My Garbage Disposal Is Tripping the Breaker

A garbage disposal might trip the circuit breaker as the switch is flipped or during the disposal process if the circuit breaker isn’t wired correctly or isn't the correct size to support the unit.

Multiple Devices

Before checking the disposal wiring, flip the breaker switch all the way to "Off."Before checking the disposal wiring, flip the breaker switch all the way to "Off."
If you suspect a wiring problem, shut off the power at the circuit breaker before investigating.

If the garbage disposal is supported by the same circuit breaker as another large appliance, the garbage disposal might trip the breaker when activated. For instance, if both the garbage disposal and the dishwasher are connected to the same circuit breaker and the circuit breaker doesn’t have the capacity to run both of the appliances at the same time, the breaker will trip when both appliances are activated. You might find that dedicating a circuit breaker to each large appliance, including the garbage disposal, is a safer idea.

Wiring

The correct wiring from the circuit breaker to the garbage disposal is critical for the device to run properly. For electricity to flow through the unit properly, the wiring must create a closed circuit using positive and negative wires and connections. If the wires should be crossed to the incorrect terminals, the power overload could trip the breaker or cause the garbage disposal to fail to turn off. If either situation occurs, you can shut the electricity off at the breaker.

Stripped Wires

When wires are stripped bare of their insulation, proper care must be taken to avoid the touching of two hot or live wires. The touching of two hot wires could cause a fire, so at the first sign of an electrical problem with the garbage disposal, the circuit breaker should be turned off and the wires inspected. Touching hot wires can cause a weird burning smell and a blackened spot along the wires, which appears as electrical damage. The touching might have occurred at the connection points of the circuit breaker or the garbage disposal electrical panel. If you see two live wires touching, an electrician should be called to fix the error.

Breaker Load

Before the installation of a garbage disposal and breaker, the power requirements of the garbage disposal must be reviewed. You must make certain that the circuit breaker is the correct amperage for the job. If the breaker is too small to handle the electrical load as demanded by the disposal, the breaker will trip and you’ll need to replace the old circuit breaker for one with a larger capacity.

About the Author

Whitney Houston began writing in 2006. Her work has been published in "BUST" and PaperDolls magazines. Houston attended St. Edward's University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in photocommunications (photography and digital imaging).