Trash Compactor: Runs constantly with ram in upper position

A broken top limit and directional switch typically causes the motor to run constantly after the ram reaches its upper travel limit. Because the motor doesn't shut off, you'll typically hear a banging or hammering noise as the motor continues to run with the ram fully lifted.

Pull the trash compactor out of the cabinet and unplug the power cord. Remove the top panel and replace the top limit and directional switch. Reassemble the trash compactor, plug in the power cord and reinstall the trash compactor in the cabinet.

trash compactor

These repairs may help solve your trash compactor problem

Replace the trash compactor top limit and directional switch

Replace the trash compactor top limit and directional switch

The top limit and directional switch stops the drive motor when the ram reaches its top travel limit. This switch also controls supply current going to the motor start windings to turn the motor clockwise to lower the ram and counter clockwise to lift the ram. Replace the top limit and directional switch if you hear rapid tamping when the ram returns to the top and the motor continues to run. You may also need to replace the top limit and directional switch if the motor won't start or the motor won't reverse directions when the reaches its bottom travel limit.

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.

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.

July 1, 2014
Trash compactor common questions
By Sears PartsDirect staff

See what questions our experts most often get about trash compactors.