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Men! Unjam and Fix your Garbage-Waste disposal

Updated on December 23, 2013

Garbage disposals can be very problematic creatures, and are prone to breaking down regularly without so much as a telephone call or an email to give you proper warning of their malign intentions.

When a garbage disposal breaks down the best advice is to sell your house and keep your fingers crossed that the new buyers do not ask you if the garbage disposal is working.

If however you stubbornly insist on facing down the garbage disposal and wrestling it to the ground until it cries 'uncle' then,short of getting your B.A. in Waste Management Studies you may need some very basic tips to help you succeed in unjamming it.

So What is a Garbage Disposal?

Although they look mysterious, hiding there under the sink, lurking in the shadows, garbage disposals are in fact, quite simple and made up of just a few components.

These components are:

  • a motor
  • a flywheel

  • an impeller arm

Now that doesn't sound so mysterious, does it?

Well ok, it's still mysterious, because you probably don't know what an impeller arm is. If you do, then YOU should be writing this Hub and I should be off catching up on my reading.

At any event, the impeller arm is apparently the nasty bit that flays and slices up all the actual chunks (disjecta membra)of egg shells, orange peels and other flotsam and jetsam that you should never have put down there in the first place.

Cut the Power

If you have tried pressing the 'reset' button to no avail, then your disposal is likely jammed up with something.

The first step in cleaning your disposal is essential.

Cut the power.

Whether you can unplug the disposal directly, or if you find your circuit breaker (look in the basement) and turn it off that way--you need to make certain there is no power flowing to the motor.

Having done this, you should now assemble a few things you will need to accomplish your task.

You Will Need:

  • a long-handled broom
  • some newspaper
  • an 'Allen Wrench'
  • pointed-nosed pliers

What To Do

Get down on your hands and knees, (unless you happen to be under two fee tall, this step is unavoidable), and open the the doors under your kitchen sink. Lo and behold, there is the little beastie in all it's ugly glory.

Now, just take your Allen Wrench, and use it to loosen any detritus by putting your wrench in the hole at the bottom of the disposal and gently probing.

Next, standup, and take your broom and using the handle, insert into the top of the garbage disposal, by way of the sink drain. Wiggle it and again remember to gently push.

Finally, use your needle nose pliers to reach in and pull out anything you may have succeeded in loosening.

Chances are you will pull out an old running shoe, or a golf ball, or something that your husband accidentally dropped down there and didn't tell you about.

Now you want to flush the drain with some cold water and voila, you have solved the problem!

What NOT to Do

A few tips on what you should NOT try when fixing your garbage disposal:

  • Do not use chemical flushes as they can be caustic and damage your disposal's innards.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, use your hands to do what the tools above do.

  • Do not leave your drain without a strainer in it at all times. This will prevent future jam-ups with your handy kitchen helper.


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