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

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!


76 thoughts on “Garbage Disposal Is Spinning But Will Not Drain – How To Fix”

  1. ALLEN VETTER - DIY Repair Assistant

    Patty drake,
    The penny is jammed in the disposal and causing the problem.
    Unplug the garbage disposal.
    Try to retrieve the penny out of the disposer.
    Once removed, plug the disposal back into power.
    Test the disposal and it should be working now.
    -RR

  2. My garbage disposal will not spin!
    I have used the wrench but it still is jammed, even after moving it back and forth several times.
    I can not make it move around in a circle.
    When I push the reset button there is a humming sound and then it stops humming by itself!
    What am I doing wrong?
    I never used it other than putting ice cubes in it once a week!
    A penny fell down it one day by accident and that must be the problem but I don’t understand why the wrench doesn’t help to unjam it?
    Can you help me please?

  3. Thank you for all your help with my disposal issue with the water not going down. I ended up using a (clean) toilet bowl plunger and after several dozen attempts it finally worked. I do not know what the problem was as I rarely put anything down the disposal anymore!
    Thank you again and I hope my hard work will work for others!

  4. I have InSinkErator Badger 500 in my sink. I use it maybe once a month last 8 years. It did not run from last month. When I turned on the switch, it just sounded zoo~ noise but not running.Therefore, as usual, I inserted an allen wrench into the center of the bottom of the garbage disposal and tried to turn it clockwise with all my strength. But it did not turn at all. I was able to turn it last year but not this time. Is it the time to replace to new one? Water is draining very slowly.

  5. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! I was able to open up the piping under my sink and cleared out a whole bunch of debris and now my sink is draining properly. Having to get a plumber out over the weekend would have cost big bucks and I had a real sense of accomplishment fixing the problem myself!

  6. Thank you ! We moved into this rental house less than a week ago and I didn’t want to start pestering our new LL right away.

    Though I had tried a plunger, I did not know that one needed to do both sides of a double sink.
    Between that and dumping ice cubes into the disposer, it finally belched the cloggy culpriy up from the “regular” side.

    I vow never to put coffee grounds down the sink again!

  7. Thank you VERY much for this tutorial! We found that both traps and the T-line were clogged! with your tutorial, we were able to unclog the whole thing on our own! We avoided a huge repair bill. Thanks again! Everything works!

  8. Tried the ice, no luck. Then the plunger – and that did it…thanks!! Note that with the plunger, I both pushed down and “plunged up” so that the plunging action was working in both directions. I would plunge/push down, let some air out of the plunger so it was “deflated,” and then I could “plunge up” or suck water from the drain upward toward the plunger. I worked it back and forth – pushing and pulling – and after 8 or 10 times, the clog worked loose and broke free!

  9. Wow best ever! It’s 1am in the morning but I’m hell bent on fixing my GD. I removed as much water as I could and plunged it a few times. It took a bit but the clog must’ve worked it’s way out. I didn’t try anything else since I figured it was clogged. Didn’t need my husband or a plummer. Thank you very much.

  10. Brittni Hedstrom

    Thank you, thank you SO much for this troubleshooting tutorial. All of the information was very clear and concise! I was able to clean out the pipes and reassemble everything in less than 15 minutes!

  11. The ice cubes did not work but due to your very clear instructions, I was able to disassemble the PVC from the disposal and found and cleaned out the clog! Thank you for saving me a lot of money. Plus now I can add “plumber” to my resume!

  12. Just used these troubleshooting steps and averted a household crisis. Thanks for the info and step-by-step photos!

  13. If replacing a garbage disposal be sure to remove the plug for the dishwasher drain, if you do not remove the plug, it will not discharge.

  14. Our disposal was spinning and not draining after we juiced some carrots, beats, etc. and we through the peels down the drain…:(. This artical has helped. However, we are still stuck – still no drainage even after opening up the pipes and draining them out. We have tried the ice three times and it seemed to be pushing something. So I am worried that maybe the clog is beyond my access. What should I do now? Thanks!

  15. Matt Rafferty

    Ice cubes and plungers worked for me.
    The GD would drain slowly after use, so I bought two new cheap plungers. After it backed up a bit, and before it slowly drained, I plunged both sinks simultaneously. It worked!
    Thanks!

  16. Oh my goodness, thank you for posting this…. i had a garbage disposal that was sponning but not draining. Ice didnt work, but like 1 cup of hard elbow macaroni did the trick. Soooo happy to have saved $100 on my home warranty deductible. Much appreciated.

  17. Thank you! Your instructions were easy to follow and now I can add “fixing a clogged garbage disposal” to my list of skills. :)

  18. DIY Project Help Tips

    Tiffany,
    We would not recommend working on your garbage disposal without first unplugging it. Are you trying to remove it or unjam it?
    Is it buzzing?
    If there is something in the disposal that is preventing it from spinning, then you can use a wooden object to try and get it out to unjam it.
    -RR

  19. I am trying to unclog my disposal, but the plug is through the wall, is it ok to remove it without unplugging?

  20. DIY Project Help Tips

    Lisa,
    It is most likely the plumbing lines under the sink. If the tube that goes from the disposal has anything clogged in it, it will SLOW DRAIN. Be sure to take off all plumbing lines under the sink and clean them out elsewhere. Some of the tubing has very small hoes in them so nothing large can fall down the drain and be lost forever. Check and recheck if needed.
    -RR

  21. Perfect instructions! I was able to fix a late night clog by myself without calling a plumber. Very proud of myself and grateful to you!!!

  22. I installed a new disposer. The previous one drained water from the sink fine. This one slowly fills the sink. I removed the knock out plug for my dishwasher and that works fine. The disposer grinds and removes waste fine. I checked my pipe connections and they are clear. I ran ice cubes down the disposer several times and that’s fine. But still, water fills. It drains in its own time. What could it be? Everything is the same between the disposers except the brand.

  23. Thanks so much for your easy to follow directions. Directions made it an easy fix for a clogged drain while the hubby was out of town!

  24. Hey. this was a great explanation and I used it the first time mine was clogged. But the second time around I decided to give the plunger a whirl. ( I recommend buying a new one for obvious reasons ) Mine is a dual sink so myself and my wife plunged at the same time. ( or you can block one hole with a plug ) It worked like a charm. turned it on after 15 seconds of plunging and it cleaned it out.

  25. Thank you so much for the step by step. I’ve had to replace one appliance after another and was praying the garbage disposal wasn’t next. It wasn’t! !!! Thanks for the help!!

  26. Bam !!!!! Worked like a charm everyone thought I was crazy and the ice worked . Thanks sooooo much.

  27. I am not a “handy man” by any stretch of the imagination. But thanks to your detailed explanation and pictures, I was able to take apart the plumbing, clear out the gunk and have it re-assembled back again in less than 30 minutes. Thanks again!!!

  28. THANK YOU..! I did two things – mess up our disposer (or so I thought), then keep Mom from calling the plumber, resolving to fix it myself. I found this site and voila! :-)

  29. This may be no big whoopie to you, but I fixed the garbage disposal today! THANK YOU so much for this easy-to-follow tutorial. Lifesaver!

  30. I had the first issue (motor turned, but the water was not going thru and down). Ice Cubes were not enough for the task so I used dried black beans and it totally did the trick! I would have never known…Thanks again

  31. Sheldon Livingston

    Hey… how did you know I had cleaning products under the sink ;-) Sweet! Drain is working again (clogged drain pipe).

  32. After just spending thousands on a new hot water heater and installation the LAST thing I needed was more expenses for a clogged sink. Thanks so much for your help.

  33. After struggling the problem for months, I found your post and have fixed the problem by following your instructions. You are amazing. Thank you very much!

  34. Thank you these directions were so useful I just did it and my garbage disposal is back up and running!

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

  36. 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!

  37. DIY Project Help Tips

    Brandon,
    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.
    -RR

  38. 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.

  39. 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!

  40. 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.

  41. DIY Project Help Tips

    Gayle,
    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?
    -RR

  42. 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!

  43. DIY Project Help Tips

    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.
    -RR

  44. 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.

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

  46. 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!

  47. 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.

  48. 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

  49. 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.

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

  51. 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!

  52. 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!!!

    Best,
    JS

  53. 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.

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