Since its invention in 1927 by John W. Hammes, the garbage disposal has continued to be the kitchen’s workhorse. Its design has remained relatively unchanged, but its importance has grown to the point that it is an essential appliance in our kitchens.
They’re effective in shredding leftover food and other kitchen waste into small pieces that can travel smoothly through your drainpipes and the sewer lines. By failing to install a garbage disposal or bypassing your malfunctioning one, you risk clogging your drain pipes, and we all know how expensive these plumbing repairs are.
And, as much as they’re reliable, garbage disposals may trip your circuit breaker occasionally. If you’re experiencing such, worry not; here are six reasons why.
The Shredding Plate is Jammed
A garbage disposal is usually mounted on the underside of a sink to collect food materials that make it through the sink drain. Once you turn it on, the collected food in the grinding chamber is shredded by a fast-moving impeller plate or spinning disc.
The impeller’s rotational shredding motion throws the smaller food particles to the outer wall of the grinding chamber, where they get washed through the holes.
Sometimes, the shredding plate is worn out significantly or jams due to stuck food particles. The result is that the breaker trips to protect the appliance from self-inflicted damages.
What to do:
- If your shredding plate is jammed, locate an opening at the bottom of the appliance and insert a ¼-inch Allen or a disposer wrench.
- Wiggle your wrench in alternate clockwise and anticlockwise motions until you feel that the shredding plate moves freely.
- If your garbage disposal lacks the opening at the bottom, an alternative is inserting a broom handle into the drain opening.
- Gently wiggle the plate until you feel that it rotates freely.
The Motor Bearings are Worn Out
Garbage disposal motor bearings wear out after years of service. To know, rotate the shredding plate, as we’ve discussed above. If you’re able to free the shredding plate, but it doesn’t rotate when the motor is on, the motor bearings are likely worn out.
What to do: There’s no repair for disposer motor bearings. If the unit’s motor fails, your only option is to replace the whole appliance.
The unit is Aging
If your disposal’s reset button doesn’t stay in after multiple attempts, chances are high that the appliance is old and may need a replacement. Garbage disposal motors get weaker over time, tripping the breakers more frequently.
What to do: Replace your garbage disposal unit with a new one.
Circuit Breaker Overload
Review the power requirements of all appliances in your kitchen before installation. Sometimes, you may find that your garbage disposal unit has a higher rating than the breaker. If the circuit breaker is too small to handle the wattage requirements of your unit, it will trip.
Additionally, connecting multiple devices may overwhelm the circuit breaker, and hence it will trip.
What to do: Replace your circuit breaker with one having a higher rating suitable for your garbage disposal.
Carelessness or poor installation can also result in circuit breaker tripping. FYI, electricity moves through closed conductor loops to power your appliance. Any wrongful termination will not only trip the circuit breaker, but might also destroy the garbage disposal unit.
What to do: Call a professional electrician to rewire your appliance.
Naked or stripped wires short circuit your garbage disposal, tripping the breaker as a safety measure to protect your appliance and home from electrical fires.
What to do: If you detect the smell of burning plastic after turning on your garbage disposal, shut it off immediately. Next, call a professional electrician to assess and rewire your appliance’s panel.