How to solve 3 common trash compactor problems

Keep the door clean

  • Make sure it's plugged in
  • Check for frost
  • Give it a good cleaning
Maintenance and Repairs, DIY

A trash compactor is a great purchase if your household produces a lot of trash and you constantly find yourself bringing overflowing bags out to the curb. The appliance can certainly make your life easier, but it can also be a source of frustration when it's not working right. If your trash compactor is acting up, you might be able to identify and fix the issue on your own. Here are three common problems you might experience and the steps you can take to solve them.

1. The door won't open

It's definitely hard to use your trash compactor if you can't get the door open. There are a few different reasons you might experience this problem, the most common of which is when there's a buildup of debris impeding the door. You can prevent this issue by keeping the frame of the door clean whenever you put garbage into the appliance. DoItYourself.com noted that most models have a removable front plate so you can look for trash buildup when the door won't open. Clear out the blockage as best you can and be sure to give the unit a thorough cleaning once the door opens again. If this doesn't seem to be the culprit, you may have a damaged drawer or a faulty switch.

2. The compactor won't start

Another common issue that homeowners experience with their trash compactors is when the appliance won't turn on. SFGATE noted that this is usually just a simple power issue. To troubleshoot the problem, check that your compactor is plugged in. You may also want to double-check that the electrical outlet is working by plugging in another small appliance. If that doesn't seem to be the cause of the problem, ensure that the compactor's door is fully closed. Most models will not start until the door is secure.

3. The appliance smells bad

Just as your trash can develops a foul odor over time, a trash compactor may also start to smell. When this happens, the best solution is simply to give the appliance a thorough cleaning. Unplug the compactor and wipe out any debris that may have fallen into the appliance. Carefully clean the inside of the compactor with warm water and a household cleaning product. SFGATE suggests using an antibacterial formula to effectively banish odors. Be sure to scrub off any caked-on residue — the cleaner you get the appliance, the less it will smell.

There are also a number of mechanical problems that may affect your trash compactor. Sometimes, the motor, control panel or switches on these appliances break, and in that case, you won't be able to fix the issue by yourself. But, a Cinch qualified service partner will know what to do. If you’re already covered under a systems or combo plan, we can help no problem.


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.