Food disposal units are a wonderful kitchen convienence but are an added load to your sewage system.

To prevent problems, choose a disposer carefully.

The purpose of a food disposer is to grind up the food and kitchen waste so it can be flushed down the sink drainage system easily.  They are a convienent appliance in the kitchen but they do increase the load on your sewage system.  In fact it has been stated that the increased load is as much as having another person in the house!

If you are building a new home or just replacing an old unit, it's important to choose a food disposer that has at least a 1/2 horsepower motor.  Other features you should look for when selecting a new food disposal unit are:

  • A self-reversing feature to prevent jamming
  • Foam sound insulation - this will cut down on the noise level when it is running
  • A cast iron grinding ring
  • Overload protection that will reset the motor if it overheats


Run hot sudsy water through daily.  To keep the disposer smelling clean and fresh, run some leftover lemon or lime rinds through it once a week.  To clean the impeller assembly (inside blades), just grind up ice cubes.

Food Disposal UnitCredit:


If the disposal unit doesn't run and you can't hear a humming noise when you turn it on, push the reset button on the bottom of the unit.

If the unit still won't turn on, check the circuit breaker or fuse box.

If the disposal unit doesn't run but you can hear a humming noise when you turn it on, it is more than likely jammed.  If this is the case, you should be able to free it by turning the impeller assembly.  Your unit might come with a wrench to turn the assembly from the bottom of the unit.  First and foremost, turn off the electricity that leads to the unit at the breaker box.  Flip the breaker and double check to make sure it is off.    Then find the slot at the bottom of the unit, insert the wrench, and turn clockwise.  Turn the electricity back on, push the reset button, and the test to see if the disposal unit is working.

If you don't have a wrench to turn the unit from the bottom, you can free the unit by using a wooden handle, like a mopstick handle or heavy wooden spoon, to turn it from the top.  Again, turn off the electricity to the unit.  Then insert the wooden stick into the disposal and try to rotate the impeller assembly.  Once you have freed the blades and they move around, turn the power back on, push the reset button, and test the disposer. 

If all of these actions fail, then you might need to install a new disposal unit.

It is important to note that in some communities where the sewage capacity has been strained to its limit, food disposal units are not being allowed any longer by Code.  If you have a private septic system, using a disposer is discouraged because too much food waste can interfere with the normal decomposition of septic waste.