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Install & Replace

Garbage Disposal Problems

I was washing dishes last night and went to use our in-sink garbage disposal.  The blade inside did not spin, but the disposal did make the classic 'buzzing' sound.  After turing it off, I looked down inside and saw nothing preventing the blades fronm spinning.  So I turned it back on, and heard a click and the buzzing sound stopped, even though the switch was on.  Then a weird smell came out the bottom of my sink.  I assume the motor burnt out somehow, but I wanted to check to make sure it wasn't a simple fix before I replaced something bigger.


I also checked the circuit breaker as well to make sure it hadn't flipped, but it hadn't.


Thanks in advance!

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Posted 2012-09-17T18:36:32+0000  by squids squids

Hi Squids,


From Your description of the problem, it sounds like the bearings have failed in your disposal.


The motor is trying to turn the grinding blades, but the bearings are bound up and the motor cannot overcome the drag. The result is a burnt out motor. The solution is replacing the disposal.


One of the problems with premature disposal failure is the constant flow of dishwasher detergent draining through

the disposal.


Dishwasher detergent is very corrosive and will quickly deteriorate the the metal in the cutting chamber and the bearings of your disposal shortening the disposers life.


When customers ask me about this problem, I recommend running the dishwasher drain through the opposite side of the sink and not through the disposal.


A special disposer “y” adaptor is available for the application. You can purchase it at your local Home Depot.


In my personal experience, this has resulted in a much longer disposer life.


My disposers used to last about three years, now with the dishwasher draining through the opposite side of the sink my current disposal has lasted eight years and running.


I hope this insight is useful to you.





Posted 2012-09-17T19:27:08+0000  by Mike_HD_OC

Hi Mike - thanks for the reply!


As I live in an apartment complex, I simply alerted the landlord who is coming to replace the unit.  Just for curiosity's sake, if the failed bearings are the case, would the disposal work one day and fail the next? Or would it be a more gradual failure?  The unit seemed to be working fine the day before, which is why I assumed something small got stuck somewhere and caused the problem.  Thanks again for the quick response!

Posted 2012-09-17T19:48:23+0000  by squids

Hi Squids,


The failure can be sudden, the motor will spin the grinder until the bearings just refuse to let it turn anymore.


It can work ok on Monday and Tuesday it will be dead. It's happened to me!


Good thing the landlord is on top of it!


Take Care!



Posted 2012-09-17T21:11:47+0000  by Mike_HD_OC

Hey squids.


Yes, this is a classic case of bearing failure.  It actually is a gradual process, but it's almost impossible to notice because the ever increasing bearing noise is masked by a normal but very noisy disposal operation. 


+1  Mike.


I never put the 2+2 together combining how corrosive dishwasher water is with disposal failure before.  I know that even good quality stainless steel flatware will eventually pit and corrode if not hand washed, so even a quality disposal would be vulnerable.  Thanks for the tip on this one!

Dishwasher Y.jpg




Posted 2012-09-18T13:59:32+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI

Got home from work yesterday, and the work order from the mechanic simply said 'fixed' disposal.  When I looked underneath the sink, it didn't look as if they had replaced the whole unit, but had ineed just 'fixed' it.  Is there an easy way to replaced theabove suggested part, or perhaps did something else go wrong?  Again, just curious.  Thanks for the helpful answers! :smileyhappy:

Posted 2012-09-18T18:00:05+0000  by squids

Hey squids.


It's great that the disposer was "fixed".


The only fix I can think of was that the mechanic pressed the reset button on the bottom of the unit, which tripped when the disposer locked up.  It may have just been jammed, and once freed could be reset.  Once jammed the overload breaker inside the unit would have tripped, necessitating the need to reset it by pushing that red button.  Even though it looked like there was nothing inside the disposer, there may have been something that jammed it, or the bearings really did seize.  In either case the mechanic could have used a "JamBuster" to force the motor to turn, hit the reset button and called it "fixed".


The horrible smell you noticed was the motor overheating when you heard that buzzing sound as it tried to start but could not.  There is no easy way to replace either the motor or its bearings.  Usually if the disposer can be spun but won't start it is just replaced.  For now, it will just keep on working until it eventually fails.  Maybe it still has a few years of life left though.  That's the best explanation I have.





Posted 2012-09-18T18:39:57+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI



Thanks for answering my needless questions.  Let's hope it's acutally 'fixed'. :smileyindifferent:

Posted 2012-09-18T19:37:16+0000  by squids
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