Where Is the Reset Button on a Garbage Disposal? Quick Guide

Where Is The Reset Button On A Garbage Disposal

Did you know that over 50% of household plumbing issues stem from garbage disposer hiccups, often requiring a plumber to fix things within minutes? When your kitchen sink becomes a pool, and that familiar hum of waste grinding halts, knowing where to find the reset button on your garbage disposer can turn panic into relief in just minutes. It’s tucked away but vital; this little red switch, an unsung hero in rebooting your day, could be the key item for your disposer. With kitchens being the heart of home activity, a jammed disposer or silent disposal unit with a red button begs for quick action.

Key Takeaways

  • Locate the reset button on your garbage disposal; typically, it’s a red button found on the bottom of the unit, which you can identify by following the guidelines in the “Identifying the Reset Button” section.
  • Before attempting a reset, ensure safety by turning off the power to your disposal, as outlined in “Preparing to Reset Your Disposal.”
  • Follow the “Step-by-Step Resetting Process” for a clear guide on how to properly reset your garbage disposal and get it back to working condition.
  • Use the “Troubleshooting Common Issues” section to address and resolve typical problems that may arise even after resetting the disposal.
  • If you encounter a jam, refer to “Clearing a Jammed Disposal” for instructions on safely removing obstructions and restoring functionality.
  • Understand the role of overload protectors in preventing damage to your disposal and learn how to handle a motor that hums without grinding by reviewing “Understanding Overload Protectors” and “Addressing Motor Hum Without Grinding.

Identifying the Reset Button

reset button on garbage disposal

Location Clues

The reset button is a key component of your garbage disposal unit, helping to spruce up its functionality. It helps in troubleshooting and getting your unit back to work. To find it, start by looking under the sink. This is where most garbage disposals are installed.

It’s common to find a red or black button on the bottom of the unit. The color makes it stand out against the metal casing, so keep an eye out for this feature. It might be tucked away, but its distinct hue should catch your attention.


When you spot the reset button, you’ll notice it’s small and round. Most often, it’s red in color which signifies caution and action—fitting for a reset function.

Some buttons may be recessed into the unit; others slightly protrude. They’re designed to contrast with their surroundings for easy identification.


Before reaching for that reset button, clear any clutter under your sink first. You want enough space to move comfortably without knocking over cleaners or bumping into pipes.

Make sure you can reach the button easily with one hand—no tools should be necessary to press it.

Preparing to Reset Your Disposal

Safety First

Before attempting to reset your garbage disposal, safety is paramount. Always ensure the power supply to the unit is disconnected. This can typically be done at the circuit breaker or by unplugging the unit if it has a cord. This step prevents accidental activation while you work.

Never place your hands inside the disposal unit. Even with power off, sharp blades pose a serious risk of injury. If you need to remove any obstruction, consider using pliers or tongs instead of your fingers. For extra protection, wear protective gloves when working near the disposal’s interior.

Necessary Tools

Having the right tools on hand simplifies resetting your garbage disposal and reduces frustration during this task:

  • A flashlight will help illuminate dark spaces under the sink.
  • Use a non-conductive stick, like a wooden spoon handle, to press the reset button safely.
  • In tight spaces where visibility is limited, employ a small mirror to locate and reach the reset button without having to contort yourself awkwardly.

Remember that these tools are not only helpful but also contribute further towards maintaining safety during maintenance tasks involving electrical appliances such as disposals.

Step-by-Step Resetting Process

Power Down

Before resetting your garbage disposal, ensure it’s off. Turn off the switch to stop power flow. Next, unplug the unit from its electrical outlet. This is crucial for safety. To be certain there’s no current, use a voltage tester.

Safety comes first when dealing with appliances. By ensuring the disposal is powered down properly, you avoid potential hazards such as electrical shock or damage to the system.

Pressing Reset

Find the reset button on your garbage disposal unit. It’s usually red and located at the bottom of the unit. Apply firm pressure to this button until you hear a click sound; that means it has engaged properly.

Sometimes, pressing once may not suffice – don’t hesitate to try multiple times if necessary. The reset process can be fickle and might require persistence before achieving success.

Power Up

After successfully engaging the reset button, restore power by switching on and plugging in your garbage disposal again. Now comes testing time: turn on water and start up your disposal to check for normal operation.

Listen carefully for proper motor function without unusual noises which could indicate unresolved issues within the system.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

No Power

After attempting the step-by-step resetting process, if your garbage disposal still has no power, it’s time to troubleshoot. First, check your home’s circuit breaker or fuse box. It may have tripped and cut off power to the disposal unit.

Next, inspect nearby outlets for a tripped GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter). These safety devices can shut off power when they detect an imbalance. Simply press the reset button on the outlet to restore power.

Lastly, consider if there is a larger issue at play like a power outage in your area. If other appliances are also out of service, this could be the case.

Persistent Humming

A humming sound from your garbage disposal usually signals a jam or overload inside the unit. The step-by-step reset might not resolve this issue alone. Instead, you’ll need additional troubleshooting steps such as manually turning the blades or clearing debris.

If pressing the reset button doesn’t stop the humming noise, avoid running it further as this could damage the motor. Look for visible obstructions and remove them carefully using pliers but never place hands inside a disposal unit.

Overload Protection

The reset button functions similarly to a circuit breaker specifically designed for your garbage disposal. Its main role is to act as an overload protection mechanism that prevents motor burnout by shutting down during potential hazards like jams or surges of electricity.

This feature trips automatically whenever there’s excessive load on its system which indicates trouble within its operation mechanisms requiring attention beyond just hitting restart.

Clearing a Jammed Disposal

Power Off

Safety is key when fixing a jammed garbage disposal. Always turn off the power before you start. This means flipping the switch to the OFF position and unplugging it from the socket. To be extra safe, you can even turn off the circuit breaker that controls the disposal.

After shutting down power, double-check everything is off. You should never feel any vibrations or hear any noises coming from the unit once it’s properly shut down.

Manual Rotation

Sometimes, all your disposal needs is a little nudge to get back in action. For this, use an Allen wrench on its center shaft found underneath. Insert it into the slot and gently rotate back and forth.

By doing this manually, you can often free up whatever’s causing your disposal to jam without needing professional help. Make sure that after rotating, everything moves smoothly again before restoring power.

Remove Obstructions

If manual rotation didn’t solve it, there might be something blocking your disposal’s path. Use tools like tongs or pliers to remove debris; these are much safer than using hands directly inside.

Once obstructions are out of way ensure nothing else blocks impellers’ movement by checking their path is clear for operation again.

Addressing Motor Hum Without Grinding

Identify Cause

When your garbage disposal hums but doesn’t grind, it’s a sign. The reset button may need pressing. But first, find out why.

Look for misuse patterns or jamming items. Did you put hard items down? These can stop the blades and cause problems. Think about what went in before the issue started.

Check for things that shouldn’t be there. Metal, plastic, or fibrous food like celery can cause jams. Remove these to prevent future issues.

Understanding Overload Protectors


The reset button on a garbage disposal is more than just a small red switch. It’s a safety feature designed to protect both you and the appliance. When the motor inside your disposal works too hard or encounters something it can’t grind, it may overheat or jam. This is where the reset button comes into play.

By recognizing when the disposal needs user intervention, this button helps prevent damage to the motor by automatically shutting off power. Think of it as your disposal’s way of saying “I need a break.” Without this feature, continued operation could lead to costly repairs or even replacement.


Understanding how this little red button works with your garbage disposal’s electrical system is key for maintaining its longevity. The mechanism behind it is quite ingenious yet simple: when too much strain occurs, an internal breaker trips, cutting off electricity to avoid overheating.

Knowing that hitting this reset button can bring your unit back from the brink of mechanical failure offers peace of mind. It acts as a first line of defense against issues that might otherwise go unnoticed until they become serious problems.

Preventing Future Jams

Best Practices

Regular maintenance of your garbage disposal is key. Inspect and clean it often to keep it running smoothly. This helps you spot any issues before they worsen.

Avoid filling the unit too much, especially with hard objects. These can cause jams or damage. Instead, be mindful of how much waste goes in at once.

Remember to run cold water during and after grinding waste. This practice ensures that everything is flushed through the pipes properly.

Do’s and Don’ts

When using your garbage disposal, size matters. Cut large items into smaller chunks before disposing of them. This simple step can prevent clogs and extend the life of your unit.

If you find yourself hitting the reset button often, take note; this could signal a bigger problem that needs professional attention.

Always use cold water when grinding up greasy foods. The cold temperature solidifies fats and grease, making them easier to break down without sticking to your pipes.

When to Seek Professional Help

Recognizing Limits

Knowing when a problem with your garbage disposal is beyond a simple reset is crucial. If pressing the reset button does not fix the issue, there could be deeper problems. Look for signs like persistent noises, failure to power on, or an unresponsive motor after resetting. These can indicate serious issues such as motor failure or electrical faults.

If you encounter these signs, it’s time to acknowledge that professional help may be needed. Attempting repairs beyond your skill level can lead to further damage or even personal injury.

Finding Expertise

Once you’ve determined that expert assistance is necessary, start by consulting the user manual of your garbage disposal. It often contains support numbers and troubleshooting advice tailored for your model. This should be your first resource for manufacturer-specific guidance.

For more complex issues, seek out a licensed plumber who has experience with garbage disposals. They have the tools and knowledge to safely diagnose and repair intricate problems.

You can also utilize online resources for additional troubleshooting tips before calling in a professional. These platforms offer step-by-step guides and may provide solutions that are not covered in the manual:

  1. Manufacturer websites
  2. Home repair forums
  3. DIY plumbing videos

Remember, if ever in doubt about tackling an issue yourself, opting for professional expertise is always the safer choice.

Final Remarks

You’ve got the lowdown on resetting your garbage disposal—where that elusive button hides, how to safely prep for the reset, and the nitty-gritty of clearing jams. It’s like having a secret weapon in your kitchen arsenal. We’ve also touched on when it’s time to wave the white flag and call in the pros. Keep in mind, regular maintenance can save you from a world of hassle down the line. So, keep those blades spinning without a hitch and remember, your disposal’s got your back as long as you’ve got its reset button.

Now that you’re practically a disposal whisperer, why not share the wisdom? Hit up your pals, drop some knowledge bombs at your next dinner party, or simply pat yourself on the back for leveling up your DIY skills. And hey, if you ever hit another snag, swing by here—we’re always dishing out fresh tips to keep your home humming.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the reset button on my garbage disposal?

The reset button is typically a red or black square button located on the bottom of the garbage disposal unit.

How do I prepare to reset my garbage disposal?

Before resetting, ensure the power is off. Then locate the reset button and clear any obstructions from the sink and disposal.

What are the steps to reset a garbage disposal?

First, turn off power. Press the reset button firmly. Turn power back on, and test if it’s working by running water and flipping the switch.

What should I do if my garbage disposal won’t start after pressing reset?

Check for jams or overloads, ensure it’s plugged in properly, and look for tripped circuit breakers before seeking professional help.

How can I clear a jammed garbage disposal?

Turn off power, use an Allen wrench at bottom center to manually turn blades. Remove debris with pliers (not hands) once movement is free.

Why does my motor hum but not grind?

A humming sound without grinding often indicates a jam. Cut power off and attempt to manually rotate blades using an Allen wrench from below.

What are overload protectors on a garbage disposal?

Overload protectors are built-in safety features that shut down your unit when it overheats or has too much load to prevent damage.

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