How to Reset a Garbage Disposal in a Minute

Garbage disposals have a reset button which trips and turns off power supply to the motor when there is a power surge, if it runs for a long time, when the motor overheats, when it clogs or basically when there is something wrong with the disposal.

A garbage disposal reset button (overload protector button) is located on the bottom or lower back side of the garbage disposal. It’s usually a red square button. In case of unsafe conditions, the reset button pops out cutting off power supply to the garbage disposal.


When your garbage disposal won’t turn on, most of the time it is caused by a tripped reset button. Sometimes the problem could also be caused by an electrical plug that is not properly plugged in, meaning the unit is not receiving power.

To reset a garbage disposal, unplug it from power then locate the reset button on the bottom or lower back side of the disposal. Press in the reset button and turn on a cold stream of water. Plug it in and flip on the switch. If the reset button won’t stay in, wait for ten minutes for the motor to cool down.

Resetting a garbage disposal is easy. The one challenge you will have however is to determine why it tripped in the first place, and what you can do to ensure that it doesn’t trip again.

When your garbage disposal just hums, it means that the motor is receiving power but the blades are not spinning. This is usually caused by a clog inside the garbage disposal or a foreign object like a spoon which impedes the movement of the blades.

To reset a garbage disposal without a reset button, turn off and unplug it from the switch. Check if the circuit breaker at the main electrical panel has tripped. Insert the garbage disposal wrench in the hole underneath it and manually spin the blades. Plug it in and see if it runs.

How to Reset a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are installed under the kitchen sink just below the drain opening, an area that is always receiving constant supply of water. As you already know, these units are powered by electricity but electricity and water don’t like each other that much.

That is why disposals come with a reset button. Apart from electrical shock, reset buttons cuts off power to your garbage disposal if it is clogged and just hums or when it has been running for a long time, which causes the motor to overheat.

Here is to reset a garbage disposal:

1. Unplug the Garbage disposal

Turning off the garbage disposal is not enough. You need to unplug it from the switch. This makes it safe to troubleshoot the unit, ensuring that there is no risk of electrical shock.

2. Locate the Reset Button

A garbage disposal reset button will be located on the bottom of the unit or lower back side. It is usually a red square button. If it has tripped, it will have popped out by about a ¼-inch.

If the bottom of your garbage disposal is very close to the floor, you may need to use a small mirror to help you locate the reset button. Just place the mirror under the unit and make sure you have sufficient light get a good reflection.

3. Press in the Reset Button

After locating the rest button, you will only need to gently press it in and it will click as a confirmation that it has been reset.

If the reset button will not stay in and pops out immediately, wait for about 10 minutes then try again. This is especially the case if the button tripped due to the motor running for a long time. After the motor has sufficiently cooled down, try to press the reset button again.

4. Test the Garbage Disposal

Before plugging the garbage disposal right back in the power outlet, turn on a stream of cold water. Plug it in and flip the switch to the “ON” position. It should run as usually after resetting it.

If the garbage disposal button will not stay in after pressing it or it keeps tripping, there is definitely a problem that you or your plumber need to fix. Alternatively, you can decide to replace it especially if it is more than 10 years old.

How Do You Reset a Garbage Disposal Without a Reset Button?

If in the unlikely event that your garbage disposal does not have a reset button or when the reset button will just not stay in, there is still something you can do to fix it.

The first thing is to check if the garbage disposal switch is receiving power (or working). To do this, unplug the garbage disposal and plug in another appliance. If it runs, the switch is ok, if it doesn’t that is one potential cause of the problem.

Dash to your main electrical panel and check the status of the circuit breaker dedicated to the garbage disposal. If it has tripped, flip it back to the “On” position.

Go back to the kitchen and plug in the garbage disposal. Check if it runs smoothly after turning it on.

If the garbage disposal will still not reset, try to manually spin the blades. Here is how:

  • Unplug the garbage disposal.
  • Insert the garbage disposal wrench (came with it while new) in the hole at the center of the bottom of the garbage disposal. Rotate the blades clockwise and counterclockwise to completely free them up.
  • If you do not have the garbage disposal wrench, you can use a ¼-inch hex wrench instead.
  • Alternatively, grab a piece of wood or drain plunger and stick it inside the garbage disposal. Push the wooden handle against the grinding wall until it starts to rotate.
  • Turn on the cold water and plug in the garbage disposal.
  • Check if it will start to run well again.

What Does It Mean When Your Garbage Disposal Just Hums

If your garbage disposal is not spinning but just hums, it is a sign that it is being supplied with power but the blades are not turning. This is usually caused by a clog or foreign objects like knifes, spoons, folks and even jewelry.

  • The first thing you should do is turn off power to the garbage disposal and unplug it from the electrical outlet.
  • Grab a flashlight and inspect the inside of the garbage disposal for anything that should not be there.
  • If you see anything, pull it out with a pair of tongs.
  • Use the garbage disposal wrench or a piece of wood to manually spin the blades.
  • Push in the reset button.
  • Plug in the garbage disposal and check if it runs well again

Sometimes you will find that your garbage disposal is not spinning and is hence not draining because it is clogged. In that case, you will first need to unclog it before resetting it. Check out how to unclog a garbage disposal in this post.

And basically that is how to reset a garbage disposal. I hope this guide was helpful.

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