When your garbage disposal is backed up, you’ll know. There’s an unpleasant smell, and food will come up the drain instead of going down it, which can be gross. But what’s causing your garbage disposal to back up into the sink?
We’ve put together a guide about backed-up garbage disposals and included some ways you may be able to fix it yourself. Understanding the causes, techniques to repair a backed-up garbage disposal, and how to prevent it can help you steer clear of this unfortunate scenario. So let’s take a further look into this common plumbing problem.
Causes of a Backed Up Garbage Disposal
When your garbage disposal is backing up into the sink, a few things could be causing this. Disposals are tough machines, but they can reach a breaking point in all their strength. These are the most common reasons garbage disposals get backed up.
Food Is Stuck
Millions of people use their garbage disposal to discard food down the drain every day, and rightly so, it gets the job done. Stuck food in your drain and pipes is the most common reason garbage disposals get backed up, and it’s one of the easiest problems to fix.
To keep your receptacle in good condition, try not to put all your meals down your sink. Putting small amounts of food down the garbage disposal is okay and won’t hurt your disposal. But there are some foods that can cause blockages and you should avoid putting down your disposal:
- Oil and grease: Leftover grease from bacon? Don’t pour it down the disposal! Even though it’s a convenient way to get rid of it, pouring it down the drain risks clogging your disposal. Grease and oil harden as they cool down which leads to chunks that can obstruct pipes.
- Coffee grounds: Grounds from your morning coffee are the top food you should not dispose of via your garbage disposal. Coffee grounds aren’t like other foods in that they break down. Instead, they clump together when they get wet, so every time you run your water, they could form a mass that can back up your garbage disposal.
- Eggshells: Eggshells are sharp, but they also have a bumpy and grainy texture that can get wrapped around the blades of your garbage disposal. This combination puts the pipes and blades of your disposal at risk of damage.
- Vegetable peels or skins: Vegetable peels or skins can be a hazard to your disposal. Peels will break down and turn into a thick paste and can prevent your garbage disposal from working properly. It’s better to put things like potato peels in the trash instead of down the sink.
- Bones: Those bones from your chicken wings should not go down the garbage disposal. Bones’ hard texture can dull the blades of your disposal and cause it to have further problems.
- Starch foods: Starches like pasta, potatoes, and beans expand and turn into a paste when they meet with water. Over time, the paste can turn into a mushy sludge, causing water to come back up your garbage disposal.
The blades of garbage disposals are not as sharp as we think they are. We call them blades, but they’re actually much more blunt. If your garbage disposal has dull blades, it could be the reason your garbage disposal is regurgitating food back into the sink.
When blades cannot grind up food, there’s a lack of power and suction that usually helps the food down the drain. When these aren’t working, the food spins around until it eventually comes back up the drain. We’ll go over how to sharpen your blades in the next section so you can prevent this from happening.
Improper Installation or Old Garbage Disposal
Improper installation can also cause a backup in your garbage disposal. While it’s unfortunate that your disposal wasn’t installed correctly, our plumbers will be happy to fix it and replace any parts that are in the wrong place. Some signs of an improper installation, in addition to clogging, are:
- Weird sounds coming from the disposal
- Leaks under the sink
- An unpleasant smell (could smell like rotten eggs)
- Out of power
Another reason garbage disposals back up is because they are simply out of use after years of working. The blades may dull, or the plumbing needs to be replaced. Whatever it is, our plumbers are ready to help you and replace your garbage disposal.
DIY Ways to Fix a Backed Up Garbage Disposal
There are ways to fix a backed-up garbage disposal on your own before you contact a plumber. These do-it-yourself solutions could save you time and energy and help you get back to a worry-free plumbing system.
Use a Plunger
The traditional plumber’s tool, the plunger, can help you fix your clogged garbage disposal. Before you begin, unplug the unit to prevent any complications and, most importantly, to ensure safety. You want to make sure you’re using a sink plunger instead of a toilet plunger to allow easier plumbing.
Next, insert the drain plug into the sink opening and fill the sink with a few inches of water. Extra water will help to plunge and determine if your disposal is still clogged. Plunge the sink slowly and then release.
Continue to do this until all the water in the sink goes down. Depending on how backed up your disposal is, it may take a bit. Then, to clear any remaining debris, run cold water and turn on your garbage disposal to see if it’s functioning properly.
Ice and Rock Salt
Despite ice’s hard consistency, it can help clear a backed-up garbage disposal. To clean and unclog your disposal, put ice cubes in your sink so that they cover the drain while cold water is running. Then, pour 1 cup of rock salt and turn on the garbage disposal.
As you do this, brown water or even food may come back up to your sink momentarily. The murky water is a sign that your disposal is detoxing from the food that was causing a blockage. The ice helps clean the blades of the garbage disposal, and the rock salt helps remove odors by breaking down any remaining food particles.
Did These Methods Work for You?
These methods are not guaranteed to unclog your garbage disposal, but they may help get rid of some debris in your disposal. If it’s a more severe problem, you may need professional plumbing help.
Let us know what remedies you’ve tried, and we may be able to suggest other DIY alternatives or tips that can help you fix future plumbing problems.
Preventing a Backed Up Garbage Disposal
We’ve gone over some methods that you can use to clear your backed-up garbage disposal on your own. Now let’s talk about prevention to avoid going through this troublesome scenario again. Here are a few tips to keep your garbage disposal clean and functioning correctly:
- Throw away foods that don’t belong in the disposal
- Don’t run hot water with the garbage disposal
- Put small amounts of food down the drain, not full meals
- Routinely put ice cubes down your disposal to keep blades sharp
These good habits can help you have a cleaner and properly functioning garbage disposal. Try your best to keep up on your receptacle’s maintenance even if there doesn’t seem to be any problems with it. By doing this, it can help save time, stress, and money in the long run.
How Our Plumbers Can Help You
If your garbage disposal backs up into the sink, there’s no need to worry. Our plumbers have seen all kinds of plumbing problems in their years of work. We work with a diverse range of plumbing issues, including garbage disposal problems.
Our plumbers arrive on time whenever you have a plumbing issue. Whether it be at 7 a.m. or 1 a.m, we have plumbers on call 24/7. We can come to your home or office; wherever you need us, we’ll be there. We are committed to our customers and providing you with excellent customer service.
We can even help you decide if a maintenance plan is right for you. Maintenance plans can remove the stress of scheduling routine check-ins for each appliance. The plan we offer takes care of all your plumbing needs in one visit.
Schedule a Garbage Disposal Repair and Installation Today
If these DIY solutions helped you fix your garbage disposal, great! But if they didn’t, there’s no need to stress. Give us a call, and our plumbers at Plumbing by Jake will arrive, diagnose your problem and create a convenient plan to repair or replace your garbage disposal that works with your schedule.
We serve homeowners and businesses in Arizona in the following cities: Kingman, Lake Havasu, Bullhead City, Golden Valley, and other surrounding areas. So whenever you need a plumber, we’re ready to help.