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"What should I do if my garbage disposal is making buzzing and humming sounds?"
If your garbage disposal is making bad sounds, turn it off and stop using it.
Often buzzing or humming sounds are caused by an object lodged in the disposal blades, holding them in place while the motor is still trying to operate. However, a buzzing sound while the disposal is still running might also mean that the machine is failing, which becomes more likely if the machine over ten years old.
If you feel comfortable trying to identify the issue yourself, try the following steps:
SAFETY FIRST: turn off the disposal, and unplug it (under the sink). If for some reason you can't unplug it, shut off the breaker switch that controls the disposal.
Once you're SURE it's shut off, reach down inside the disposal, and feel for objects or debris that may have stopped the blades from rotating. Try to remove any foreign matter.
Look for the red RESET button on the front or bottom of the disposal. If it has popped out, press it back in. If it won't stay in, try the next step...
Manually rotate the blade from the "flywheel turning wrench hole" at the bottom of the disposal, using an Allen wrench inserted into the hole. Consult your user manual for more information if you need help finding it. If you can get the wrench to turn, you have probably dislodged whatever was causing the problem. Run the water, and turn on the disposal to see if it's fixed.
If none of the above steps work, or you don’t feel comfortable taking the DIY approach, contact a garbage disposal repair professional for assistance.
"My garbage disposal smells – what causes it, and can I do about it?"
Garbage disposal smells are often caused by food build-up and decay inside of the disposal chamber, or in the pipes underneath the disposal:
To get rid of the smell, start by cleaning the unit. Many disposals can be effectively cleaned with basic household pantry items. Options include:
Fill the sink at least half way with water, adding a small amount soap and vinegar. Open the stopper and turn on the disposal until all the water has flowed through.
Combine ice cubes and sea salt or Kosher salt. Drop the mixture into the disposal, turn on the tap so adequate water is flowing, and run the disposal.
Grind a whole lemon in the disposal.
If none of the above works, and you are a true DIY'er, remove the pipes below the disposal to check for food materials, slimy build-up, or hardened residue inside the pipes. Clean as needed.
If cleaning the garbage disposal is not for you, it's time to call a garbage disposal specialist to help you track down the problem and fix it!
"Who do I call to diagnose and repair or replace a disposal?"
You have a few options:
Appliance Professionals, especially those who specialize in garbage disposals, can provide service for any disposal. Plumbers are in most cases trained to repair or replace disposals, and can help with almost any issue except cases involving electrical problems. Handymen may be able to provide basic installation and troubleshooting since most disposal problems are relatively common, but some handymen may lack plumbing skills.
"Can I buy a new disposal unit myself and have someone else install it?"
Most professionals will install garbage disposals purchased separately from their services. However, before purchasing, you may want to consult with the installer to ensure that the unit purchased will be suitable for your home and needs.
"Who should I call to install a new garbage disposal?"
It depends on whether you are replacing an existing garbage disposal, or installing a new one where no disposal previously existed.
If you are replacing an existing disposal: appliance repair professionals, plumbers and many handymen will be sufficiently qualified to replace a garbage disposal, assuming that the new disposal is similar to the one being replaced.
If you are installing a new disposal for the first time: it might be wise to go with an appliance professional who is experienced in garbage disposal installations. An appliance pro should be able to handle all aspects of the installation, including electrical needs. In a few cases, a carpenter or handyman might be needed if a substantial amount of carpentry is required.