How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

Dec02 By Drain Service Emergency Plumber Home Services
Kitchen garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal may seem like an indestructible feature of your kitchen sink, but it can fall victim to clogs and jams that put a serious damper on dinner prep. If your garbage disposal is clogged, follow these tips to get the water flowing again.

Before You Begin

For safety, never reach into the kitchen sink with your bare hand. If someone switches on the disposal while your fingers are down there, you could be in for a gruesome injury. So before attempting to unclog the garbage disposal, unplug it from under the kitchen sink. You can also cut the power to the circuit breaker just to be safe.

Then, gather supplies to help you with unclogging the garbage disposal. You’ll need the following:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Pliers or tongs
  • Allen wrench
  • Broom
  • Sink plunger

Remove the Clog by Hand

With the garbage disposal unplugged, shine a light down the kitchen drain to see if you spot the object causing the clog. If so, reach a gloved hand inside and retrieve the obstruction. Use pliers or tongs if necessary. Test the garbage disposal to see if it’s working now.

Reset the Disposal and Turn the Impellers

After removing any physical obstructions from the garbage disposal, press the reset button. This is most likely located on the bottom of the unit. Then, test the disposal again.

If that doesn’t work, insert a 1/4-inch Allen wrench into the hex socket on the bottom of the disposal. Twist the wrench in both directions to turn the impellers and hopefully dislodge the clog.

If you don’t have an Allen wrench, try sticking a broom handle down the drain and moving it around gently to help dislodge an impeller jam. Then, restore power and test the disposal again.

Plunge the Drain

If the garbage disposal runs, but the kitchen sink is still full of water, the clog is probably located further down the pipe. Never attempt to use chemical drain openers in a garbage disposal. Instead, break out the plunger.

Be sure to use a standard cup plunger designed for sinks, not a toilet plunger with a flange design. This distinction is important, both for hygienic reasons and to improve the chance of your efforts clearing the clog.

First, fill the sink with a few inches of water to create an airtight seal between the sink basin and the rubber cup. Then, plunge up and down vigorously to dislodge the clog. Repeat this motion several times until the water drains naturally.

Call a Plumber

If your attempts to unclog the garbage disposal prove unsuccessful, it’s time to call a plumber. Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating is qualified for the job. We can repair your garbage disposal and clear the drain if needed to restore full functionality to your kitchen sink. With over 20 years of experience, you can trust our highly trained plumbers to perform a thorough job well done. Call us at (206) 938-3219 or contact us online to request garbage disposal repair in the Seattle area.

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