How to reset garbage disposal ?


How to reset garbage disposal ?

Garbage disposals have become an integral part of modern kitchens, providing a convenient way to manage food waste. By grinding food scraps into small particles that can be washed away, these appliances help keep kitchens clean and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. However, to ensure their efficient operation, it’s important to understand how to properly maintain and reset them when necessary.

This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to reset garbage disposal, covering everything from understanding their basic components to detailed maintenance tips. By the end, you’ll have a thorough understanding of how to keep your disposal running smoothly and how to address common issues that may arise.

Understanding Garbage Disposals

History and Evolution of Garbage Disposals

The concept of garbage disposals dates back to 1927 when John W. Hammes, an architect from Racine, Wisconsin, invented the first device. His aim was to create a more efficient way to manage kitchen waste. Over the years, this invention has evolved significantly, incorporating advanced technology to enhance efficiency and safety.

The first commercially available garbage disposal, known as the InSinkErator, hit the market in 1940. It revolutionized kitchen waste management, providing a convenient way to dispose of food scraps. As technology advanced, so did the design and functionality of garbage disposals. Modern units are now more powerful, quieter, and equipped with safety features to prevent accidents and ensure reliable performance.

Types of Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals come in two main types, each with its own set of advantages:

  1. Continuous Feed Disposals: These are the most common type of garbage disposals. They operate as long as the switch is turned on, allowing you to add food waste continuously. This type is ideal for households that generate a lot of food waste. However, it’s essential to be cautious to avoid overloading and to ensure that only suitable waste is processed to prevent jams and damage.
  2. Batch Feed Disposals: These disposals require the disposal cover to be in place before they can be activated. This design adds a layer of safety, preventing accidental operation and reducing the risk of injury. Batch feed disposals are ideal for households with young children or for those who prioritize safety over convenience.

Key Components and Their Functions

Understanding the key components of a garbage disposal can help you diagnose issues and perform maintenance more effectively. Here are the main parts and their functions:

  • Motor: The motor is the heart of the garbage disposal. It powers the impellers, which grind up the food waste into small particles that can be washed away.
  • Impellers: These are metal flanges attached to the rotor. When the motor spins, the impellers push the food waste against the grinding chamber’s walls, breaking it down into finer particles.
  • Grinding Chamber: This is the area where the actual grinding of food waste takes place. The grinding chamber houses the impellers and has textured walls that help in breaking down the waste.
  • Reset Button: Located typically on the bottom of the unit, the reset button is a crucial safety feature. It trips to prevent the motor from overheating or burning out during overloads or malfunctions. Pressing this button restores the disposal to its normal operation.

Understanding these components will not only help you perform resets but also assist in regular maintenance and troubleshooting. Proper knowledge of how your garbage disposal works is the first step toward ensuring its longevity and reliable performance.

Common Issues Requiring a Reset

Despite their robust construction, garbage disposals can encounter several issues that necessitate a reset. Recognizing these problems early can help you address them before they escalate, maintaining the efficiency and lifespan of your disposal.


Garbage disposals can overheat if they are used continuously for extended periods or if they are overloaded with food waste. When the motor overheats, the internal safety mechanism trips the reset button to prevent further damage. Overheating can be caused by grinding large amounts of waste without sufficient pauses or by disposing of inappropriate items that strain the motor.


Jamming is one of the most common issues with garbage disposals. It occurs when hard objects, such as bones, or fibrous materials, like corn husks, get stuck between the impellers, preventing them from moving freely. This can cause the motor to hum without spinning the impellers or stop working altogether, triggering the reset button as a safety measure.

Power Interruptions

Power interruptions, such as electrical surges or outages, can disrupt the normal operation of a garbage disposal. These interruptions can cause the disposal to malfunction or stop working, requiring a manual reset to restore normal functionality. After a power interruption, it’s crucial to ensure that the disposal is reset properly to prevent further issues.

Electrical Issues

Electrical issues, such as faulty wiring or loose connections, can cause the garbage disposal to trip its reset button. Symptoms of electrical problems include the disposal not starting, stopping unexpectedly, or making unusual noises. Addressing these issues promptly is important to prevent damage to the disposal and to ensure safe operation.

Safety Precautions Before Resetting

Before attempting to reset your garbage disposal, it’s crucial to observe several safety precautions to avoid injury or further damage.

Turning Off the Power

Always ensure the garbage disposal is turned off at the switch and disconnected from its power source. This can be done by unplugging the unit or switching off the circuit breaker. This step is essential to prevent electrical shocks or accidental activation while you are working on the unit.

Using Protective Gear

Wear protective gloves to safeguard your hands from sharp objects within the disposal. Safety goggles are also recommended to protect your eyes from any debris that might be dislodged during the process. Proper protective gear ensures that you can work safely and reduces the risk of injury.

Ensuring Proper Ventilation

Perform any work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any unpleasant odors or fumes that may emanate from the disposal during maintenance. Proper ventilation also helps dissipate any potentially harmful substances that might be released during the process.

Importance of Following Manufacturer Guidelines

Always refer to the user manual for your specific model to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Each garbage disposal model may have unique features and requirements. Adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions ensures that you reset the disposal correctly and avoid voiding any warranties.

Step-by-Step Guide how to reset garbage disposal ?

Resetting a garbage disposal is a straightforward process if done correctly. Follow these steps to reset your unit:

Identifying the Reset Button

The reset button is typically a small, red or black button located on the bottom of the disposal unit. You may need a flashlight to locate it if it’s not immediately visible. Identifying the reset button is the first step in the reset process.

Step 1: Turn Off the Power

Ensure the disposal is switched off and disconnect it from the power source to avoid any electrical hazards. This step is crucial for your safety and prevents accidental activation while resetting the unit.

Step 2: Locate the Reset Button

Find the reset button on the bottom of the disposal unit. This may require you to get underneath the sink for better visibility. Once located, you can proceed with the reset process.

Step 3: Press the Reset Button

Press the reset button firmly until you hear a click. This indicates that the reset mechanism has been activated. The click sound confirms that the reset button has been successfully engaged.

Step 4: Restore Power and Test the Disposal

Reconnect the power by plugging the unit back in or turning the circuit breaker back on. Run water into the disposal and switch it on to test its operation. Ensure the disposal operates correctly without any unusual noises or issues.

Troubleshooting Common Issues During Reset

If the disposal does not start after resetting, ensure there are no jams, check that the power is properly restored, and confirm that the reset button was pressed correctly. If issues persist, further inspection or professional assistance may be needed. Troubleshooting ensures that any underlying problems are addressed promptly.

Dealing with a Jammed Garbage Disposal

Jammed garbage disposals are a common issue, often caused by food waste or foreign objects that prevent the impellers from rotating.

Identifying the Signs of a Jam

Signs of a jam include:

  • Humming Noise: The motor hums, but the impellers do not spin.
  • Silence: No sound when the disposal is turned on, indicating the motor is not running.
  • Water Backup: Water pooling in the sink and not draining properly.
  • Unresponsive Reset Button: The reset button may not resolve the issue if the disposal is jammed.

Using a Hex Key to Manually Turn the Disposal

Most garbage disposals come with a hex key (Allen wrench) that fits into a socket on the bottom of the unit.

  1. Insert the Hex Key: Insert the hex key into the socket at the bottom center of the disposal.
  2. Turn the Key: Rotate the key back and forth to manually turn the impellers and dislodge any stuck debris.
  3. Check for Movement: Ensure the impellers can spin freely after turning the key.

Removing Debris and Foreign Objects

  1. Turn Off the Power: Always ensure the disposal is off and unplugged.
  2. Use Tongs or Pliers: Reach into the disposal with tongs or pliers to remove visible debris. Never use your hands to avoid injury.
  3. Clear the Grinding Chamber: Check thoroughly for any lodged objects that could cause a jam.

Testing the Disposal After Unjamming

  1. Press the Reset Button: After clearing the jam, press the reset button to reset the disposal.
  2. Restore Power: Plug the unit back in or turn the circuit breaker back on.
  3. Test the Disposal: Run water and switch on the disposal to ensure it operates smoothly.

Electrical Issues and How to Fix Them

Electrical Issues and How to Fix Them

Electrical issues can cause your garbage disposal to malfunction or stop working entirely.

Checking the Circuit Breaker

  1. Locate the Breaker Box: Find your home’s circuit breaker box.
  2. Check the Breaker: Identify the breaker associated with your kitchen and check if it has tripped.
  3. Reset the Breaker: If tripped, reset it by switching it off and then on again.

Inspecting the Power Cord and Connections

  1. Examine the Power Cord: Check for signs of wear or damage.
  2. Secure Connections: Ensure all electrical connections are tight and secure.
  3. Replace Damaged Cord: If the power cord is damaged, replace it following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Replacing Fuses if Necessary

  1. Identify the Fuse Box: Locate your home’s fuse box.
  2. Check Fuses: Inspect the fuses for any that are blown (look for a broken filament or discolored glass).
  3. Replace Fuses: Replace any blown fuses with ones of the same rating.

When to Call a Professional Electrician

If you’re unable to resolve electrical issues on your own, it’s best to contact a licensed electrician. They can diagnose and repair wiring problems, ensuring safe and effective operation of your garbage disposal.

Maintenance Tips to Prevent Future Issues

Regular maintenance can significantly extend the life of your garbage disposal and prevent common problems.

Regular Cleaning and Deodorizing

  1. Use Baking Soda and Vinegar: Pour baking soda into the disposal, followed by vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes, then rinse with hot water.
  2. Ice Cubes and Rock Salt: Grind ice cubes and rock salt to clean the grinding chamber and remove debris.
  3. Citrus Peels: Grinding citrus peels can help deodorize and freshen your disposal.

Proper Usage Guidelines

  1. Run Cold Water: Always run cold water before, during, and after using the disposal.
  2. Gradual Feeding: Feed waste into the disposal gradually to avoid overloading.
  3. Avoid Hard and Fibrous Foods: Do not grind bones, fruit pits, or fibrous vegetables.

Avoiding Certain Types of Waste

  1. No Grease or Oil: Avoid pouring fats, oils, and grease into the disposal.
  2. No Non-Food Items: Never grind non-food items or highly fibrous materials.

Scheduling Professional Inspections and Maintenance

Regular professional inspections can help identify potential issues before they become major problems. Schedule maintenance at least once a year for optimal performance.

When to Replace Your Garbage Disposal

Knowing when to replace your garbage disposal is crucial to maintaining a functional kitchen.

Signs That a Reset or Repair Is Not Sufficient

  1. Frequent Jamming: Continuous jamming despite following maintenance tips.
  2. Persistent Leaks: Leaks that cannot be fixed with minor repairs.
  3. Age and Wear: Disposals older than 10 years that frequently malfunction.

Choosing a New Garbage Disposal

  1. Motor Power: Select a disposal with adequate motor power (1/3 HP to 1 HP) based on your needs.
  2. Noise Levels: Consider models with noise-reducing features.
  3. Size and Fit: Ensure the new unit fits under your sink and is compatible with your plumbing.

Installation Process

  1. Remove the Old Unit: Disconnect power and plumbing, then remove the old disposal.
  2. Install the New Unit: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, ensuring all connections are secure.
  3. Test the New Disposal: Run water and test the new disposal to ensure it operates correctly.

Proper Disposal of the Old Unit

Dispose of the old garbage disposal according to local regulations. Many areas have recycling programs for electronic waste, ensuring the unit is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Garbage Disposals

While garbage disposals offer convenience, there are eco-friendly alternatives that can help reduce food waste more sustainably.


Composting is an excellent way to recycle food scraps and create nutrient-rich soil for gardens. Setting up a compost bin is easy, and many municipalities offer composting programs and resources.

Using a Sink Strainer

A sink strainer can catch food particles, preventing them from entering the plumbing system and reducing the need for a garbage disposal. This simple tool can help you easily separate food waste for composting.

Benefits of Reducing Food Waste

Reducing food waste conserves resources, saves money, and benefits the environment. By minimizing the amount of food waste sent to landfills, we can decrease methane emissions and contribute to a healthier planet.

Community and Municipal Waste Programs

Many communities offer programs for recycling food waste. These programs often include curbside pickup of compostable materials, making it easy for residents to participate in sustainable waste management practices.


Maintaining a garbage disposal is essential for ensuring its longevity and efficient operation. By understanding the common issues, following safety precautions, and performing regular maintenance, you can keep your disposal running smoothly. Additionally, recognizing when to replace the unit and considering eco-friendly alternatives can contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. Always prioritize safety and seek professional help when necessary to protect both your appliance and your well-being.

Water Heater Components