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Garbage Disposal Repair - Clogged Garbage Disposal

Updated on February 18, 2016
Lily Rose profile image

In my next life, I want to be an interior designer. I love decorating and home decor, taking on projects, and helping others do the same.

Garbage Disposal Basics

While the sink water is running, food scraps get fed down into the drain. When the switch is turned on for the garbage disposer, the motor spins a flywheel quickly, which throws the food scraps against the wall of the disposal. Solids get caught between a couple of moving knives and a shredding ring, so the solids get ground up into small pieces which are then flushed through holes in the flywheel and sent down the drain.

Have you ever wondered where food particles left on dishes that are washed in your dishwasher go? Well, dishwashers are usually connected so that they drain into the side of the garbage disposal system.

Disposers cannot handle everything, so you have to be careful what you send down the drain.

Fibrous foods like banana peels, artichoke leaves, celery, and corn husks are not handles well. Also, it’s always best to run lots of cold water while the disposal is running as well as after it’s done grinding so that all the ground up food gets sent down and out the drain.

Garbage Disposal Repair

How to tell if your disposal is jammed: You can usually tell that a garbage disposal is jammed by listening to it; if it just hums then it’s jammed.

  • The first thing you should do is turn it off. There’s usually an Allen wrench socket located at the bottom of the disposer for turning a flywheel that’s jammed. Sometimes turning the wrench is all you need to free the jam. There’s also usually a reset button on the bottom of the unit, which may have to be pressed if the unit doesn’t run when you turn it back on after clearing a jam.
  • If there is no Allen wrench socket on the bottom you can still try to un-jam the unit. First, unplug the disposer. Use a wooden broom handle and insert it into the unit and use it to turn the flywheel – this should work to release the jam.

  • If the disposer seems to be running properly but water is still backing up, then the problem is most likely a clog in the drain, not the disposer. This can happen if there’s too little water used to flush out the ground waste, so be sure to run plenty of water even after you turn off the disposer.

If the above tips don’t work and you have determined that you need to replace the unit, there are tons of options, but this one below is the one I recently bought for my kitchen sink. It works perfectly and is so silent that sometimes I wonder if it's even working!

Comments - Let Me Know If This Was Helpful

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    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Susie - sorry your disposal keeps getting jammed! I hope this information helps you next time you're in a bind!

    • SUSIE DUZY profile image

      SUSIE DUZY 7 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      Thanks for this great information. I constantly am jamming my disposal.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Well that's not a good situation - I hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by...

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Thanks for the advice. have a tendency to clog up my disposal just when I am about to leave for vacation!