If you’ve had your garbage disposal stop working while entertaining guests or during a hurried dinner cleanup, you know how frustrating it can be. Luckily, the fix is usually as simple as pressing the garbage disposal reset switch. Before you throw in the dish towel, follow these tips for resetting a garbage disposal and getting your kitchen running smoothly again!

How to Reset a Garbage Disposal

Most garbage disposals have a built-in sensor that automatically cuts off power whenever it detects something that could damage its blades or burn out its motor. This automatic shutdown works like a GFCI outlet cuts off power when it detects a short.

Garbage disposals don’t always give up immediately; if you hear a buzz or hum, that may mean the disposal seized up trying to slice an item lodged in the grinding blades. To get the device working again, you’ll need to clear the jam and reset the garbage disposal manually.

What You’ll Need

Before you get started, we recommend grabbing:

  • Tongs or needle-nose pliers
  • An Allen wrench
  • Flashlight

If you have any reservations about attempting to clear and reset your disposal, contact your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. We’ll explain our work and help you better understand this incredibly handy device!

How to Reset Your Garbage Disposal in Four Steps

1. Cut off power to the disposal.

Never work on a disposal without completely cutting off power at the breaker. Turn off the circuit breaker connected to the disposal; note that this may also turn off power to nearby appliances and outlets, so have your flashlight handy, just in case.

2. Look for the blockage.

Use the flashlight to look deep into the disposal for any items; the most common problems are stray eating utensils, metal lids, jewelry, or bones. Use the tongs or pliers to remove the blockage.

Do not put your hand down the disposal, even if the power to the device is turned off. It’s simply not worth the risk.

3. Reset the garbage disposal.

Most disposal reset buttons are located on the bottom of the device and look very similar to the red reset button on a GFCI outlet. In some cases, the reset is located on the side of the device. Contact the manufacturer for assistance if you’re having trouble finding the disposal reset button.

Do all garbage disposals have a reset button?

Yes! If you can’t locate the button or get assistance from the manufacturer, we’ll be glad to help you!

Sometimes, the button will immediately pop back out after pressing it. This is usually a sign the disposal motor is still too hot. Wait 5-10 minutes and try again.

4. Restore power and test the disposal.

Return the breaker switch to the “on” position, run water down the disposal, and try turning the disposal on.

If the disposal sounds normal and appears to be working, you’re all set!

If the disposal is making buzzing or grinding sounds, turn it off immediately. Repeat these steps or contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for a helping hand.

How to Avoid Garbage Disposal Problems

Follow these three easy tips to prevent garbage disposal jams and the headaches they cause!

  1. Avoid putting coffee grounds, fat or grease, eggshells, metal, bones, banana peels or broccoli down the drain. Consider using a sink strainer to control what makes it down the disposal!
  2. Avoid using harsh chemicals to clean or unclog sinks. Harsh chemicals can damage the blades and other moving parts of the disposal.
  3. Only use cold water when running the disposal. Hot water may soften any fat or oil residue in the drain, which may coat and damage the disposal.

Keep Your Whole Home Running Smoothly with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing

The kitchen is the hub of the home, and your garbage disposal is a valuable spoke. Keep home life rolling with practical plumbing tips and punctual service from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. Our trained, friendly plumbers provide trustworthy maintenance and repairs that keep your family on the move. Find a location near you or call 1-877-BEN-1776 today!