Garbage Disposal Use Guide and Troubleshooting

We know that having a garbage disposal on the fritz can be frustrating.  Most of the time, the problem is not only easily avoided, but easily fixed. Let's begin by working together to prevent problems 

Never Evers: Never grind fibrous foods, coffee grounds, or eggshells, bones, glass, rubber or metal in your garbage disposal. Never overfill it. And never use chemical drain cleaners to unclog it: they won’t work and you’ll be stuck with a sink full of toxic liquids.
Always, Always: Always run cold water while in use. Always have a drain strainer to avoid blockage. And if items get stuck in the unit for too long and your sink begins to stink, make it smell better by grinding up a small lemon peel with ice cubes while running warm water.
What Not to Put in a Garbage Disposal!
  • Some foods don’t grind up easily, so avoid putting the following items in your garbage disposal:
  • Grease or oil can solidify inside a garbage disposal and cause clogs in the drain pipe.
  • Potato peels contain starch which can cling to the sides of the disposal, making it difficult to flush out into the drain pipe.
  • Glass, plastic, metal, or paper can jam or dull the blades of a garbage disposal.
  • Big bones, seeds, or pits can also dull the blades, jam the disposal, or become lodged in the drain pipe.
  • Expandable foods, such as pasta and rice, also contain starch which can cling to the disposal. In addition, water can cause them to expand in the disposal and cause a clog.
Tip #1: Run Disposal Regularly
Run your garbage disposal on a regular basis. Even if you don’t have anything to grind up, turn on the water and run the disposal every few days to move the parts around. Otherwise, the disposal can freeze up, rust, or corrode; and any leftover food inside can harden, leading to odors and clogs.
Tip #2: Use Cold Water
Run cold water—not hot—when using your garbage disposal. Hot water works great for cleaning most things, but not your garbage disposal. Hot water can melt the food your disposal is trying to grind up, allowing the waste to cling to the sides. Cold water, on the other hand, hardens food, making it easier for the garbage disposal to grind it up and push it out the drain pipe.
Tip #3: Run Disposal Longer
After your garbage disposal has finished grinding up the waste, keep it and the water running for a minute. This ensures that all the food has been flushed out the drain pipe to prevent clogs. You can also run cold water and a little dish soap down the drain after you’ve finished grinding up the waste. This will help clean out the disposal and make sure nothing remains behind or is clinging to the sides.
Tip #4: Cut Waste into Small Pieces
Your garbage disposal is only so big, and its blades and motor are only so powerful, so don’t expect miracles if you feed it large chunks of meat or fruit. Go easy, cut waste into smaller chunks, and only put in a few pieces at a time. Otherwise, you can overwork the disposal and clog or jam it—or worse, break it altogether.



It is your responsibility to practice safety when using this guide. NEVER place your hand or other body parts, any tools or other items, other than approved food products, into the garbage disposal at any time for any reason

If at anytime you feel uncomfortable with the trouble shooting guide or any other item having to do with your garbage disposal, stop immediately and call our maintenance department at 503-224-3002 or send a maintenance request through your tenants portal, or email at


A garbage disposal can run into many kinds of problems, some of which can be easily fixed and others that may need more advanced training. You’ll have to decide which you’re most capable of, but for safety’s sake, never take unnecessary risks if you’re not qualified to do so. Here are some common troubles you may encounter:
Overheating: If you flip the switch and your garbage disposal doesn’t even hum, then it’s probably overheated due to overfilling and has tripped itself off. The first step is to look under the unit and locate the red reset button. If nothing happens once you push the button, then locate your circuit box and see if a breaker has been tripped. This is a common problem and easily accomplished. If this doesn't fix the problem, contact Real Property Management Solutions.

Image result for man fixing garbage disposal

Jamming: If the unit is humming but still isn’t working, then it probably means it’s jammed (the impellers are stuck). First step, never put your hand down into the drain and into grinding chamber. This may seem like an obvious bit of advice, but it’s everyone’s natural instinct to reach into the problem and try to dislodge items by hand, so it is critical to overcome this gut reaction. 
Second, turn off circuit breakers to the unit.
Third, locate the Fly Wheel Turning Wrench Hole located at the bottom of the garbage disposal unit. Simply insert the flywheel wrench that came with the unit or use an allen wrench that is 1/4" in size. 
Insert the allen wrench into the fly wheel turning wrench hole as pictured and try to move the fly wheel back and forth. Turn the fly wheel anywhere from 1/2 turn to a full turn, first clockwise and then counter-clockwise, until if feels like the jammed fly wheel has become free. If you cannot turn the flywheel with this process, stop immediately and notify Real Property Management Solutions

Image result for flywheel turning wrench hole for garbage disposal

If you were able to free the fly wheel, remove the allen wrench used to turn the garbage disposal flywheel, ensure the garbage disposal is off by checking the garbage disposal on/off switch. Make sure the switch is in the off position. Go to the breaker box where you previously turned the breaker to the garbage disposal to the off position. Flip the breaker to the on position
Return to the garbage disposal, Ensure no items are in the garbage disposal chamber. Begin running cold water in the sink with the disposal, ensure no water blockage is present and turn the garbage disposal on.  If the disposal is working properly, run cold water to the disposal for 30 second to 1 minute. Observe the operation and ensure the disposal is working properly and no overheating is occurring. If the disposal is not working or you observe signs that there may be additional issues with the disposal, contact Real Property Management Solutions.
The Real Property Management Solutions Maintenance Team

Still need help? Contact Us Contact Us