Garbage Disposal Flywheel Stuck: 5-Step Fix


Although your garbage disposal is probably the tiniest appliance you own, it serves a hugely important function. Garbage disposals grind down food waste into small pieces so it can move through the pipes without causing clogs and damage.

But what if the flywheel in your garbage disposal is stuck, and your disposal is no longer working?

Garbage disposal flywheels usually get stuck when large pieces of debris prevent them from moving; corrosion can also cause flywheels to get stuck. To fix a stuck flywheel:

  • Unplug the disposal.
  • Push the reset button.
  • Insert an Allen wrench inside the hole on the bottom of the disposal and turn it.
  • Remove any debris using pliers.

Keep reading to learn about what a flywheel is and why it could be stuck. We’ll also explain how to unstick a stuck flywheel and how to replace a flywheel.

What Is The Flywheel In A Garbage Disposal?

The flywheel is a vital part of your garbage disposal that plays an essential role in disposing of food waste. It works together with the shredder ring and impellers.

The shredder ring is a ring made of metal with multiple sharp grooves. These grooves grind up food. Meanwhile, impellers are blades that serve to cut up food.

A flywheel looks like a round disk with several small holes. It rotates and catches large pieces of waste when they’re dropped into the drain. 

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As the flywheel rotates, it spins the impellers and flings chunks of food waste into the shredder ring.

Once the food breaks down into smaller pieces, it can fit through the flywheel’s holes. At that point, it enters the lower hopper chamber, where the motor is located. 

Water and waste move through the lower hopper chamber into the drain pipe. 

Without a functioning flywheel, the entire garbage disposal system will not work. Sometimes, flywheels get stuck, and if they aren’t fixed promptly, they can lead to the motor burning out and needing to be replaced.

Why Is My Garbage Disposal Flywheel Stuck?

There are two primary reasons that garbage disposal flywheels get stuck.

First, and most commonly, something stuck in the flywheel keeps it from moving. This might be a large piece of food or other debris, such as a utensil or coin.

Second, the flywheel is corroded and needs to be replaced. However, this happens less frequently than something simply being stuck in the flywheel.

How Do You Unstick A Stuck Flywheel In A Garbage Disposal?

While unsticking a stuck flywheel may sound complicated, it’s a simple process that you can complete in just a few minutes.

You’ll need an Allen wrench, pliers, and a pencil or another long item.

Step 1: Turn Off Power

Start by turning off the disposal and unplugging it. Disposals are usually plugged in underneath the sink. You can also turn off the circuit that provides power to the disposal if you’d like to be even safer.

Step 2: Push The Reset Button

Next, look underneath the disposal for the reset button. This is typically a small yellow or red button located on the bottom of the disposal. Push it for several seconds.

Step 3: Insert The Wrench

Look at the bottom of the disposal. You should see a hole in the center that will fit your Allen wrench. This hole is connected to the flywheel.

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Insert the Allen wrench into this hole. Turn it back and forth several times. This will turn the flywheel and should move anything that is stuck inside.

Step 4: Look Inside

Now, you’ll move back to the top of the disposal. Use a flashlight and pencil or another long item to poke around and see if anything is stuck inside. 

If there is something stuck in your disposal, use your pliers to grab and remove it. 

Step 5: Test The Disposal

Restore power to the disposal system by turning the circuit back on (if you turned it off), plugging the disposal in, and pushing the button or flipping the switch to turn it on.

Be sure to run water as you test out the disposal. 

If it runs properly, congrats! You’ve fixed your disposal’s stuck flywheel.

What If My Disposal Still Isn’t Working?

If your disposal still isn’t working, you’re likely dealing with a motor problem. This usually means that you’ll need to replace the disposal system.

If you’re not comfortable replacing it yourself, be sure to contact a professional to complete this project for you.

How Do You Manually Change The Flywheel On A Garbage Disposal?

Follow the steps below to replace your garbage disposal’s flywheel (and the rest of the grinding unit). You may need to do this if the flywheel is corroded or otherwise damaged.

It’s important to note that it’s easier to replace the entire grinding unit than just the flywheel. Changing out the flywheel on its own is much more complicated and time-consuming. 

You can purchase a new grinding unit from the disposal manufacturer, your local hardware store, or online.

Be sure to unplug your disposal before you begin.

Step 1: Remove The Disposal

If you look at your disposal system, you’ll see that it’s connected to two things: your sink’s drain and the drain pipe. To take out the disposal, you’ll just need to remove each of the bolts that hold it in place.

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Step 2: Take The Disposal Apart

Disconnect the grinding unit from the motor and lower hopper chamber by removing the bolts that connect them. The grinding unit is the upper part of the disposal, and the motor and lower hopper chamber make up the lower part of the system.

Step 3: Switch Out The Grinding Unit

To install the new grinding unit, use the bolts you removed in Step 2 to secure it to the lower part of the disposal.

Step 4: Reconnect The Disposal System

Reconnect the disposal system to the drain pipe and sink drain. Plug the disposal in. Turn it on and test it while running water to ensure it works. 

If your garbage disposal doesn’t work, the flywheel seems to be stuck, or your garbage disposal makes strange noises, turn it off immediately to prevent any more damage.

Look over your work to see if there are any obvious mistakes.

If not, you’ll most likely need to replace the garbage disposal system. You can also call a plumber to see if they can fix the issue or complete the replacement for you.


Corrosion and large pieces of debris can keep your garbage disposal flywheel from turning. To unstick your stuck flywheel, start by unplugging the disposal.

Push the red or yellow reset button on the bottom of the disposal. Insert an Allen wrench into the hole in the center and turn it from side to side.

Then, inspect the disposal from the top to see if any debris is inside. If so, remove it with pliers.

If these steps don’t work, you may need to replace your flywheel or your entire disposal system.

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