Garbage disposals are very prone to get clogged at some point, especially if you abuse them by putting foods that are difficult to decompose down the sink drain. However, there are ways to unclog your garbage disposals and get it back up and running if you notice it's clogged.
If your first thought is to call a professional to deal with the mess, you're certainly not alone. But why not try to stick your hand into a disgusting sludge of water and food remnants to fix the problem. In this guide, we'll show you how to unclog garbage disposal without the need to call a professional.
1. Causes Of A Clogged Garbage Disposal
It's essential to have a steady flow of water while using your garbage disposal to avoid being clogs. There are so many things you shouldn't put down your sink drain, from chicken bones to potato peels and even some dried food material. If you're sending items that are difficult yo break down to the disposal, it's going to cause a clog in the drain lines. The following items should never send down the disposal.
- Fibrous foods
- Coffee grinds
- Bones of any kind
- Non-food items
- Rice, Pasta, beans, potatoes/potato peels, and other starches
Avoiding these items will help prevent future clogs in the drain lines.
2. Signs Of A Clogged Garbage Disposal
Many signs can show that your garbage disposal may be clogged. In this section, we’ll list the common signs.
- Standing water in your sink and won't drain.
- If you regularly rest your garbage disposal for it to work.
- You hear a loud clanking or humming noise when you turn on the garbage disposal.
- You see puddles under your sink or a water drip from the garbage disposal.
- There is the smell of rotting food arising from your kitchen sink.
- The drain opening backs up, and you see unexpected food particles in your sink.
3. Safety Tips Before You Begin
Unclogging your garbage disposals is safe as long as you take precautions. Follow the safety tips below when clearing out clogged disposal.
- Make sure that the unit is switched off before you start working.
- Do not put your hand or fingers down inside the sink drain opening because garbage disposal blades are very sharp and can do your fingers damage.
- Wear rubber gloves because plumbing work can be messy and unhygienic.
- Identify what is causing the clog so that you can get the best approach to take.
- Wash your hands with plenty of soap after finishing to avoid the risk of germs spreading.
4. Tools Needed To Unclog A Garbage Disposal
If you have a clogged garbage disposal, and trying to unclog it yourself, then it's not too difficult to solve. You need to have the following tools to resolve the issue.
- Adjustable pliers
- Rubber or latex gloves
- Wire brush or pipe cleaner
- Disposal jam or Allen wrench
- Plastic tub to catch drain out water
- Garbage bag for dirty or removed items
5. Methods Used To Unclog Garbage Disposals
There are different methods you can use to unclog your Garbage Disposals before you contact a plumber. Below are a few of them.
Method 1: Unclog A Garbage Disposal Using A Plunger
Using a plunger is a reliable method of unclogging your Garbage Disposals. With this method, you will get enough force to free the clog. Here are steps on how to use a plunger.
- Find the drain pipe that joins the garbage disposal to the dishwasher.
- Next, put a clamp on the hose that's connected to the garbage disposal nozzle to prevent the dishwasher drain hose from falling off.
- Use a plunger to cover the drain.
- Switch ON the faucet until the plunger is about 3-4 inches of water.
- Plunge the drain for around 15 to 30 seconds.
- Lift the plunger to see if the water drains away. If the water drain, then you have successfully cleared the clog.
- If you notice that the water is not draining, repeat the process a few more times.
Method 2: Unclog A Garbage Disposal Using Baking Soda And Vinegar
Using baking soda with vinegar is one of the most effective ways to clean your garbage disposal. This method requires making a homemade cleaner. Here is what the process looks like:
- Pour baking soda around half a box into the garbage disposal.
- Pour white vinegar around half a cup into the garbage disposal. (Be prepared, this combination will fizz!)
- Leave the mixture of both baking soda and white vinegar in the drain to settle for about 10 minutes.
- While you wait, run the faucet with hot water for about 3 minutes.
- Run the hot water down the disposal to see if this does the trick for relieving your clog.
- You've solved the clogging problem if the garbage disposal works.
- You can repeat this step if the garbage disposal still isn't working, or you move to the next method.
We recommend taking this action once a month to clean out your drains as a precautionary measure to prevent any future clogs.
Method 3: Unclog A Garbage Disposal Using An Allen Wrench
If you own an Allen Wrench, then you may try to unclog your disposal with the unit. Follow the steps below.
- Insert an Allen wrench into the hex socket located behind the garbage disposal.
- Rotate the Allen wrench to the right and left until the unit is free.
- Turn ON the disposal.
- You will need to call a plumber if your is disposal is still clogged after these steps.
Method 4: Unclog A Garbage Disposal Using Long-Handled Tongs Or Pliers
Sometimes, a foreign object falling inside the Garbage Disposal causes clog. You might have to use long-handled tongs or pliers to get rid of the garbage that is closer to the top to get to the root of the problem and take a better look down the disposal.
- Look inside the disposal using torchlight.
- You've found the source of the clog if you see any lodged item within the unit.
- Carefully reach into the garbage disposal, remove and dislodge the object using tongs or pliers.
- Plug the disposal back into the wall once you've removed the object.
- Check the reset button of the disposal to ensure that it isn't tripped.
- Turn ON the disposal.
- You've solved your problem if the disposal works and water drains properly.
6. How To Prevent Clogging In A Garbage Disposal
Your garbage disposal is going to clog at some point during use. But there are several ways in which you can prevent or minimize your garbage disposal from getting clogged. Below are some tips.
- Watch items you put down: As said earlier, items such as large bones, potato peels, oil, grease, plastic, or paper can all cause your garbage disposal to clog. You should avoid putting the items mentioned above, anywhere near your disposal to prevent clogging.
- Cut waste into smaller Pieces: Your garbage disposal isn't built to handle large pieces of waste, therefore cutting your waste into thinner or smaller pieces before you pour them into the garbage disposal can prevent clogging.
- Use cold water: Always use cold water when running your disposal as it helps the waste to move through the machine quickly. Hot water can cause residue to build-up inside the garbage disposal. The cold water hardens food waste and makes it easier to grind and flush to the pipes.
- Always operate the garbage disposal: You need to run your disposal whether you have anything to grind or not. Letting the garbage disposal to sit unused for a more extended period can cause corrosion or rust. Periodically run the disposal for 15 to 30 seconds using the cold water.
- Keep your disposal operating: Don't switch off your garbage disposal immediately it's done grinding. Allow the garbage disposal to run for a few additional minutes before you switch it off. This will ensure that all the ground waste has been flushed through the pipes, and helps prevent any future clogs.
Garbage disposal is essential in the kitchen. If you take care of it, you don't overload it and use it well; then it will make life a lot easier. If you don't, then it could become a big task to keep it running. You're likely to experience clogged garbage disposal, and when this happens, you become upset.
The various methods listed and discussed above should be enough to fix your clogged garbage disposal. However, if you feel that something is too complicated, or you are unable to do the job, you may get in touch with a professional plumber to help you sort this problem out.