How To Safely Fix a Garbage Disposal When It's Stuck
Company’s coming. (Don’t problems always happen when company is coming?)
Your garbage disposal is suddenly jammed. There’s stinky stuff in the sink, but when you flip the switch nothing happens. The clock is ticking, your blood pressure is rising, and you know that even though service from ServiceOne is ultra-quick, our plumbers can’t magically appear on your doorstep before your guests arrive.
What do you do?
Here’s how you safely fix a garbage disposal when it’s stuck in FOUR easy steps…with two caveats!
Make sure the power is turned off by unplugging the unit.
It’s tempting to stick your hand down there to see what you can feel, but if you do and you dislodge something, the blades can spring back and hurt you.
Believe it or not, a thousand people a year are taken to the hospital with garbage disposal injuries because they’ve stuck their hand or fingers into the hole!
Every garbage disposal comes with a skinny, long-handled wrench.
Remember when I said there were “caveats” to safely fixing a garbage disposal?
The first caveat is finding the wrench!
Some organized souls have taped the garbage disposal wrench to the side of the unit. Others have taped it to the inside of the cabinet door or stowed it in a cleaning bin under the sink. Lots of people throw that special wrench into the kitchen junk drawer, and after rummaging through it, they come up with the necessary tool.
But the truth is, more people don’t even know where that wrench is.
Not to worry. You can use a ¼” Allen wrench.
If you have the tool, then you need to insert it into the hole in the center of the bottom of your disposal unit. The hole faces the floor.
So here’s the second caveat:
Lay down on your back or hip with your head under the sink, facing up. (I know. Easier said than done!)
Once you’re in position, insert the wrench, then work it back and forth. You may dislodge whatever is stuck in the blades by using the wrench.
If you don’t have the proper tools, or you aren’t able to get down on the floor….
Or if you can get down but aren’t sure if you can get back up…
it will be easier to call ServiceOne for help right away!
If the wrench hasn’t worked, while you’re lying there on your back with your head under the disposal, look for a little square red button on the underside of the unit.
This is an overload protector. If it has popped out or dropped down, push it to move it back into place. If it doesn’t stay up, wait ten minutes and try again.
Depending on your agility, it may be easier to take a nap while you’re down there instead of getting up and having to get down again ten minutes later!
(Of course, ServiceOne plumbers are smart AND spry, and they can do all this for you!)
Take a flashlight and look down inside the garbage disposal. Sometimes foreign objects get lodged around the perimeter. If this is the case, using tongs, pliers, or even long tweezers, pull out whatever is stuck.
Be careful! Don’t use your hands to do this in case the blades move when you dislodge the object.
With luck, you’ve reset the garbage disposal, and when you get back on your feet, plug the unit back in, start the water, and flip the switch, you’ll hear the good grinding of garbage again!
How to keep your garbage disposal from jamming again in the future
·Water is inexpensive and available. Don’t skimp on using it when you’re running the garbage disposal. Make sure to keep the water running 10-20 seconds after you’ve turned off the disposal to get everything rinsed down the drain.
·Don’t put eggshells, bones, or hard seeds into your disposal. Yes, the blades in a garbage disposal are super strong and extremely effective on most scraps, but think about the kind of force you’d need to grind a peach pit or pulverize a bone!
·Avoid putting celery, onion skins, and other fibrous foods down the drain. Those long, strong fibers get wrapped around the blades and can cause trouble later.
·Use cold water rather than hot water. Cold water keeps grease from liquefying and coating the blades with build-up.
·Clean your garbage disposal regularly to prevent buildup and odors. Over-the-counter products exist, but the easiest solution is to throw ice cubes with a little salt on them and then turn on your disposal.
How old is your garbage disposal?
The average lifespan of a garbage disposal is about ten years old.
If yours is making funny noises, whining when you turn it on, or shutting off more often than it used to, it probably needs to be replaced.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, and no one wants a jammed disposal or clogged sink when you’re fixing your feast or cleaning up the mess!
Now is the time!
Now is the perfect time to replace that cantankerous, old garbage disposal. ServiceOne is offering $50 OFF on the installation of a new garbage disposal from now until December 31st, 2022.
Our plumbers are nimble, knowledgeable, and neighborly. They can get down on the floor for you and take care of your disposal when it’s being difficult.