Garbage Disposal Is Spinning But Will Not Drain – How To Fix

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garbage disposal repairThere are a number of things that can cause your garbage disposal to not properly drain and to completely clog your sink. Here are some simple quick tips that can help you fix your disposal fast and easy yourself without calling a plumber and having to spend a lot of money on repairs. Garbage Disposer Humming?

IF THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL IS SPINNING AND SOUNDS NORMAL – First try a quick fix by cleaning out the disposer and the waste lines. The easiest is to run ice cubes in the garbage disposal. Fill the garbage disposal with the ice cubes and run the water. Then turn on the garbage disposal until the grinding stops. This should clear out the lines and water should drain from your sink. Another method is to run hard pasta in your disposal. Pour a bag of uncooked pasta in the disposal and run it while running the water. If neither of these simple procedures work, see below for more ways to repair it yourself.

IF THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL MAKES NO NOISE WHEN YOU TURN IT ON – First thing is to check the breaker in the house to make sure it did not trip. If the breaker is on then….. There is usually a red reset button on the very bottom of every garbage disposal (locate the disposal under your sink and find the reset button at the very bottom of the disposer itself). The reset button will stick out from the bottom of the disposal. Once located press the red reset button and test the disposal for proper operation.

garbage disposal reset buttonRed Reset Button On The Bottom Of A Garbage Disposal

IF THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL IS NOT SPINNING (HUMMING) – This means that the motor is not able to spin the disposer wheel. The first thing you should try is to insert an allen wrench (that came with your disposer) into the center of the bottom of the garbage disposal. While the wrench is in place, turn the wrench in a clockwise motion until it spins freely. If this test makes the disposer spin, then it is likely you have a bad motor on your disposal. If you do not have the allen wrench that came with your disposal, then you can use a wooden kitchen spoon. Unplug the disposal and put the end of the spoon into the sink hole and into the disposal. Try turning the wheel with the spoon. If this does not work then another method is to use a flashlight and look into the disposal and see if there is any large items that are preventing it from spinning. If you find something, remove it with a pair of tongs so to avoid putting your hand in the disposal.

garbage disposal bottom hole for allen wrenchLocation Of Hole To Place Allen Wrench And Turn On Bottom Of Garbage Disposal

IF THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL IS SPINNING BUT STILL NOT DRAINING – Then positively there is a major clog in the plumbing. See the pictures below to properly fix this. MAKE SURE TO UNPLUG THE DISPOSAL FIRST!

Garbage Disposal RepairStep 1 – Remove all cleaning products from under the sink.

Garbage Disposal RepairStep 2 – Locate the Garbage Disposal and begin removing the drain line.
(ours was held in with screws but yours may vary)

Garbage Disposal RepairStep 3 – Remove the drain line from the disposal.
(you will have to loosen the other line that is attached to it to remove it)

Garbage Disposal RepairStep 4 – Completely Remove the drain line from the disposal and look in the
hole to see if there is an object causing the clog. (ours was clear)

Garbage Disposal RepairStep 5 – Locate the plumbing line before the “trap”. It is the sideways “T” line
that you need to take out. Unscrew the plumbing and remove the “T”.

Garbage Disposal RepairStep 6 – Once the “T” plumbing is removed, look inside for a jammed or
clogged piece of food. (ours was full of gunk therefore causing the clog)

Garbage Disposal RepairStep 7 – Since your sink is apart, do not run water from your faucet or it will leak out.
Use a garden hose and spray out the clogged food from inside of the “T” plumbing.

Garbage Disposal RepairStep 8 – Once you are sure that all the clogs are removed, put the plumbing lines
back in their place and firmly tighten. Once everything is back together, run water
from the sink faucet and run your disposal. There should be no leaks, no clogs and the disposer should work.

diagram of garbage disposalParts Diagram of a Garbage Disposal

If you still need help, assistance, or answers to fix your Garbage Disposal Not Draining problem, ask the
experts over at Appliance Repair Questions for free answers to fix your broken appliance!

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Renesha July 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm

THANKS for the great step by step instructions. We had a HUGE clog in the drain line and this site helped me to fix it without calling a plumber.

2 DIY Project Help Tips July 26, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Hi Renesha,
Glad we saved you from having to call a plumber!

3 Daryl December 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Exactly what was wrong with mine. Thanks!

4 Nav December 12, 2013 at 4:47 am

Thank you so much for posting this. You seriously saved me from calling the plumber. Great job!

5 John Smith January 2, 2014 at 12:57 am

Thank you very much for this detailed article – it saved us yesterday!

We were hosting a New Year’s Eve party and an hour before the guests were expected, the sink clogged up. The garbage disposal kept spinning but the sink wouldn’t drain.

Your article helped me open and clean out the clogged pipe in less than half an hour and be back in business. Also didn’t need to call a plumber who would’ve taken longer to arrive and charged us heavily knowing that we had a party starting in an hour.

Thank you very very much!!!


6 mister February 5, 2014 at 12:34 am

Thanks a bunch! I had no idea what to do and your instructions were on the money!!!

7 Jessica March 20, 2014 at 4:40 am

This saved me a lot of money! I saw that the garbage disposal was spinning but I didn’t know what it could be. Within ten minutes I had it back and working! Thanks so much!

8 Joel July 10, 2014 at 1:24 am

Great tips!! Worked for us! However, in your pictures, your disposal is still plugged in!

9 Kenny R July 22, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Wow. Thank you sooooo much. I called a plumber just to get some idea of the overall cost and you have saved me, and my marriage :), a whole lot of money. Thank you.

10 Pedro August 23, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Hi, thanks for the article, I believe we had a clogged line and my wife had a great idea of using a toilet plunger and it worked after a couple of plunges. Kinda gross, I guess, but it worked. Thanks again

11 cathy September 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Who knew? Really! That dried pasta would clear up my draining problem. I had tried everything else. I was so close to calling a plumber. Thank you. I am so grateful you took the time to share your insights.

12 KJ September 7, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Your instructions work. No problems now and no issues. Thank You!

13 Bart October 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Great instructions regarding not draining and disposal working. I tried the ice cubes with no luck. I then scrolled down and saw the instructions of clearing the pipes and began to take the pipes to see if there was a clog and there was a big one. Thanks!

14 pc October 31, 2014 at 3:13 am

Thank you for the step by step help. It worked and we did it without spending any money!

15 John November 1, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Thank you for the thoughtful and clear instructions. Worked like a charm.

16 Sabu November 27, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Thanks a lot for the information. The second step(using kitchen spoon) to spin at the bottom.. That resolved my issue.. Saved me $$$$.. Thanks

17 Shannon November 28, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I almost certainly have a huge clog somewhere in my disposal system and since this guide is so clearly written and doesn’t involve any technical equipment, I’m sure I could take care of it myself…the only thing I’m concerned about is that I live in a big apartment building and I share a water line with all of the apartments above and below me. If I disconnect what I’m meant to and someone above me turns their kitchen faucet on, is water going to drain out of my line while I’m working?? I know this is an old guide, but hopefully someone can respond! Thanks.

18 DIY Project Help Tips November 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Hi Shannon,
No, water will not drain out. Different water and drain lines. You are ok to remove the lines to see if you can unclog yourself.

19 Tim December 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Thanks! That did the trick! I had to unclog it like you guys did but it works now!

20 Gayle December 14, 2014 at 10:42 pm

I’m stumped. Problem: My Badger disposal runs but water will not drain and both sinks back up with water. I’ve disassembled all the drain pipe segments and found no clogs whatsoever. I removed the dishwasher drain pipe to the disposal – no clogs there either. Removed the disposal drain pipe that forms the T connection at both ends – no clogs. Removed the disposal itself and saw no clogs or other obstructions while shining a flashlight and turning the impeller with the disposal wrench – nothing. When I hook everything back up, the water backs up into both sinks again whether or not the disposal is running. I definitely need your advice as to what is preventing the water from draining…help!

21 DIY Project Help Tips December 14, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Sounds like you have a clog past the point of the disposal and tubing under your sink. You may need to get a Plumbing Snake as it seems there may be a large clog further down the line. Have you tried a toilet plunger?

22 Gayle December 14, 2014 at 11:20 pm

RR – thank you for the quick response. I used a hand crank snake at the wall, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I think my feeble attempts are useless. I live in an old, single level condo complex of 27 units, and my unit is nearest the street. The plumbing here is horrible, in general, probably due to age and the many large, well-established trees on the property. This looks like a job for a plumber with a power snake that likes climbing up on roof tops :-) Oh, and yes, I’ve tried both hot water and a plunger as remedies…to no avail.

23 Pauline December 17, 2014 at 5:11 am

Just ran several cups of ice cubes through the disposal and it has started to drain properly again and not back up with dirty water. Cautiously optimistic that this is all that was required. Thank you!

24 Brandon December 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I’m having the same problem Gayle is having. I’ve taken apart the connections to the disposal, used a Drano pipe snake, bought and used a physical metal pipe snake, and the line below the disposal seems clear. I’ve done ice cubes and baking soda & vinegar on the disposal, it still turns on and grinds, always did. But when I get it all back together, the water won’t drain. I keep thinking it’s something weird, like air is sneaking into the line and that’s causing some pressure issues that keep the line from draining.

25 DIY Project Help Tips December 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Try a BRAND NEW toilet plunger. If you have a double sink, cover the other side. Fill the disposal side with water, have someone look under the sink with a flashlight while you plunge the water down. You will usually see water come out of one of the pipes where the blockage is as pressure will make it leak. Where you see the leak is usually going to be where the blockage is. If you see no leak and the water goes down, then it is fixed. This is not very high tech but it seems you have tried all other methods. Give it a try and let us know the results.

26 kat December 29, 2014 at 8:15 am

Thank you so much the ice did the trick! so simple yea:}

27 Bill January 23, 2015 at 12:22 am

Wow! Thanks for the tips! Just had a big clog and had no idea what was wrong, but your step by step process got me through it in no time! Thanks so much for posting this info!

28 AS February 6, 2015 at 3:01 am

Thanks a lot. It worked. Easy to follow instructions to figure out where the problem was and how to solve it.

29 AF February 26, 2015 at 2:29 am

Thank you so much! The ice cubes worked and I NEVER would have thought of that as a solution.

30 Tim B March 1, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Thank you, what a great tip!

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