It happens to everyone who has a garbage disposal at some point in time: the water in your kitchen sink won’t drain even when you run the garbage disposal. Even you have a good garbage disposal is, it will be clogged if you do not use it properly. The inconvenience is usually not an issue, but how do you know if this is just a clogged drain or if there is a worse underlying issue? Fortunately, unclogging your garbage disposal is easy enough to deal with on your own with just a few simple tools and some common household materials. Let’s take a look at what causes garbage disposals to become clogged and what you can do to fix the situation.
Common Causes of a Clogged Garbage Disposal
There are three things that can cause a garbage disposal to stop up and prevent your sink from draining.
Lack of Water During Grinding
It is very important to run water from the tap as you run your garbage disposal, as it helps to keep ground waste moving down the drain pipe instead of potentially jamming the grinding mechanism.
The Flywheel Can’t Grind The Waste
Sometimes things go down the garbage disposal that can’t be ground up by the flywheel, causing the mechanism to become jammed. Make sure you don’t overload your garbage disposal with food or kitchen waste that it can’t handle.
Your Garbage Disposal is Dead
Like any piece of machinery, garbage disposals wear out over time. It is always possible when yours gets clogged up that it has reached the end of its lifespan and needs to be replaced.
Generally, one of these three issues is to blame when you have issues with your garbage disposal draining properly. Now let’s look at some ways to fix this issue.
How To Unclog A Garbage Disposal
You need a few simple tools and some chemicals you probably already have in your home to troubleshoot a clogged garbage disposal. Here’s the list:
✓ Vinegar (white vinegar works best)
✓ Baking Soda
✓ A flashlight
✓ A knife
✓ Small, clean toilet plunger
✓ A wrench
✓ A screwdriver
Once you have these materials assembled and ready to use, try the following steps in this order:
1. Power off your garbage disposal at the circuit breaker panel. Verify that the power is off before attempting to fix the issue with your garbage disposal.
2. Start by trying to run water down the disposal system first. Additionally, pour a good amount of baking soda down the drain, then follow it up with vinegar. The reaction of thee two chemicals can help loosen any waste materials that may be preventing the disposal from draining.
3. Use your flashlight to look down your kitchen sink drain into the grinding chamber. Check for debris that is blocking the garbage disposal mechanism. Attempt to clear any debris you find with a sharp knife or similar instrument.
4. If there is water in the sink because the drain has backed up, you will need to clear the water before proceeding. Use a clean toilet plunger on the kitchen sink drain to pump the water in and out of the disposal and drainpipe. This should unblock the sink and allow the water to drain.
5. Open up the space underneath your kitchen sink to access the garbage disposal. Every garbage disposal has a hex-head hole that you will need to access and fit with a hex-head wrench. Start by inserting the wrench head into the hole and then turning it clockwise and counterclockwise a few times until it moves freely in both directions. This will clear any obstructions in the mechanism that you can’t see.
6. Use a screwdriver to rotate the blades inside the disposal chamber. If the blades don’t move freely, they may be the cause of the obstruction. You will need to use your screwdriver to rotate the blades until they spin freely. Give the screwdriver a tap with a rubber mallet or hammer if you can’t seem to clear the blades from an obstruction. Typically, blades get caught on kitchen waste like potato skins, egg shells, or banana skins.
7. Pouring coffee grounds down a garbage disposal is never a good idea, as they can cause the P-trap in your drain to clog. Start by unscrewing the nut at the base of the tee, as well as the slip nut between the trap arm and the P-Trap. Scrub and hose out the trap. Test your drain with warm water to make sure it is working correctly. Be sure to keep a bucket or pan underneath the trap as you work with it to catch any water that comes out. Next, remove the trap arm and clean it, taking care to clean out any debris from the pipe stub using a screwdriver or similar instrument.
8. Lastly, turn on the garbage disposal reset button at the base of your garbage disposal. Flip the breaker back on, then turn the disposal on. Verify that your garbage disposal is working.
If none of these steps has corrected your garbage disposal issues, you may need to contact a local professional. or it is more than likely your unit is no longer working and needs to be replaced. Click here for garbage disposal reviews.
Preventing a Clogged Garbage Disposal in the Future
✓ Always run warm water down your drain whenever the garbage disposal is in operation.
✓ Never pour coffee grounds down your drain
✓ Try to break up larger pieces of food waste before putting them down the garbage disposal
✓ Avoid allowing large quantities of grease or fat to run down your kitchen sink drain, as this can cause the drain to back up and jam your disposer.
Overall, clearing a clogged or jammed garbage disposal is a simple enough matter if you are willing to get your hands dirty and try these simple steps for yourself to get things moving again. Next time your garbage disposal backs up, give these steps a try. Often, it is the simplest fixes that resolve most issues with garbage disposals. Don’t be afraid to fix this issue on your own.