Garbage disposal not used for a long time. A Complete Troubleshooting Guide

As I stood in front of my kitchen sink, I noticed the dust and cobwebs that had accumulated around my long-neglected garbage disposal. It had been months since I last used it, and now, with a deep breath, I was ready to tackle the challenge of safely restarting it after a long break.

Restarting a garbage disposal may seem like a daunting task, but fear not! With a few simple steps and careful attention to detail, you can have your disposal up and running smoothly once again.

In this article, I will guide you through the process, providing you with expert tips and techniques to ensure a successful restart. So grab your tools and let’s dive into the world of garbage disposal maintenance together.

Garbage disposal not used for a long time? What to do now?

Turn off the power and check for blockages using a flashlight and tongs. Use an Allen wrench on tough drain pipe obstructions. Run cold water before and after usage, slowly add food waste, and avoid hard or fibrous objects. Keep the disposal clean for best results.

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Key Takeaways

  • Turn off the power before inspecting and restarting the garbage disposal
  • Use a flashlight and tongs or pliers to remove any visible blockages
  • Check the drain pipe for clogs or build-up and dislodge stubborn clogs with an Allen wrench
  • Regular maintenance, such as cleaning with ice cubes or citrus peels, is crucial for the longevity of the disposal

Check for any blockages or debris

Before restarting your garbage disposal, it’s crucial to carefully inspect for any potential blockages or debris. Unclogging techniques and signs of malfunction are important aspects to consider during this inspection.

To begin, make sure the power to the garbage disposal is turned off by unplugging it from the electrical outlet or flipping the corresponding circuit breaker. This will prevent any accidental activation while you’re working on it.

Next, take a flashlight and shine it down into the disposal unit to check for any visible obstructions such as food particles, utensils, or other foreign objects.

If you notice any blockages, use a pair of tongs or pliers to carefully remove them. Never use your hands directly in the disposal unit as this can be dangerous. Additionally, check the drain pipe connected to the disposal for any clogs or build-up that may be causing issues.

In some cases, you might encounter more stubborn clogs that require additional attention. One effective technique is using an Allen wrench inserted into the bottom center of the disposal unit. Rotate it back and forth several times to dislodge any stuck objects.

Furthermore, pay attention to signs of a malfunctioning garbage disposal such as strange noises, leaks, or a failure to start when powered on. These could indicate internal damage or mechanical issues that might require professional assistance.

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Run cold water before and after using the disposal

To ensure smooth operation, make sure you always run cold water both before and after using the disposal – this simple step can reduce the risk of clogs by up to 50%.

Using warm water instead of cold water can be a common mistake when using a garbage disposal. Warm or hot water causes fats and oils to liquefy, which may lead to clogs further down your pipes. The cold water helps solidify any grease or oil that enters the disposal, making it easier for it to be chopped up and flushed away.

Here are some other common mistakes when using a garbage disposal:

  • Overloading the disposal: It’s important not to put too much food waste into the disposal at once. This can overwhelm its grinding capabilities and potentially cause blockages.
  • Grinding hard items: Avoid putting hard items like bones, fruit pits, or shells into the disposal. These items can damage the blades and decrease their overall lifespan.
  • Pouring chemicals down the drain: Chemical drain cleaners may seem like a quick fix for clogs, but they can actually harm your garbage disposal over time. Stick to natural cleaning methods, such as vinegar and baking soda.
  • Neglecting regular maintenance: Regularly maintaining your garbage disposal is crucial for its longevity. This includes cleaning it with ice cubes or citrus peels and periodically checking for leaks or unusual noises.

By following these tips and running cold water before and after each use, you’ll help ensure a safe restart of your garbage disposal after a long break.

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Gradually introduce small amounts of food waste

When introducing small amounts of food waste, it’s important to gradually add them to your garbage disposal. This helps prevent clogs and ensures optimal disposal efficiency.

By following this method, you can avoid overwhelming the disposal with too much waste at once, which could lead to a malfunction or blockage.

To help you better understand how to gradually introduce food waste, I have created a table below that outlines the recommended steps:

1Start by running cold water into the sink.
2Turn on the garbage disposal and let it run for a few seconds.
3Slowly add a small amount of food waste into the disposal while it is still running.
4Allow the disposal to process the waste before adding more.
5Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all the food waste has been disposed of.

Following these steps will ensure that your garbage disposal operates smoothly without any issues. Remember to always use cold water when running the disposal as it helps solidify any grease or oils present in the waste, making it easier for them to be chopped up and flushed away.

By taking these precautions and being mindful of how you introduce food waste into your garbage disposal, you can maintain its longevity and prevent any potential problems down the line.

Avoid putting in hard or fibrous materials

Be careful not to feed your garbage disposal with hard or fibrous materials, as they can be like tough obstacles in the way of a smooth-running machine. These materials can cause damage to the blades and motor, leading to costly repairs or even the need for a replacement.

To ensure proper maintenance and safe disposal methods, here are five items you should never put into your garbage disposal:

  • Bones: The powerful blades of your garbage disposal may struggle to break down bones, potentially causing them to get stuck and damaging the unit.
  • Fruit pits: These hard objects can also cause blockages in your garbage disposal, leading to potential damage.
  • Fibrous vegetables: Vegetables like celery stalks or corn husks have long fibers that can wrap around the blades and impede their movement.
  • Coffee grounds: While they may seem harmless, coffee grounds can accumulate over time and form clogs in your drain pipes.
  • Eggshells: Despite common belief, eggshells should not be put into your garbage disposal as they can create tiny granular waste that sticks to pipes.

By avoiding these hard and fibrous materials in your garbage disposal, you’ll help maintain its longevity and keep it running smoothly for years to come.

Regularly clean and maintain your garbage disposal

Keeping up with regular cleaning and maintenance of your garbage disposal ensures its optimal performance and prevents any unpleasant surprises down the line.

Proper garbage disposal maintenance is essential for maintaining a functional and efficient unit. Neglecting this important task can lead to clogs, foul odors, and even costly repairs.

One common mistake to avoid when using a garbage disposal is not cleaning it regularly. Over time, food particles can accumulate in the disposal chamber and cause blockages or create an environment for bacteria growth.

To prevent this, it’s recommended to clean your garbage disposal at least once a month by running cold water while grinding ice cubes or citrus peels.

Another important aspect of proper maintenance is checking for any signs of damage or wear. Inspect the blades for any dullness or corrosion, as these can affect the efficiency of the unit. Additionally, make sure all connections are secure and there are no leaks that could lead to water damage.

Lastly, remember to always use your garbage disposal properly. Avoid putting in hard or fibrous materials such as bones, fruit pits, or coffee grounds as these can damage the blades or cause clogs. Also, refrain from pouring grease down the drain as it can solidify and obstruct proper drainage.

By following these guidelines and incorporating regular cleaning into your routine, you’ll ensure that your garbage disposal operates smoothly and efficiently for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my garbage disposal is not turning on after a long break?

If my garbage disposal isn’t turning on after a long break, I’ll troubleshoot the issue. First, I’ll check for any blockages or jammed parts, like a car engine that won’t start due to mechanical problems. Then, I’ll ensure proper garbage disposal maintenance by resetting the unit and checking the power supply.

Can I use hot water instead of cold water when running my garbage disposal?

Hot water can be used to clean your garbage disposal, but it is recommended to use cold water instead. Cold water helps solidify grease and food waste, making it easier for the disposal to break them down.

Is it safe to dispose of eggshells in the garbage disposal?

When it comes to eggshells, it’s best to avoid disposing of them in the garbage disposal. They can cause clogs and damage the blades. Instead, try using eggshells as a natural fertilizer or in DIY projects like homemade chalk.

How often should I clean my garbage disposal?

You should clean your garbage disposal at least once a month to ensure proper functioning. Avoid putting fibrous foods, grease, oil, and coffee grounds into the disposal as they can cause clogs and damage. Replace the garbage disposal every 10-15 years for optimum performance.

What should I do if my garbage disposal starts making strange noises?

If my garbage disposal starts making strange noises, I would troubleshoot the issue by checking for any foreign objects stuck in the blades. Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent such problems from occurring.


Friends, keep in mind that your garbage disposal is like a faithful buddy in the kitchen. It will serve you dutifully for many years if you take good care of it. We must conduct our waste disposal symphony by according to these straightforward instructions, just as a competent conductor guides an orchestra to produce beautiful music. We may safely begin our cherished disposal after a protracted pause with the dexterity of a surgeon’s scalpel and the grace of a ballet dancer. So take control of those food scraps!

Hello, I'm Eva, a professional electronics engineer with a passion for optimizing your home appliances. I'm your go-to expert for all things appliance troubleshooting, here to simplify your challenges.

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