How to Fix a Trash Compactor Ram That's Stuck in Down Position
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How to Repair a Trash Compactor When Ram Is Stuck Down

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About this repair:

  • Rated as REALLY EASY
  • 3 repair stories

Drive Gear

If your trash compactor ram is stuck in the down position, there could be an issue with the drive gear. The motor gear is attached to the shaft of the drive motor, and functions with the large drive gear to power the chain and ram screws. It is not uncommon for this part to have broken or damaged teeth as it is made of plastic. To repair your trash compactor, begin by turning off power to the unit and removing it from the cabinet. The drive gear is located at the bottom of the unit. Remove the bottom panel to check the drive gear. Replace this part if it appears to be damaged. Take this opportunity to inspect the drive motor gear for damage, and apply additional grease to lubricate the gears. Before reassembling the unit, make sure the chain has the right amount of tension: approximately ½ inch deflection.

Directional Switch

If your trash compactor ram is stuck down, there may be an issue with the directional switch. This switch is activated by a metal tab atop the ram, and controls the direction of the ram. Directional switch failure due to the contacts becoming welded shut or stuck open, can result in the ram getting stuck at the bottom of its cycle. To troubleshoot the trash compactor, first shut off the power source and then remove the unit from your cabinets. If the ram is stuck in the down position, lay the unit on its side to access the bottom. Manually turn the drive gear to cycle the ram back up to the top and stand the compactor upright. Take off the mounting brackets, remove the top panel and lift the ram out. Check the switch terminals for continuity using a multi-meter. Consult your compactor schematic to find out the exact terminals to test for continuity.

Power Nut

If your trash compactor is jammed, there may be a defective power nut causing the ram to be stuck in the down position. Power nuts, also known as trunnion nuts, are driven by power screws and attached to the sides of the ram. The power nuts raise and lower the ram, and if they become stripped over time, the ram may start making a banging noise and can get stuck in either position. To troubleshoot the trash compactor, disconnect the power source and remove the unit from your cabinets. Take off the mounting brackets and remove the top panel. If the ram is stuck in the down position you may need to lay the unit on its side and go through the bottom first, rotating the drive gear to lift the ram back up. Once the ram is in the up position, check for damage to the power nuts. When handling the ram, take care not to disturb the directional switch lever are you could easily break it. Take this opportunity to apply more grease to the power nuts to lubricate them.

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