There’s no doubt that a broken or malfunctioning garbage disposal unit can be frustrating to deal with. Often, unit breakdowns can happen at exactly the wrong time – such as right before a dinner party you’re hosting, or during your preparations for a Thanksgiving meal. While it might be tempting to resort to a quick fix, attempting garbage disposal repair yourself can often lead to even further damage, and a more expensive repair job.
There are a number of possible ways in which your garbage disposal unit could be broken. If your garbage disposal takes an unusually long time to break down food waste, or if it gets clogged or jammed every time you use it, even when you’re only disposing with small food items, then it’s likely your unit is in need of repair. It might be that the blades need replacement, or that the whole unit needs a professional inspection and cleaning. Foul odors emanating from the unit are also a sign that the unit may need replacement. If you can hear a metallic grating noise when the unit runs, it is possible that the internal parts are moving incorrectly, which means a tune-up and motor inspection will be necessary. Electrical and plumbing-related problems are also common. If your unit won’t switch on at all, this is often a sign of an electrical malfunction. And, if your garbage disposal is leaking, then you may need a plumber to re-seal the joins in the device.
Many DIY and home maintenance websites will tell you that it is possible to repair your garbage disposal unit yourself. While small repair and maintenance tasks can indeed be carried out by homeowners, most garbage disposal repairs are best left to professional plumbers. Here’s why:
The cardinal rule of garbage disposal unit maintenance is that you NEVER put your hand down the drain into the disposal. Far too many over-confident homeowners have lost fingers this way. Even if you’ve switched the unit off, the switch may be faulty – it’s never worth the risk of losing a finger! While unplugging the unit and removing the unit housing to investigate what’s going on under the sink is a better option, there’s still the risk that you’ll cut yourself on the blades or damage the inner unit parts.
Poking around inside your disposal unit to unclog the impellers (the blades) may seem like a quick and easy way to clear out a slow-working, inefficient unit, but without specialist knowledge, there’s a good chance you’ll end up damaging the internal parts of your garbage disposal. You might also cause the parts to shift, which will then make them move incorrectly and grate against each other instead of operating smoothly. This may result in the motor burning out. A professional plumber will have the necessary expertise to ensure that your unit’s bolts are properly removed, the drain trap is correctly disconnected, and the drain pipe is safely discharged, so that any blockages or foreign objects can be removed with the proper tools and devices, and without causing harm to your unit.
There are some problems which you simply won’t be able to fix on your own. If your unit’s blades have become dulled and worn, they’ll need to be replaced by a professional. If your unit’s drain line is blocked, and the trusted technique of using baking soda and vinegar to clear it hasn’t worked, then you’re going to need a plumber to check it out. A plumber is also the best person to deal with unit leaks – whether it’s re-sealing or the replacement of the rings around the sink flange which is required, your plumber will know what to do. And if your unit’s circuit is faulty, or its switch is broken, an electrician is the right person to call: unless you have specialist electrician knowledge, you’re more likely to damage the wiring or circuit than get your unit working if you attempt to fix it by yourself. Most importantly, a professional will be able to tell you whether your garbage disposal unit simply needs to be repaired, or whether it needs to be replaced entirely.
If you’re experiencing a garbage disposal malfunction, don’t despair. Contact Art Plumbing, AC & Electric and we’ll send our expert plumbers and technicians to inspect your unit. We’ll also advise you on whether replacement is necessary, and will install your new unit for you.
For Immediate Emergency Assistance Call 1-800-475-1504