieces of citrus fruits or ice cubes to clean and freshen the disposal. Also, using a small brush to manually scrub the interior can help remove any built-up debris.

When to Replace a Garbage Disposal

Though regular maintenance and proper use can extend the life of your garbage disposal, there will come a time when replacement is necessary. If your garbage disposal is frequently jammed or requires constant resetting, it may be a sign that the unit is nearing the end of its lifespan.

Another indicator that your garbage disposal may need replacement is a persistent foul odor. If cleaning methods do not eliminate the smell, it could be a sign of a more serious issue.

Finally, if your garbage disposal is leaking or making unusual noises, it might be time for a replacement. It’s recommended to consult with the manufacturer or a professional plumber to determine the best course of action. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when considering replacement options.

Professional Help for Garbage Disposal Issues

When to Call a Professional Plumber

A garbage disposal problem that persists even after resetting the unit and checking for obstructions might require the assistance of a professional plumber. Some situations that warrant a service call include disruptive noises, water leaks, and failure to grind waste properly. If the reset button isn’t working or you suspect an issue with the electrical circuit, it’s best to contact a professional to avoid safety hazards and further damage.

How a Professional Fixes a Garbage Disposal

A professional plumber will first assess the problem to determine the most suitable course of action. They may check the wall switch, wall outlet, and circuit breaker to ensure there is power reaching the appliance. If necessary, a plumber can manually reset the motor using a hex key or address any potential issues with the electrical panel. For more complicated issues, they might need to repair or replace specific parts within the unit, such as the grinding chamber, impellers, or flywheel. In some cases, replacing the entire garbage disposal may be the most cost-effective solution.

Dealing with Drains and Electrical Circuits

Plumbers are skilled in handling both drain and electrical repair tasks. They can diagnose and fix clogged or slow-draining sinks that might be related to garbage disposal issues. Additionally, a professional can inspect and repair the electrical circuit connecting the disposal to the wall outlet or circuit breaker. If a circuit has tripped or the wall switch is faulty, the plumber should be able to rectify the problem.

In short, calling a professional plumber for a garbage disposal issue ensures a thorough diagnosis and effective repair. They can provide a range of services, from unclogging drains to repairing electrical circuits, which contributes to the safe and efficient operation of your appliance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the reset button located on my garbage disposal?

The reset button on a garbage disposal is typically found on the underside of the unit. It is a small red button, often used as an overload protector or safety feature source.

How often should I press the reset button on the garbage disposal?

There is no specific frequency for pressing the reset button on your garbage disposal. It should be used as needed in situations like overheating, clogging, or when you notice the disposal is not working correctly. It is essential to address these underlying issues to avoid using the reset button frequently.

What happens when the reset button on a garbage disposal doesn’t work?

If the reset button on your garbage disposal does not work, it might indicate a more serious issue, such as faulty wiring or a motor problem. In this case, it is best to consult with a professional plumber or appliance technician for further inspection and assistance.

How do I know if my garbage disposal needs to be reset?

Your garbage disposal may need to be reset if it stops working suddenly, becomes overly warm, or experiences a jam due to clogging. If the unit stops working altogether or makes a humming sound without turning on, try pressing the reset button to see if that resolves the issue.

Is there any difference between various brands of garbage disposals when it comes to resetting?

Most garbage disposals, regardless of the brand, come equipped with a reset button or overload protector. The exact location and design of the button might vary slightly, but the process of resetting should be relatively consistent across different models and brands.

What could be the issue if my garbage disposal is humming but not working after pressing the reset button?

If your garbage disposal is humming but not working after pressing the reset button, it might indicate a clogged or jammed impeller. In this case, first, make sure to unplug the device or switch off the circuit breaker to ensure your safety. Then, use a garbage disposal wrench or a wooden broom handle to try and manually rotate the impeller, which might help dislodge the blockage. If the problem persists, it is best to call a professional plumber for assistance.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.thekitchn.com/garbage-disposal-reset-button-23325255
  2. https://www.insider.com/guides/home/garbage-disposal-reset-button
  3. https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-reset-a-garbage-disposal-5223533
author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age

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