Garbage Disposal Tripping Your Breaker? You’re Not Alone!

Is your garbage disposal tripping your breaker, and it’s got you really confused?

Welcome to the club! This might be hard to believe, but thousands of people face this issue daily and are left scratching their heads.

I know that experiencing such problems with an appliance that’s supposed to be convenient can be really frustrating. Especially when you can’t understand what’s causing the situation.

But don’t worry, you came to the right place for answers. Below, I’ve prepared a small list including 3 common causes behind this issue, and some easy ways to address them.

When your garbage disposal is tripping your breakers, try changing the food you’re throwing into it, replacing the motor, or calling an electrician to check your home’s wiring.

Before we get started, one quick tip to try is looking to see if the garbage disposal has a red reset button. Some models do have this, and holding it down for a few seconds could help clear a malfunction.

Keep reading to keep your breakers from tripping!

#1 Change the Food You’re Shredding

Let’s start off by discussing what kind of food you’re throwing into your garbage disposal. I know that common sense dictates that a large appliance with sharp blades and a powerful motor should be able to shred any kind of food. But sadly, this is not the case.

In fact, stringy vegetables, and pasta could get stuck on the appliance’s blades and cause excessive strain on the motor.

A bunch of celery sticks
Some foods are best thrown directly in the bin

This might not be an issue immediately. But as time passes, the unit could be overworked, which could explain why your garbage disposal trips your breakers so often.

Solution: Take a closer look at what you throw into your kitchen sink. There are some foods that should never go into your garbage disposal, especially hard foods that can cause it to bang or vibrate, so avoiding them can extend your appliance’s lifespan.

Moreover, disposing of the wrong foods can also contribute to a sewage smell coming from the sink, as residue can get stuck and rot after a while.

#2 Replace the Motor

Sometimes, there might already be something wrong with your appliance’s motor. As mentioned above, this can either be due to throwing the wrong kind of food down the sink or due to normal wear and tear after years of use.

Garbage disposal motors and blades are made to last, especially if you buy a model from a reputable brand. However, while the materials are sturdy, they’re certainly not indestructible and will wear out eventually.

A plumber checking a garbage disposal unit
Replacing a suspicious garbage disposal is simple, but if you don’t feel up to the task, it’s better to call a professional

If your motor is failing or working too hard to shred your food, it would explain why your garbage disposal is tripping your breakers.

Solution: Here are some simple steps to replace your appliance:

  1. Make sure the appliance’s switch is turned off to prevent accidents. If possible, kill the power to your kitchen directly from your breaker.
  2. Disconnect the drain pipe.
  3. Disconnect the drain hose.
  4. Once everything’s been disconnected, rotate the collar connecting the appliance to your sink in a counterclockwise motion. This should loosen the unit enough to carefully remove it.
  5. After removing the old unit, look at the bottom part of it. You’ll see a small access panel held in place by some screws.
  6. Remove it to expose the power cord cables that supply electricity.
  7. You should typically see three wires, one that’s black, one that’s white, and one that’s green (ground). They should all be connected to other wires within the appliance. I suggest using a marker to know which cable goes with the black wire, and which one goes with the white one.
  8. Carefully disconnect all wires and remove the power cord from the old unit when you’re done (if there’s a cable clamp holding it in place, you can usually remove it with a pair of pliers).
  9. Insert the power cord and the cables through the clamp in the new unit, connect the black, white, and green wires where they belong, and then clamp the power cord back down.
  10. Once you’ve taken care of the wiring, you can now install the new garbage disposal unit. Reconnect it to your sink with the collar, and reconnect the pipes.
  11. Test to see whether the appliance works normally. If it doesn’t trip your breakers anymore, you’re good to go.

I know trying this for the first time might be intimidating, but it’s much simpler than you think. That being said, if you don’t feel confident enough to try this on your own yet, there’s no shame in calling a professional plumber for help.

You can still learn by watching them at work, so that next time you can take care of everything.

#3 Call an Electrician

Finally, let’s cover one last possibility.

Although it’s not very common, there’s a chance that the reason your garbage disposal is tripping your breakers is a problem with your home’s wiring. This could manifest itself in several ways, such as noticing that, in addition to your appliance, wall outlets are also causing this situation.

A home's wiring hub
Sometimes, the problem might be much more severe than just a bad garbage disposal unit

As you may know, houses these days have to be built under strict codes and regulations. These not only encompass piping and structural materials but also electrical wiring. The main purpose behind this is to prevent fires and issues like the one you’re experiencing.

And while I’m not saying your residence was built improperly, there’s always the possibility that certain external factors might be responsible for damage to your electrical layout over the years.

Solution: In cases like these, you’ll want to call a professional electrician and explain the issue to them. It’s of the utmost importance that you mention that you already replaced the garbage disposal. This will help them rule the appliance out as a potential culprit.

Now, I won’t lie. Having an expert diagnose and repair anything that might be wrong with your home’s wiring will likely be expensive. But at the end of the day, it’ll be worth it.


That about covers it.

When your garbage disposal is tripping your breakers, keeping your kitchen clean and working as you’d like can be a real challenge.

Luckily, I hope this piece has helped you see that, in most cases, all you have to do to get things back to normal is diagnose and replace the appliance if necessary, and avoid throwing stringy foods down the sink.

Thank you very much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If this article proved to be interesting and helpful, please check out our other wonderful resources below to keep the learning going.

On the site, you’ll find all sorts of solutions for daily appliance issues, such as a slow cooker that’s smelling weird, or a dishwasher that won’t turn on.

Have a great week!

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more