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As seasoned plumbers, our team has encountered our fair share of kitchen plumbing issues, and one common problem we encounter is garbage disposals. These handy appliances often bear the brunt of our culinary adventures, but they, too, can falter over time. 

Below, we’ll shed light on common garbage disposal repair and replacement troubleshooting tasks and share some invaluable tips and advice on when to call a professional plumbing company for assistance.

Garbage Disposal Basics

Before delving into repair and replacement, let’s understand the fundamentals of garbage disposals. These nifty devices sit beneath your kitchen sink, grinding food scraps into tiny particles, making them easier to dispose of through the drain pipes. Routine maintenance such as regularly cleaning it out, along with responsible usage can prolong their lifespan, but like all things, they have limits.

Repairing Your Garbage Disposal 

When it comes to tackling minor repairs related to your garbage disposal, many homeowners can handle these tasks themselves. To start, here’s where you can troubleshoot common problems: 

Check for Power Issues: When facing a malfunctioning garbage disposal, first check to see if it’s receiving power. Ensure it’s plugged in correctly and that no circuit breakers have been tripped. If it’s still unresponsive, try pressing the reset button, usually located at the bottom of the unit.

Jamming and Clogs: Garbage disposals often get jammed due to large or fibrous food items. Before attempting any repairs, always disconnect the power supply. Then, use an Allen wrench to turn the disposal’s flywheel manually. This can often free up any jammed debris. Avoid using your hands to clear the jam.

Leaks and Loose Connections: Inspect the disposal for leaks or loose connections. Often, a leak may be caused by a faulty gasket, worn-out seal, or loose mounting screws. Tighten any connections and replace damaged parts as needed.

Unusual Noises: If your garbage disposal is making unusual grinding, rattling, or screeching noises, it could be a sign of loose components or damaged blades. In such cases, you may need to dismantle the disposal and inspect the inner workings for any issues.

When to Consider Replacement

While repairs can solve many garbage disposal issues, there comes a point when it’s more practical to opt for replacement. Here are few considerations for garbage disposal replacement: 

  • Frequent Breakdowns: If your garbage disposal is becoming a regular nuisance, requiring repairs every few months, it might be time for a new unit. Frequent breakdowns are a telltale sign of age and wear.
  • Old Age: The average lifespan of a garbage disposal is around 10-15 years. If your unit is reaching or has surpassed this range, it might be best to invest in a new, energy-efficient model with improved features.
  • Irreparable Damage: Sometimes, a garbage disposal sustains damage that is beyond repair. For instance, if the motor has burnt out or the grinding chamber is cracked, replacement becomes inevitable.

When to Call a Professional Plumbing Company

As a DIY enthusiast, it’s natural to want to tackle household issues on your own. However, certain situations call for the expertise of a professional plumbing company. Here are a couple more things to consider when attempting a DIY job on a garbage disposal:

  • Electrical and Plumbing Expertise: Garbage disposal units involve both electrical and plumbing components. If you don’t have experience with electrical wiring and plumbing connections, attempting repairs can be dangerous and may lead to further damage.
  • Persistent Clogs and Leaks: If your garbage disposal continues to clog frequently or develops persistent leaks despite your efforts, it’s best to seek professional assistance. These issues may require more thorough diagnosis and expert solutions.
  • Installation of a New Unit: Installing a new garbage disposal involves proper alignment, sealing, and electrical connections. A plumbing professional can ensure a smooth and safe installation, preventing future problems.

While minor garbage disposal issues can often be resolved with some know-how and elbow grease, recognizing the signs of irreparable damage and knowing when to call a professional plumbing company is crucial. 

If you’re unsure about tackling garbage disposal issues yourself, reach out to our team. Our solutions get to the source of the problem the first time, preventing further issues from reoccurring. 

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