The garbage disposal has become a staple for many kitchens.
It helps break down food debris and keep your plumbing system healthy.
However, garbage disposals have their share of malfunctions.
One problem is when the garbage disposal doesn’t turn off.
We’ll help you figure out the possible reasons your garbage disposal won’t turn off and how to fix those problems.
Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn Off (13 Possible Causes, Fixes)
There are a few reasons your garbage disposal won’t turn off.
Here are those reasons and the steps you need to take to fix the problem.
1. You Forgot To Turn Off The Garbage Disposal
Sometimes you may forget to turn the unit off.
To activate the disposal, either a switch is flipped or a button is pressed.
While it’s running, you may run off to do other errands.
When you return, you realize the disposal is still running.
With everything else going on in a busy household, it’s easy to forget that you didn’t flip back the switch.
Fix: Flip the Switch or Press the Button
The solution to this problem is simple.
Push the button or flip the switch to turn your garbage disposal off.
If your garbage disposal is working right, then it will turn off immediately.
2. The Garbage Disposal Is Plugged Into the Wrong Outlet
An outlet with two ports has one that is always on and another that uses a switch.
The garbage disposal may be plugged into the active port.
Whether you switch the button or not, the disposal will always operate.
Many homeowners don’t realize that some of their double outlets have an active port.
Unless you plug something mechanical in it or take a voltage reading, then you’ll assume the outlet isn’t active.
Fix: Use The Other Outlet Port
This is another simple fix for a garbage disposal that won’t turn off.
You unplug it from its current port and plug it into the port next to it.
You can also troubleshoot the outlet to determine if it has an always-active port.
Buy a voltage meter and plug it into the outlet.
If the outlet never turns off, even after toggling the switch, then you know it’s always on.
You should also test the other port.
If it gives a voltage when the switch is turned on, then that’s normal.
If it doesn’t give a voltage when the switch is turned off, then you know you have a controlled outlet port.
Using the controlled port allows you to turn the disposal off by using the switch or button.
3. The Circuit Breaker May Need A Reset
There could also be a short in the circuit breaker that’s causing the wires to act haywire.
It can keep your garbage disposal from turning off because it’s still receiving power.
Handling circuit breakers can be complex.
If you have the budget for it, then you should hire an electrician to determine where the problem resides.
Is it in the circuit breaker itself, the specific breaker that controls the garbage disposal?
Is it the wiring that leads to the circuit breaker?
In the event of the problem stemming from the entire circuit breaker board, the problem may also affect other appliances in the house.
A quick test you can perform to determine if it’s the specific breaker for the disposal or the entire board is to check the other breakers.
Are they receiving power?
If so, then the breaker for the disposal needs replacement.
If not, then it’s time for a replacement for the entire board.
Fix: Reset The Circuit Breaker Board
There are a few steps you need to take before replacing your circuit breaker.
An electrician is the best option for handling this delicate operation.
To do it yourself, you need to first unplug the appliances.
You don’t want to risk a surge or short frying anything else.
Then turn off each individual breaker.
Once everything is off, turn off the master circuit that powers the board.
This gives the board a complete reset.
You can then see if the reset fixed the problem.
Turn the main circuit back on.
Then restore power to each breaker.
Plug the appliances back in one at a time.
Run the garbage disposal to see if it obeys the circuit.
If so, then you solved the problem.
4. Other Appliances May Be Tripping The Circuit Breaker
Too many appliances running at the same time can overload the circuit breaker.
If the breaker trips, then it cuts off power.
It can mess with the wiring and even fry appliances.
Your garbage disposal may be acting weird, like not turning off, because another appliance is tripping the circuit breaker.
Fix: Check Performance With Other Appliances
Start by turning off the power through the circuit breaker.
Turn off every breaker, then turn off the main circuit.
Then go through the house and unplug each appliance.
Then plug in one appliance
Turn the main circuit back on, then only switch on the breaker for the one specific appliance that you plugged in.
Run the appliance and the garbage disposal at the same time.
If you’re able to turn the garbage disposal off, then the appliance isn’t affecting it.
Turn that appliance off, then try another.
Go down the line until you’ve tested every appliance.
Then start seeing if any particular combination overloads it and interferes with the disposal.
The garbage disposal needs to run through every test.
If you find that running a few specific appliances keeps the disposal from turning off, then it’s because they’re overloading the circuit breaker.
You can fix the problem by only running your garbage disposal when those appliances aren’t operating.
5. The Circuit Breaker Needs Replacement
Your garbage disposal may not turn off because the circuit breaker itself is broken.
A broken circuit breaker is unable to handle the various channels of electricity running through it.
It can cause shorts, surges, and may damage any appliance connected to it.
It’s possible to replace your circuit breaker, but it should be a certified electrician who does it.
Fix: Replace The Circuit Breaker
To replace the circuit breaker, start by turning off the power to it.
Shut off each individual breaker first.
Then turn off the main circuit.
You should never trust a malfunctioning circuit breaker to be completely turned off.
Use a voltage meter to test it for power.
If it’s not giving you a reading, then you can proceed to the next step.
Disconnect any wires from the circuit breaker, making note of their exact positioning.
Then gently, but firmly, pull the breaker out of its housing.
Set it aside and insert the new breaker.
Attach the wires in the configuration they were in before.
Then turn on the main circuit and individual breakers.
Check to see if your garbage disposal turns off when you flip the switch.
If so, then the problem came from a malfunctioning circuit breaker.
6. Electrical Wire Is Malfunctioning
If the problem isn’t with the circuit breaker, then it may be the electrical wiring.
It’s possible that the wires received a short or surge during their lifespan.
As a result, it may be making the disposal malfunction.
One reason the wires may short out is that they’re old or not insulated well.
It can cause the hot wires to touch the neutral ones and send a short through them.
If your garbage disposal is constantly shorting out, then it may not turn off.
Loose wires may be another culprit.
They’re able to move at the smallest touch.
It can cause the neutral wires to touch the live wires and short out the garbage disposal.
Fix: Call An Electrician Or Replace Wiring Yourself
Handling wires is always a risky venture.
An electrician can help you.
If you want to do it yourself, then you should start by turning off the power.
Check with a voltage meter to ensure the power is off.
Then remove wires that appear broken or loose with new ones.
You may also want to add insulation to older wires.
Removing the cause for shorts can make your garbage disposal function right again.
7. The Garbage Disposal Has Faulty Wiring
Not all products leave the factory floor in perfect condition.
Some have defects.
That may be the case with your garbage disposal.
The wiring inside of it could have received damage from somewhere.
It’s also possible that the wiring received damage from your home.
When an appliance plugs into an outlet, the wires inside of it become part of the circuit.
A surge from the home can fry the wires and electronics inside of an appliance.
The wires could have received damage from rough handling during the installation process as well.
Fix: Open Disposal And Inspect Wiring, Then Replace Them
Unplug your disposal from the outlet.
Then use a voltage meter to ensure it’s not receiving power.
Remove the disposal from the sink and take it apart to access the wiring.
Check for signs of damage.
The wires should all connect to one another and form a closed circuit.
If there’s one that’s cut or loose, then it could be making the disposal malfunction.
You can either choose to replace the wiring or buy a new disposal.
Often, it’s cheaper to replace the disposal than to repair it.
If you’re familiar with appliance wiring, then you can fix the disposal yourself.
Once the wires are correct, then it should turn off.
8. Batch Feed Garbage Disposal Has A Clog
Batch feed garbage disposals only operate when the cover is on the drain.
If your batch feed garbage disposal won’t turn off, then it’s because something is triggering it to stay on.
In most cases, the problem is a clog or smeared debris.
The debris can block its sensors and make it think that the cover is on.
As a result, the disposal continues to operate.
Fix: Clean The Batch Feed Disposal’s Drain And Cover
The best way to fix a batch feed disposal is to clean it.
Remove the clog or debris that is causing the problem.
Before you start to clean, you need to unplug the disposal.
Then check that it isn’t receiving power.
You can safely clean the disposal at this point.
Once the disposal is clean, putting the cover on will activate the garbage disposal.
When the cover is off, the disposal will turn off.
9. Reset Button Trips
Every garbage disposal has a reset button.
Whenever the disposal starts to malfunction, the reset button can correct it.
Sometimes the reset button itself could be the problem.
It may trip or think the disposal is malfunctioning and keep it from running the right way.
Fix: Press The Reset Button
When the disposal starts to malfunction, the best thing you can do is reset it.
The reset button is at the base of the disposal.
Push the button to refresh the garbage disposal.
It can clear any problems the disposal is facing and allow it to operate correctly.
10. Inner Flywheel Is Jammed
A serious problem that can ruin your garbage disposal is if the inner flywheel becomes jammed.
When the inner flywheel jams, it can keep the disposal from turning off.
The disposal is trying to remove the jam on its own.
Unfortunately, it can make the disposal burn itself out.
It may even cause a short in the circuit breaker.
You need to fix the problem fast to protect the disposal.
Fix: Unclog The Inner Flywheel
Unplug the disposal and remove it from your sink.
You can use either the handle of a wooden spoon or an Allen wrench.
With the Allen wrench, insert it through the bottom of the disposal.
Turn the flywheel clockwise until the blades cut through the debris.
You may need to push the flywheel back and forth to cut through the clog.
With a wooden spoon, insert the handle through the drain opening.
Use the handle to turn the flywheel in the clockwise direction.
Move it back and forth until the clog is gone.
Run water through the disposal to remove remnants of the debris.
With the inner flywheel no longer clogged, it can operate normally.
11. Micro-Switch Is Malfunctioning
Some garbage disposals use a micro-switch that operates the plunger.
If the switch isn’t operating, then it can’t tell the disposal to shut off.
Micro-switch malfunctions when it’s covered in debris or receives damage.
Fix: Clean The Micro-Switch
You’ll need to unplug your disposal and take it apart to locate the micro-switch.
It will be near the plunger.
Clean the micro-switch and remove any debris that’s covering it.
If the garbage disposal is still malfunctioning, then you need to replace the micro-switch with a new one.
12. Start Switch Is Shorting
Disposals like a batch feed garbage disposal contain a start switch.
If the switch makes contact with water, debris, or power surges, then it can short out.
The short may damage the disposal and cause it to malfunction like not turning off.
Fix: Test And Replace The Start Switch
You’re able to remove the start switch in a batch feed garbage disposal.
Once it’s removed, test it with a multimeter.
You’re looking to see if the switch is continuous.
If it is, then it’s keeping the disposal on the entire time.
You can replace the start switch with a new one that doesn’t give a continuous loop.
13. Reset Button Is Being Blocked
If the reset button on the garbage disposal is being blocked, then it may keep refreshing the disposal.
As a result, the disposal stays on.
Fixing the problem is easy.
Fix: Remove Obstruction
To remove an obstruction that’s interfering with the reset button, you’ll need a pair of long pliers.
Insert the pliers through the drain hole.
Then search for the obstruction.
Remove it through the drain hole and rinse the disposal.
Press the reset button once more to refresh it.
Without the obstruction pressing on the reset button, the disposal will turn off.
There are several reasons the garbage disposal may not turn off.
The problems stem from mechanical, electrical, and even basic human error.
Understanding what’s causing the problem can help ensure you don’t face the same problem in the future.
Use the fixes described above to troubleshoot your garbage disposal.
Hire an electrician to take care of electrical problems.
Otherwise, buy a new garbage disposal.