Whirlaway

Today, I fixed the garbage disposal at the house we’re purchasing. The symptoms of its problem were that it would hum when you flipped its switch, and after a couple of seconds, the reset button would toggle. It wouldn’t spin at all. I researched disposals and found that this usually means that something’s keeping the flywheel that drives the rotation from moving. Nobody’s lived in this house for a year, and I guess the owners left some junk in the disposal when they left. After doing my research, I checked, and, sure enough, there was lots of brown crud caked all into the inner workings of the disposal as seen from above.

Typically, when you need to loosen the flywheel, you stick an allen wrench up in a hole devised for the purpose and turn until the wheel loosens enough to let the thing spin. Then you pulse the switch to fling out whatever the obstruction was. But Whirlaway units (the brand installed at my new house) have no hole for this purpose. When I called the manufacturer to find out more about how to fix the thing, they told me that the preferred way of fixing this issue is — get this — to jam a broomstick down into the disposal and try to get leverage enough to loosen the wheel. Whaaa?

I tried that technique yesterday, applying enough force to bend (not in a damaging way) the stainless steel sink, to no avail. The manufacturer today suggested WD-40, and I sprayed the better part of a can of that down the disposal today trying to eat away at some of the gunk in hopes that it was corrosion rather than food. That cleaned things up a bit but didn’t solve the problem. So I attacked it with some Drain-O. Which still didn’t solve the problem. At this point, I summoned my inner brute once again and applied more force with a paint roller extender (in lieu of a broomstick). The aggregate effect of the chemicals and my own manly labors with the extender did the trick, and I finally got the flywheel to move.

And that’s how you fix a Whirlaway disposal.

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23 thoughts on “Whirlaway

  1. Mr. J says:

    My Whirlaway symptoms was a hum when you flipped the switch, and after a couple
    of seconds, the reset button would toggle. The disposal would not move.

    The plumbing sales associate at Home Depot store told me that all I needed was the
    garbage disposal wrench. He told me to remove the plate at the bottom of my disposal,
    insert the disposal wrench, give it a turn or two and the disposal would be working
    again. Boy, I would be all I was surprised to find all those wires and wire nuts on
    the bottom of my disposal !!!

    I did not have a wooden broom handle, however the wooden handle on my sledge hammer
    worked just as well. A couple of taps with the sledgehammer on the flywheel and the
    Whirlaway started up again. Thanks for the information!

    What a way to free a garbage disposal !!!! Anyone in need of a garbage disposal wrench
    never used ?

  2. Patty says:

    Today was the first time in my life I’ve ever had to deal with a garbage disposal that just quit. I am so glad I found these comments! I used the wooden spoon and WOW! The Whirlaway is working again without spending money. Thanks everyone!

  3. Ryan says:

    I can’t belive this…. it worked with a screw driver and some good ol fashioned brut strengh. Thank you soo much I was going CRAZY

  4. smathew says:

    I had the same problem today. I removed the black rubber casing by just pulling it out. Then I had easy access and used my wooden hammer handle. I tell you it worked. Or else I could find no help at 10.55 PM on Sat night. Thanks to all the bloggers.

  5. cheryl says:

    my whirlaway has a rag stuck in and i go get the wrench ( hex) and there is no place to put it, okay so now what , the broom thing didn’t work or i am too weak, too push it hard enough… any ideas?

  6. IHateMyHouse says:

    My lovely whirlaway quit working this morning. I checked this blog and thought – “piece of cake.” Nope. The two pieces that push the junk around in there rusted and broke off. One of them I pulled out and the other one is lodged between the spinning thing and the side of the disposal. I can’t get any leverege on them so mine is BROKEN.

    Perfect. LG dishwasher bit the dust a few months ago (it was only 2 1/2 years old), LG refrigerator blew a fuse (WHAT???) and now the garbage disposal is broken. NICE! This house sucks.

  7. Anthony says:

    I had my whirlaway stopped working today, this was new unit so I looked to put a wrench on the bottom, but instead found the plates and wires inside.

    Thanks to the blog, I opened the rubber cap on the sink and reached inside with my hand. There was a dish cleaning pad thingy which was stuck, I pulled it out and rotated the flywheel with my hand (yuck!!). It started working! It was a bit tricky to located the right part of the fly wheel which would turn.

    Given a choice, I still prefer the old fashioned wrench way 🙂

  8. Stephanie says:

    I have read blog after blog and tried it all. My “Fly Wheels” are turning just fine! (There are only two right?) I can put my hand inside the disposal – after its unplugged and they both spin fine. The fly wheels do not spin a full 360 but I don’t believe they ever did. But still. . . I only have a humm. NOW WHAT! Nothing seems to be stuck! Any idea’s – please

  9. Dani says:

    My husband and I just bought a home and the whirlaway was humming…thank goodness for this blog because we fixed the thing tonight (there was plastic and a key that were obstructing) after my hubby used the wooden dow rod on it and pulled all the crap out it worked perfectly 🙂 this was so helpful. thank u!

  10. jeff says:

    After an hour of figuring out this model didn’t have a hexnut, I tried the wooden spoon. It didn’t take alot of force, just several minutes of working it back and forth. Then the wheels turned with no problem, turned on the disposal, and a popcorn kernal went flying 6 feet in the air.

  11. mike says:

    I have used the broom handle technique in the past. This time, I have no humming sound. The reset doesnt need to be popped, i was able to use the broom to get blade plate spinning but no action on actual disposale.

    Is this a lost cause.

    Thanks, Mike

  12. Wow! I bought the silly hex tool first for $6.99 but I don’t care because this site saved me the $75 minimum charge that an appliance repairman would have charged to come and fix it. The wooden broom handle didn’t work for me but the screwdriver did. Thanks a million!

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