Ask Anthony: 3 Steps for Troubleshooting a Broken Garbage Disposal

anthony gilardi, home improvement advice

This week, Anthony provides three easy troubleshooting steps to try when your garbage disposal isn't working — you know, BEFORE you call a plumber.

Get FREE home repair advice from HGTV's Anthony Gilardi here on CafeMom every other week. Ask Anthony your home improvement or home repair question TODAY in the comments below!


Hello, CafeMoms,

HGTV's Anthony Gilardi here helping you empower yourself around your home. I've found over the last few years that most problems around the home are universal. No mater where I am in the country, I consistently get asked similar questions to common problems around the home.

One of the most common problems I've found: WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY GARBAGE DISPOSAL BREAKS???

Everybody's first reaction: CALL A PLUMBER.

Well, as much as I respect plumbers and admire them for their hard work, my job is to help my "Anthony Apprentices" empower themselves. There will be a time to call a plumber...BUT BEFORE YOU DO... there are THREE STEPS to take when tackling your garbage disposal before you call a plumber and spend $200 to $300. Taking these steps could possibly save you a little embarrassment as well.


  1. After confirming that the power is OFF, carefully check to see if something is stuck inside the disposal that can be easily removed.
  2. If you don't find anything in Step #1, there might be something lodged in the disposal that cannot be removed by hand. Check for this next. Underneath the garbage disposal, directly in the center, you'll find an access hole. Using an ALLEN WRENCH or HEX WRENCH (this tool usually comes with a new garbage disposal; however, if you do not have one, I suggest purchasing an Allen or Hex wrench set to keep in your toolbox), insert the wrench in the hole and turn both clockwise and counterclockwise. This will raise and lower the mechanism and if something is lodged, it will probably dislodge.
  3. If Step #2 doesn't help, you might have a short circuit. Plug the power cord back in and make sure the power is ON (at this point, keep your hands out of the sink and drain). At the bottom of the garbage disposal (underneath), there is a reset button. It's a small red (or white) button located just to the side of the access hole. Simply press the button and then turn the disposal ON. This step is the most common problem and the simplest to fix. A lot of people don't know about this reset button, but let me tell you who does know: the plumber that will charge you $200 to come to you home and press this button. Don't let that happen to you.

Try these steps first. If the problem still isn't fixed, at least you know you've tried everything you can before calling a plumber. You've empowered yourself!

You can see me demonstrate this project and many more by visiting my new web series: Master Your Domain. Check it out.

Thank you, CafeMoms and stay strong.

Anthony Gilardi 

Have a question about a home repair or improvement topic to Ask Anthony? Leave your question in the comments below.


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