What to Do When Your Garbage Disposal Is Broken: Can You Still Use Your Sink?

26October 2023


What to Do When Your Garbage Disposal Is Broken: Can You Still Use Your Sink?


Nothing disrupts the flow of a well-functioning kitchen like a broken garbage disposal. You’re left wondering what to do next, especially if you’ve got a sink full of dishes waiting to be washed. The most immediate question many homeowners ask is: “Can I still use my sink?” This blog post aims to answer that question, as well as provide some helpful tips for getting your garbage disposal back in working order.

Can I Use My Sink if the Garbage Disposal is Broken?

Short Answer: Yes, but with Caution

In most cases, you can still use your sink even when the garbage disposal isn’t working, but you’ll need to be careful. Running water should be fine, but you’ll want to avoid letting food scraps or other debris go down the drain, as they could cause further issues.

What to Watch Out For

  • Clogs: Without a working disposal, the chances of a clog forming increase. Make sure to use a sink strainer to catch any debris.
  • Odor: Food scraps that might usually be ground up could start to decay, leading to unpleasant smells.
  • Backups: If your sink and disposal share a drain, be wary of backups. Use the sink sparingly until the disposal is fixed.

Immediate Steps to Take

  1. Turn Off the Electrical Circuit: Safety first. Make sure the disposal is turned off at the circuit breaker before attempting any fixes.
  2. Check for Obstructions: Sometimes a simple obstruction is causing the issue. Use tongs to remove any visible obstructions—never use your hand.
  3. Try the Reset Button: Many garbage disposals have a reset button on the bottom of the unit. Press this and try running the disposal again.

Long-Term Solutions

DIY Fixes

  • Check the Flywheel: The flywheel might be jammed. After ensuring the disposal is off, use a hex wrench to manually turn the flywheel. This can often dislodge any stuck items.
  • Inspect for Leaks: Sometimes issues with your disposal can lead to leaks. Make sure to check under the sink for any pooling water.

When to Call a Professional

If you’ve tried all the DIY fixes and your disposal is still not working, it’s time to call in the pros. In some cases, you may need a full replacement, especially if your disposal is older and has seen better days.


A broken garbage disposal can be disruptive, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop using your sink altogether.

With some careful use and a bit of troubleshooting, you’ll often find that the situation is more manageable than it first appeared.

And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.