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What Causes a Garbage Disposal to Seize Up?

Your garbage disposal is an important kitchen appliance. It allows you to deal with food waste quickly and efficiently, minimizing the risk of ants or other pests attracted to food. If your garbage disposal makes a sound, that indicates that there is power coming into the unit but the blades are not turning. The sound can be a buzzing or a humming, and sometimes the garbage disposal will stop on its own even if you did not turn the unit off. In this post we’ll examine what some of the causes might be and what you can do about it.

Foreign Object

Maybe somebody put something down the disposal other than food. It’s easy to drop a spoon or other utensil, and if it isn’t immediately retrieved, it can cause a blockage. Maybe a child threw something down the disposal and didn’t mention it. In any event, the foreign object could certainly cause the impeller blades to jam, causing the unit to seize up.

Poorly Ground Food

Garbage disposals work by grinding up the food waste and washing it down; sometimes, though, it is not ground up as thoroughly as necessary. It is not uncommon that large bits of food or bone become stuck between the impeller blade and the drain hole causing the unit to jam. When you hear the garbage disposal making an odd sound, don’t immediately assume that somebody put something down the disposal that shouldn’t be there. It could be poorly ground food.

Tripped Power Breaker

Garbage disposals are usually on a separate circuit breaker known as a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). GFCI circuit breakers and outlets protect people from electrical shock. If they detect an energy leak of even a thousandth of a milliamp, they will shut down the circuit. If your garbage disposal suddenly seized up, it could be due to a tripped breaker. This lack of electrical current to turn the motor may be the problem.

Motor Bearings

Sometimes, the motor bearings in a garbage disposal get frozen or seized up. If this is the case with your garbage disposal, you’ll likely need a professional to look at it. And it may be time for a new one. The experts at Dave’s Appliance can guide you here.

What to Do?

Reset the Unit

If the problem is a tripped breaker, simply press the reset button and see if normal disposal operation is restored. The reset button can be found at the bottom of the unit. Since this is an easy fix, it’s a good idea to start with that. If the garbage disposal is still seized up, you’ll need to investigate further.

Identify and Remove Blockage

Whether it is a large bone or a fork, an object stuck in the impeller blades needs to be removed. Since this involves some danger, it may be something you want the experts at Dave’s Appliance to do. If you want to attempt it yourself, you need to follow these steps:
Cut the power to the garbage disposer by unplugging the unit and cutting the electrical circuit. This prevents the motor from burning out and more importantly ensures that you do not get electrocuted; Under the sink you will find the breaker socket at the bottom section of the garbage disposal. You need to insert a hex head Allen wrench in that breaker socket;
Start moving the wrench back and forth to get the flywheel to turn and set free the jammed particle in the impeller blades; Return power to the garbage disposal unit and check if normal function has been restored.

When your garbage disposal seizes up, you want to deal with it right away. Hopefully, a simple reset eliminates the problem. If a blockage is the issue, you might want to contact us at Dave’s Appliance. And if you identify and remove a blockage yourself, but the humming or buzzing persists, you should definitely give us a call.

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