What Should I Do If Something Is Stuck in the Garbage Disposal?

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What Should I Do If Something Is Stuck in the Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposals are a great convenience. But like anything mechanical, sometimes they stop working. It’s happened to all of us. You know the drill. You flip the switch and nothing happens, except for the garbage disposal buzzing. Your garbage disposal jammed. So what should you do if something is stuck in the garbage disposal?

We’re glad you asked. We’ll walk you through some do-it-yourself tips here, but if you don’t have the right tools, or just don’t want to lie down with your head under the sink, or if you try everything and the garbage disposal still won’t work, you can call Plumbing By Jake at 928-377-5910 to schedule garbage disposal repair, or garbage disposal replacement, depending on what seems to be the problem. We serve homeowners and commercial clients throughout Mohave County, including Kingman, Bullhead City, Golden Valley, and Lake Havasu.

How to Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal

Most garbage disposals work the same way. The first thing to do before trying to fix a jammed garbage disposal is to make sure the switch is in the off position. To be doubly safe, you should unplug the disposal from the outlet under your sink.

Next, if there is standing water in your sink, you may want to bail it out. You can reach down into the disposal with a pair of tongs (only use your hands if you’re sure there is no power to the disposal) and remove any debris that is loose. This will help the water drain and make it easier once you get rid of what is actually stuck in the garbage disposal.

Open the Cabinet and Look Under the Garbage Disposal

(A series of diagrams with this explanation would be helpful.).

Look for a small hexagonal hole in the center of the disposal bottom. Look around for a small ¼” hex wrench that fits the hole. There may be one taped to the bottom of the disposal if it has never jammed. If you were not the one who had the garbage disposal installed, you might find the wrench somewhere under the sink, or it may be that thing in the junk drawer that you always wondered what it was for. If you can’t find such a wrench, check the toolbox for an Allen wrench (also known as a hex key), or pick one up at a hardware store.

Once you have the wrench, you’re ready to begin.

  • Double-check that the disposal switch is in the Off position and the disposal is unplugged.
  • Next, insert the hex wrench into the center hole. Work the wrench back and forth until it turns one full revolution. This should have dislodged whatever was stuck.
  • After the wrench turns one full revolution, remove the wrench and use tongs or your hands to remove any debris from the disposal.
  • Allow the garbage disposal motor to coll for 3-5 minutes, then push the red reset button on the bottom of the disposal.
  • Plug the disposal back in, turn on the water, and turn on the disposal. If the disposal runs as it should, you’re done. If it is still jammed, repeat the above steps, being careful to remove debris each time the wrench makes a full revolution.

If you’ve run through these steps up to three times, you may need to call a plumber to remove the disposal to clear a jam. If you’re especially handy, you could do this yourself. Most people aren’t.

Pro tip: Make sure you put the hex wrench back under the sink when you’re done so you can easily fix a jammed garbage disposal in the future.

How to Prevent a Garbage Disposal Jam

While a garbage disposal is convenient, you shouldn’t put just anything down the disposal. Some items are too hard or too small to grind and can end up getting stuck in the impeller.

Items that commonly get stuck include:

  • Pieces of bone
  • Nutshells
  • Fruit pits (peaches, cherries, avocados, etc.)
  • Certain melon seeds
  • Pumpkin guts
  • Corn husks
  • Artichokes
  • Small pieces of gravel or sand
  • Broken glass

While it is generally OK to send carrot peelings and other vegetable peelings down your garbage disposal, be careful to keep the water running, and add small amounts at a time, rather than stuffing a bunch of stuff into the disposal and then trying to run it.

While we’re at it, there are a few things you should not put down your garbage disposal or your drain if you want to avoid a clog:

  • Animal fat, oils, and bacon grease
  • Pasta or bread (They expand when wet)

Call Plumbing By Jake for Garbage Disposal Repair and Installation

Call Plumbing By Jake at 928-377-5910 for garbage disposal repair and garbage disposal installation. You can also fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you quickly. We serve both residential and commercial clients in Kingman, Bullhead City, Golden Valley, Lake Havasu,  and surrounding areas.