How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

When your garbage disposal grinds to a halt, the culprit is often a clog. Before giving up on it, try these simple steps to unclog a garbage disposal and prevent the problem from coming back.

How to Tell if Your Garbage Disposal Is Jammed

Start by making sure a jam is actually the problem by asking yourself these questions:

  • Does the motor make a humming noise without any chopping or grinding?
  • Do the blades run but make a lot of noise?
  • Did the garbage disposal start and suddenly stop?

Any of these situations could point to a jammed garbage disposal. A humming motor or a sudden shut-off could indicate a large item blocking the blades. Extremely loud blades could be stuck on a glass or metal item.

How to Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal

Don’t place your hands inside a garbage disposal, and always run it with cold water. With safety in mind and your system turned off, try these steps to unclog a garbage disposal:

  1. Hit the reset button: Find the reset button on the bottom of the unit, which trips like a circuit breaker. Wait 15 minutes after the jam and press this button. Power on and run the disposal. If it stops, move to step two.
  2. Remove blockages: Turn the system off. Reach in with long tongs or pliers and try to pull out the item or debris. Remove your tools from the disposal. Hit the reset button again, and run the disposal.
  3. Use a wrench: Find the wrenchette that came with your system or a quarter-inch Allen wrench. Insert the wrench into the center hole on the bottom of the unit. Move it back and forth until the wrench spins fully. Try to remove the debris again, hit reset and run the disposal with hot water.

If these methods don’t work, call a plumbing professional.

Keep Your Garbage Disposal Clean

Save yourself some time and hassle by maintaining a clean garbage disposal. Learn what items you can’t grind, such as fibrous and grainy foods like coffee grounds, celery and pasta. Keep these items out, and clean your garbage disposal regularly to remove buildup.

Call the Pros for Extra Help

Sometimes, you’ll need more than the basics. If these methods don’t work, call a plumbing professional to fix a jammed garbage disposal. If you’re near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the experts at Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning can help. Schedule a service today to get your garbage disposal back in shape.