Garbage disposals are fairly simple designs that usually function without a problem for many years. Unfortunately, they are still vulnerable to wear and malfunctions. You can handle some of the repairs on your own, but there may be times when you need to call in a professional. Here are a few common issues and tips to deal with kitchen disposals.

Jammed Disposal

If you turn the disposal on and hear the motor humming but the blades aren't grinding anything, it may mean that the unit is jammed. Sometimes it may run fine for a minute and then stop, which typically means that something you just put into the disposal has jammed the blades.

Don't run the disposal when it's jammed—it can burn out the motor. Some of the most common sources of garbage disposal jams include things like bones, fruit pits, or fibers from stringy foods. The first step to fixing the problem is to turn off the power to the disposal. That way, you don't risk injury while you're working.

Once the disposal is powered down, you can address the jam. If you put something into the disposal that you shouldn't have, whether it's a banana peel or a rubber band, you'll need to get it out. Don't ever reach your hands into a garbage disposal to retrieve something, though. Instead, use a pair of tongs to grasp and remove anything that's in there.

If that doesn't free the jam, you can try resetting the disposal. Look at the disposal unit under the sink. There should be a hole at the base of the unit that's shaped like a hex wrench. Insert a hex wrench into that hole to free the blades. Move the wrench back and forth in both directions a couple of times to loosen and free the blades.

Leaky Disposal

If your disposal is leaking underneath the sink, the first thing you need to do is determine the source of the leak. It could be a crack in the case or something simpler, like a loose connection. Examine the disposal for signs of damage. If you can see a crack in the case, you'll need to have the unit replaced.

If it's leaking around a gasket, it may mean that you need to replace the gasket. You can usually loosen the connections around the gasket easily to insert a new one. Loosen the bolt or screw, then separate the two pieces around the gasket. Pull the gasket off and discard. If there is residue left behind, wipe the surface of the pipe opening with a clean, dry cloth, then place a new gasket in position. Reassemble the disposal, tightening the bolts to put everything back together.

These are two common problems that you may encounter with your garbage disposal. If you're unable to resolve your disposal issue with these tips, you should call a technician, like one from Gold Seal Plumbing, who can help you troubleshoot and repair it.