How to repair a garbage disposal

Garbage Disposals - Plumbing Repair in PhiladelphiaOccasionally at iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains we get a phone call for a garbage disposal repair from a Philadelphia resident; once we determine the problem and repair the garbage disposal quickly: the response is “What? That was all? I could’ve done that myself!” It is true that there are many things that the average homeowner can do to troubleshoot and repair a garbage disposal. This article will cover an understanding of garbage disposal function, troubleshooting and do-it-yourself repair that anyone could do instead of contacting a master certified plumber. There are some repairs that will require the services of iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains; we will cover a few of those as well.

How does a garbage disposal work?

A garbage disposal is a machine that essentially is an electric motor that will incinerate or liquefy food through the process of friction/agitation. As the electric motor spins, centrifugal force will push the food material against an aggregated ring (called a shredder) on top of an impeller plate. Mounted to the impeller plate are two lugs that assist in moving the larger food material against the shredder ring. Mixed with water, this allows the final product to be minced into small particles that will escape through the holes of the impeller plate out and through the plumbing system of your Philadelphia home. As complicated as that may sound, it happens very quickly; this violent process is contained within the hopper by a rubber flange that keeps the water and particles from flying back up through the sink.

NOTE: Some garbage disposals will not function without the appropriate stopper plug being placed into the opening as a safety precaution.

If you’re garbage disposals stops working in your Philadelphia home there are several lines of diagnosis to follow that we will outline in this article:

Steps to follow if my garbage disposal is not working:

Garbage Disposal Reset - Plumbing Repair in PhiladelphiaCondition 1: No Power

Problem: When I flip the power switch, mounted on the wall a few feet from the sink, nothing happens.

Do-it-yourself diagnosis and repair: First, check the reset switch at the bottom of the garbage disposal unit. Most modern garbage disposals, less than 10 years old, have a safety switch that will trip if the unit becomes overloaded, overheated or experiences an internal short. If you see that it is tripped, reset it and try again.

Second, look to see if the power breaker has tripped. (Many kitchens in Philadelphia do not have a separate breaker for the garbage disposal, so if that breaker is tripped, then other outlets in your kitchen probably will not work as well.)

If either of these conditions are present, hitting the reset button or resetting the breaker should correct the problem; however, if this becomes repetitious then there might be a problem with the electric motor of the garbage disposal. An internal problem might be causing the garbage disposal to overheat prematurely; setting these safety defaults in motion. If this occurs or neither of these resets worked; you should contact iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains for further diagnosis and repair.

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Condition 2: Garbage disposal motor is not turning

Problem: When I turn on the garbage disposal there is a deadening humming noise but it does not appear to be spinning inside.

Do-it-yourself diagnosis and repair: The most likely cause for this is something jamming the impeller. The next steps should be followed very cautiously!

Turn off the power to the garbage disposal. This is very important as one of the steps is for you to feel inside the hopper, if you feel that someone may accidentally turn on the garbage disposal while your hand is inside you should trip the breaker before you begin.

Garbage Disposal Wrench - Plumbing Service in PhiladelphiaUse the supplied Allen wrench that came with your garbage disposal. Insert the Allen wrench in the bottom-center of the unit and turn it back and forth until you feel the motor it break free and turn freely. If you do not have an Allen wrench you can purchase one from a home improvement store for around $6.00.

If using an Allen wrench does not work, reach your hand into the hopper to see if you feel something that might be jamming the impeller such as a chicken bone or even an unintended item such as a fork. Attempt to remove the item.

If neither of these two processes free up the motor, contact iFixdit, LLC  -Plumbing and Drains for further diagnosis and repair. Many articles and videos online will show you how to use blunt force inside the hopper to break the motor free, we do not recommend this for the average do-it-yourselfer. Because the items inside of your garbage disposal of your Philadelphia home are made from thin plate steel and aluminum, additional damage can easily occur that would force the replacement of your garbage disposal.

Garbage Disposal repair - Plumbing Service in PhiladelphiaWhat causes a garbage disposal to fail?

  • Age and use are the most common reasons why a garbage disposal may fail but there are some other common things that we see in the Philadelphia area as well.

  • Placing fibrous materials consistently into your garbage disposal can jam the unit over a period of time. Foods such as celery are essentially a group of fibrous strings that are difficult for any garbage disposal to handle.

  • Lack of cleaning. At least once every three months you should clean and sterilize your garbage disposal. Garbage disposal cleaning pellets can be purchased at a number of retailers including Walmart.

  • Misuse. You would be amazed how many service calls that iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains sees in the Philadelphia area for garbage disposals that have been damaged due to misuse. A garbage disposal is designed to mince food and small particles; it is not designed to mince bones, fruit and vegetable peels, metal, wood, fiberboard, plastic, etc..

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Trust your Local Experts

In the Philadelphia area, trust iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains as your local expert for all of your plumbing needs. For years our reputation has been developed due to our high level of customer service combined with extraordinary plumbing experience. We back that up by making sure that our plumbing service company here in Philadelphia has all the proper licenses and insuranc necessary to protect your investment as well as our reputation. When you contact iFixdit, LLC you will get a licensed plumber on every single repair visit, we do not farm out our repairs to trainees; but rather take steps to make sure that your plumbing needs are taken care of by qualified, licensed professionals.

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Why do the water pipes vibrate in my Philadelphia home?

Water Pipes - Master Plumber in Philadelphia

Depending on the age of your home in Philadelphia you may have heard a loud vibration coming from the water pipes. Doesn’t matter the size of the house, this is a typical occurrence that can be caused by a series of different conditions; all are easily repairable with a little know-how. The cause for your water pipes to vibrate in your Philadelphia home is a direct correlation to the type of repair needed to correct the problem. Simply put, there are several reasons why your pipes would vibrate. In this article we will cover a few of the most common ones as well as the Avenue of repair that would be recommended:

What causes the water pipes to vibrate?

Loose Water Pipes

For many Philadelphia homes you will find that the water pipes are exposed to the basement, this would also be true for an apartment complexes well. With many of these exposed pipes running to various faucets and toilets throughout the home a loose pipe can begin to rattle causing a metallic pinging noise. Older Philadelphia homes and apartments that utilize water radiators will have this noise amplified as the sound travels throughout the piping.

Resolution: (you will need two people) Have one person flushed the toilet or turn on the faucet at the furthest point from the water source. Next have someone, starting in the basement, listen for the pipe that’s vibrating. If you can hear or feel the noise in the basement but not actually locate the exact center of the vibration keep trying. Go from room to room until you find where the noise is the loudest. If it turns out that the vibrating pipe is behind a wall it may in fact be the quietest part of the sound as this is also the lowest point of vibration. As the vibration travels it also can be amplified so make sure you are 100% sure before you start tearing into walls. If the vibration because of a loose pipe is not immediately apparent, be sure to contact your professional plumber at iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains to narrow down the vibration prior to cutting into a wall. If you should locate the vibrating pipe then simply use a pipe clamp to secure it to one of the floor joists.

Pipe Resignation

Pipe resignation is caused in larger Philadelphia homes when the quantity of metal pipes is great enough to cause a light vibration due to a harmonic signature that is produced.

Resolution: Add additional pipe clamps and most important, insulated sleeves throughout the exposed pipes.

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Sink Faucet - Master Plumber in PhiladelphiaWater Pressure Too High

As this great city of Philadelphia continues to grow, public works improvements are always looking for innovative ways to increase water pressure, flow density and conservation efforts within the city. As a result there are areas in Philadelphia that have really good water pressure. While this is a great thing when taking a shower, it can also cause a vibration in the pipes especially in homes that have not had an upgrade to the plumbing. The incoming water pressure should be between 40 and 60 pounds per square inch (PSI); naturally water pressure that is higher can create a vibration, a licensed, professional plumber can hook up a series of pressure gauges to determine if this is the problem.

Resolution: a licensed plumber such as the professionals at iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains in Philadelphia can install a pressure reduction valve on the incoming water line to correct the problem. It may be also a good time to consider upgrading the water pipes in your Philadelphia home.

Water Hammer

Older Toilet - Master Plumber in Philadelphia

The water hammer effect is a common occurrence where fast closing valves (found in toilets fill valves and faucets) shut off too quickly. The sudden stop of water causes a “hammer” effect. Depending on how high the fast shut off valve is in the Philadelphia home, the sound can be quite loud and heard throughout the entire plumbing system.

Resolution: There are several ways to resolve a water hammer effect. First would be to replace those toilet fill valves and faucets that are causing the problem. Most high-end toilet fill valves and faucets sold today have this technology built-in; however, box store economy fixtures often will not.

Having a professional plumber such as the professionals at iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains in Philadelphia can install an arrestor valve in the affected areas of the home.

NOTE: If the water hammer effect has been going on for some time in your Philadelphia home it can create a buildup of water within air chambers installed within the plumbing system; this will cause a steady increase of the effect as well as cause damage to the system as a whole. (Especially in multiple story homes) Air chambers are designed to help cushion against the water hammer effect in larger homes but can fill up with water over time, needing to be drained in order to be effective again.

The procedure for doing this is fairly simple:

  • Shut off the main water valve
  • Open up all faucets, bathtub spigots and flush the toilets starting at the highest level of the home (farthest from the main water line) until all faucets have been open and drained.
  • After all faucets have been completely drained to where there is no water running, close all of the fixtures, this time starting at the bottom and working your way up.
  • Turn the main water line back on.
  • Starting again at the very top (furthest away from the main water line) turn on all the faucets, bathtub spigots and flush all the toilets one at a time allowing it to run for a few seconds.

Master Plumber Services Available

The master plumbers at iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains are familiar with the common plumbing concerns that are experienced in Philadelphia. Whether you own your home or live in an apartment building/complex; diagnosing plumbing can be frustrating, and at times, expensive. We have met many residents over the years that have spent hundreds of dollars in diagnostic equipment and unnecessary replacement of fixtures as a “do-it-your-selfer” only to find that they’ve needed to call a professional plumber after all. Save the headache by allowing iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains to diagnose your plumbing concern saving you both time and money.

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