How To Fix A Trash Compactor That's Stuck
Our response to COVID-19
We're open and continuing to ship packages. Learn about our response to COVID-19

How To Repair Your Trash Compactor When The Ram Is Stuck Down

Click a Part Below to Start Your Repair:

About this repair:

  • Rated as REALLY EASY
  • 3 repair stories
  • 3 step by step videos

Drive Gear

If your trash compactor is jammed or stuck with the ram in the down position, the problem may be with the drive gear. The drive motor has a small gear attached to the shaft and this gear meshes with the larger drive gear, which in turn operates the chain that powers the ram screws. The drive gear is normally made of plastic and may have broken or have some broken teeth. It is located at the bottom of the compactor. Remove the unit from the cabinets and disconnect the power. Lay the unit down and remove the bottom panel and inspect the drive gear for damage. Inspect the drive motor gear as well. Replace any damaged gears and lubricate with grease. Check to see that the chain has not fallen off and has the correct tension of about a ½ inch deflection.

Directional Switch

If the ram is stuck on your trash compactor, you may have a problem with the directional switch. The directional switch is a multifunction switch located at the top of the unit and is activated by a metal tab on top of the ram. The directional switch is used to control the direction of the motor and ram travel. If the switch contacts become welded closed or stuck open, the motor may not reverse and the ram could become stuck at the bottom of its travel. You can check the directional switch for continuity with a multi-meter. Remove the unit from the cabinets and disconnect the power. If the ram is stuck at the bottom you will need to lay the unit down and remove the bottom cover. Rotate the drive gear to raise the ram to the top and then stand the unit up. Next, remove the mounting brackets and then the top panel. Remove the ram using caution not to damage the directional switch lever. Remove the switch and check for continuity with a multi-meter. You may require the electrical schematic for your model to determine the proper terminals to check. Replace the switch if required and then verify the proper adjustment for the activating lever.

Power Nut

If the ram in your trash compactor is jammed or stuck, you may have a damaged power nut or nuts. The power nuts, sometime referred to as trunnion nuts, are attached to either sides of the ram and are driven by the power screws. When the power screws are rotated in one direction, the ram will compress, and when rotating in the opposite direction the ram will raise to the top position. If the power nuts become stripped or damaged, the ram may become stuck and you will often hear a loud banging noise as well. To inspect the power nuts, remove the trash compactor from the cabinets and disconnect the power. Remove the mounting brackets and the top panel for a visual inspection. If the ram is in the down position, lay the unit down and remove the bottom panel. You can then rotate the drive gear to raise the ram. You can now remove the ram to closely inspect or replace the power nuts. Tape the direction switch lever to prevent damage when removing and replacing the ram. Lubricate the power nuts with grease before you reassemble.

More Repair Parts

Still not sure which part is broken? We can offer you custom troubleshooting help if you search with your model number.

Enter model or part number

Need help finding your model number?