Kitchen faucet and disposal just mutinied. Help!
October 26, 2006 1:47 AM   Subscribe

My kitchen is systematically going on strike. Last week, my kitchen faucet stopped working. The sprayer thingee still works when the water is on. All other water appliances still work. Just no water from the kitchen sink. The next day, my roommate tells me that the garbage disposal isn't running. Everything else on that circuit is running fine. What to do? How do I fix this? Do I call an electrician, a plumber?
posted by donmayo to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
They probably aren't related to each other, though anything is possible. If you're getting water from the sprayer and not from the main faucet, odds are there is an obstruction inside the faucet itself preventing water from coming out. Be sure you've check the simple stuff like unscrewing the screen from the tap to be sure that it's not clogged.

There is a pretty good diagram of what is under the typical kitchen sink here. You can see that the disposal is a completely separate item.

Here's a handy guide to repairing a single-handle kitchen faucet. The parts can be had at your local home center, assuming it's not a 50 year old fixture or some weird off-brand. A two handle faucet would be similar, and perhaps easier to fix as the sprayer is simply a T-fitting underneath.

Plumbing isn't that hard, but it's work best done with some care and patience. A professional would probably take their minimum house call charge to fix this (the faucet part of the problem, anyway). Describe the problem in detail and have the brand name of the faucet ready so he can bring appropriate parts.
posted by maxwelton at 3:43 AM on October 26, 2006

I think some/most disposals have a reset function. There's probably a reset button, like on a power strip, and a little hex wrench that you stick in the bottom of the unit and crank around a few times and then the thing works again.

If you can't find the hex wrench (mine was taped to the inside of the cabinet by the previous owner) you can get a new one for no money at a hardware store.
posted by dirtdirt at 4:02 AM on October 26, 2006

Very probably, the faucet's diverter valve assembly (item #11 on this page) is bad. It's just a $5 reed valve that is shifted by water pressure when you open the sprayer handle, to divert water from the main faucet body. If you can identify your faucet (Delta, Moen, etc.) you can probably pickup a replacement at any home store, or plumbing supply house. It's about a 5 minute job to replace. Just turn off the water under the sink, unscrew the sprayer hose, unscrew the old diverter, and reassemble in reverse, using some teflon tape to seal the threads.

The disposal could be jammed, and have popped its circuit breaker. You can un-jam it as dirtdirt describes, but with two additional caveats: 1) you can usually a 3/8" or 10mm Allen wrench as the tool for shaft rotation, if you can't find the bump wrench that should have come with the disposal, and 2) be sure to turn the disposal shaft in the direction opposite it's normal rotation to dislodge the jam, and then you can remove the offending object with tongs from a top the disposal.
posted by paulsc at 4:24 AM on October 26, 2006

As dirtdirt says, disposal units have a safety switch, much like a fuse that trips in the event that the blades become jammed (because it just might be someone's hand that's jamming them).
They will usually have a button on the bottom of the unit in a recessed cavity that can be pushed to reset them.
posted by medium format at 4:49 AM on October 26, 2006

Probably a good idea to unplug that sucker while you're fooling about with the hex wrench, too. Be a shame to break a wrist.
posted by flabdablet at 5:12 AM on October 26, 2006

We reset our non-functioning disposal when we moved into our condo. As described above, it was a button/crank technique. No need to pull the plug or kill the power at the fusebox. Just turn the thing off at the switch and you should be okay.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:26 AM on October 26, 2006

Has someone been mucking around under the sink? Often when the garbage disposal doesn't work it's because it has been accidentally unplugged. There is an electric outlet under your sink, check that first.
The reset button is almost invisible. I usually have to lie on the floor and look up to find it and I know approx. where it will likely be. It's usually red.
While you're under the sink look around at the pipes and see if maybe something was jarred loose on the water pipes, like some sort of valve. It's unlikely but people do wierd things to plumbing sometimes.
posted by BoscosMom at 1:37 PM on October 26, 2006

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