How Do I Reset a Garbage Disposal?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 17 April 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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It typically is not very difficult to reset a garbage disposal, but some precautions need to be taken. There is usually a reason that the garbage disposal needs to be reset, so it is a good idea to investigate for any potential issues. The first step to reset a garbage disposal is to make sure that the switch is off and then turn the power off at the circuit breaker. You can then investigate the unit thoroughly to ensure that there are no obstructions, wiring issues, or any other problems. Most garbage disposals have a small button or switch somewhere on the body of the unit that can be pressed to reset it, and you may locate and use it once you have taken all necessary precautions.

When a garbage disposal stops working, the first step is to turn off the switch if it is equipped with one. Some disposals are activated by air or other methods, in which case this step may be skipped. It can then be a good idea to shut the power off at the circuit breaker to ensure you don't get injured while investigating the problem. After the power is off, you can use a flashlight to look inside the sink drain for foreign objects. Before you reset a garbage disposal, any obstructions need to be removed.


Even with the power off, it is a good idea to never put your hand inside a garbage disposal. You may cut your fingers if you do so, and there is always the chance of someone accidentally turning the power back on. Tongs are one common kitchen utensil that can be helpful in removing obstructions from a disposal. If you don't have tongs, you can attempt to use other utensils so long as you are careful not to drop them in as well.

It is typically safe to reset a garbage disposal after any foreign objects have been removed, but you may want to investigate for other problems first. You can use a flashlight to look under your counter for any frayed wiring or other obvious issues. These types of problems can be quite serious, so you may want to contact an electrician if you lack the necessary experience. If everything looks fine, you can turn the power back on at the circuit breaker.

The next step to reset a garbage disposal is to locate the switch on the unit itself. Most disposals have reset switches, and they are often located on the bottom side of the unit. Pressing the switch should reset the breaker, after which you can attempt to turn the disposal on. If the disposal activates, you have successfully fixed the problem. Otherwise, there is probably some other internal issue that will need to be addressed.



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