Trash Compactor: Motor runs but the ram doesn't move

The ram won't move if the power nuts don't grip the drive screw grooves or if the drive gear and sprocket chain is broken or disconnected from the sprockets.

Open the drawer and remove the trash container if it's still in the drawer. Pull the trash compactor out of the cabinet and unplug the power cord so you can examine components and find the cause of the failure.

Remove the drawer and the top trash compactor cover. Lay the compactor down and remove the bottom cover. Check for a broken or disconnected chain. Replace the chain if it's broken. If the chain is intact but disconnected, check the drive gear and sprockets for damage. Replace any stripped or damaged drive parts.

If the chain, drive gear and sprockets are all okay, manually spin the power screws to see if power nuts grip the drive screw grooves. If the power nuts grip the drive screws, the power nuts and ram will move when you manually spin the power screws. If the power nuts and ram won't move when you manually spin the power screws, replace the nuts because they are stripped or broken.

Reassemble the trash compactor after finding and fixing the cause of the ram drive failure. Plug the compactor in and reinstall it in the cabinet.

trash compactor

These repairs may help solve your trash compactor problem

Replace the trash compactor drive gear and sprocket drive chain

Replace the trash compactor drive gear and sprocket drive chain

The drive gear and sprocket drive chain assembly is to transfers the motor's energy to the power screws. Replace the drive gear and sprocket drive chain if the ram won't move when the motor runs and the chain is broken.

Replace the trash compactor power nuts

Replace the trash compactor power nuts

The power nuts are fixed to the sides of the ram. The power screws rotate inside the power nuts to move the ram down and up. The ram will not move if the power nuts are damaged or stripped. If the power screws rotate and the ram does not move, replace the power nuts.

Symptoms common to all trash compactors

Choose a symptom to see related trash compactor repairs.

Main causes: bent drawer support rollers, damaged trash container
Main causes: stripped or broken power nuts, broken or disconnected drive gear and sprocket chain, damaged drive parts
Main cause: faulty drawer tilt switch
Main causes: lack of power, faulty drawer safety switch, bad power switch, momentary start switch failure, bad drive motor, wiring failure
Main causes: stuck foot pedal, bad momentary start switch, power switch failure
Main cause: broken top limit and directional switch
Main causes: broken drive gear and sprocket chain, stripped power nuts, faulty top limit and directional switch
Repair guides common to all trash compactors

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your trash compactor.

How to replace a trash compactor motor centrifugal switch

If the trash compactor ram won’t return to the top position, replace the motor centrifugal switch by following the instructions in this repair guide.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
How to replace a trash compactor momentary start switch

The momentary start switch starts the motor when you lift the foot pedal. This repair guide shows how to replace the switch if it stops working

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
June 1, 2013
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a trash compactor power switch

If the trash compactor won’t power up, use the steps in this repair guide to replace the power switch.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Articles and videos common to all trash compactors

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your trash compactor.

December 1, 2017
Wiring schematic symbols explained video
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn some of the most common symbols found in a wiring diagram and what they mean.

January 6, 2015
Troubleshooting a stuck trash compactor drawer
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn what to check if you are having problems with the drawer sticking on your trash compactor.

December 26, 2014
Preventing trash compactor odors
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Here are helpful tips for keeping your trash compactor clean and fresh.