Garbage disposers are treated like mechanical goats: fed most anything. Unfortunately, they aren't as tough as goats. If your disposer needs fixing, here's how.
Insert the hex wrench on the bottom and turn to rotate the flywheel.
A garbage disposer is a motorized appliance that grinds waste from food preparation into liquid for washing down the drain.
The disposer motor turns a flywheel to which impellers are attached. Food waste within the chamber is repeatedly hit and cut by these rotating impellers, grinding it into small particles that can be flushed through the drain pipe and into the septic or sewer system. If a dishwasher is nearby, a line from the dishwasher attaches to the garbage disposer so debris from the dishwater can be caught by the disposer. The entire disposer unit is attached to the bottom of the sink using a flange, ring, and mounting bolts. It is plugged into an under-sink electrical outlet for power.
With minimal maintenance, a garbage disposer can outlive a goat. Simple maintenance includes ensuring that a disposer's enemies—grease, large items, hard items, and fibrous foods—be eliminated from its diet.
Before working on the disposer, unplug it under the sink, or, if it is wired directly into the house, trip the circuit breaker or remove the fuse at the main electrical box.
Service the flywheel:
Inspect the bottom of the disposer for a six-sided (hex) hole.
If it has one, look for a hex wrench in a pouch on or near the disposer. The hex wrench is used to rotate the motor shaft and flywheel without having to access the inside of the garbage disposer. If you don't find one, check your toolbox or purchase one. Don't use a screwdriver or other tool because it can damage the hex hole.
To free the flywheel, insert the hex wrench in the hex hole and rotate it in a circle in both directions.
Stop leaks in hoses and seals:
Place a hand at various locations around the disposer to identify the source of the leak.
As needed, tighten fittings to eliminate the leak.
If the leakage is from underneath the garbage disposer, it is probably leaking through the flywheel seal and into the motor. Remove the garbage disposer from the drain system, disassemble the unit and replace the seal, or take the unit in for service.
Service worn impellers:
Unplug the garbage disposer from the electric receptacle or turn it off at the circuit breaker box.
Remove all hose fittings connected to the disposer. Some garbage disposers can then be removed by twisting to free them from the support ring. Others require that the unit be unscrewed from the ring.
Carefully remove the garbage disposer from under the sink, being aware that it is heavy.
To service worn impellers on many models, dismantle the unit and remove the flywheel lock nut and flywheel.
Remove the impellers or sharpen them in place, depending on the model. If the impellers cannot be sharpened, the flywheel assembly will need to be replaced as a unit.