October 21, 2019 • In Featured, Plumbing • 5 Min Read

Garbage Disposal Not Working? Unclog Your Garbage Disposal

GEM

By GEM

Oh boy, is your garbage disposal not working? That’s no fun. The good news is, we know everything about garbage disposals and we’re here to help you fix the issue, so you can get your kitchen back on track!

Common garbage disposal issues:

  • Your garbage disposal is stuck
  • Your garbage disposal drain is clogged
  • Your garbage disposal is leaking

What to do if your garbage disposal is stuck:

The first thing to do is to look at the underside of your garbage disposer for the red reset button. Push it and see if that works.

If that does not work:

  1. Disconnect your disposer from the power supply.
    • If it’s plugged into a wall outlet, unplug it.
    • If it’s hardwired into an electrical box, go to the electrical panel and turn off the breaker for the disposer.
  2. Get a ¼-inch Allen wrench (there may be one already attached to your disposer) and insert it in the hex hole (What’s a hex hole?) directly in the center of the bottom of the disposer.
  3. Work it back and forth several times to free up the impeller.
  4. You can try to turn the impeller from the top too. Insert a short broomstick or the handle of your plunger into the disposer and push the impeller arm to try to get it to turn.

Note: If the impeller won’t turn, then there’s probably something stuck in the disposer. It could be a steak bone or peach pit, although plumbers report pulling all sorts of inappropriate objects out of disposers, such as bottle caps or aluminum foil. Making sure that power to the disposer is off, look inside to see if you can see the source of the jam.

Beware! Never stick your fingers in a disposer. Pull out anything you see with tongs or pliers.

If the disposer still won’t work, it may be time to call a plumber or consider buying a new disposer. GEM Plumbing is here for all of your garbage disposal needs!

What to do if your garbage disposal drain is clogged:

If your garbage disposal is clogged it is actually likely the result of the drain attached to the disposal being clogged. We have the insider’s scoop on the clogged drain/ garbage disposal hack that will fix your issue in no time: baking soda!

  1. Take everything out from underneath your sink and put a bucket or other container under your disposer to catch any water that drains out.
  2. Disconnect your disposer from the power supply.
    1. If it’s plugged into a wall outlet, unplug it.
    2. If it’s hardwired into an electrical box, go to the electrical panel and turn off the breaker for the disposer.
  3. Pour ¼ cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by ½ cup of white vinegar. Give the solution a few minutes to fizz and do its work.
  4. Look into the disposer with a flashlight to see if you can see an object that might be causing the clog. If there is, remove it using tongs or pliers.

Note: Never use drain cleaner in a disposer. It can damage the plastic parts inside the disposer. In addition, you can be splashed with the caustic liquid while working to clear the clog. (That wouldn’t be good!)

Beware! Never stick your fingers into a garbage disposer. Trust us—not a good idea.

Note: In many instances, your dishwasher drains through your garbage disposer. This allows the disposer to grind any large food particles that may be drained out of your dishwasher. There are some jurisdictions, however, where the plumbing code prohibits such a connection.

If your dishwasher drains through the disposer, you want to make sure that the connection is securely clamped so that the hose isn’t blown off by the pressure created by plunging the drain. That would make a mess.

  1. Run some water in the sink so that your plunger has at least a ½-inch of water to create a seal and plunge vigorously up and down several times. You may need to repeat this several times.
  2. Run hot water down the drain to clear any residue that remains.

If these tips and tricks didn’t help solve your clogged garbage disposal issue, we are here to help. GEM’s licensed plumbers have years of experience in drain cleaning and garbage disposals, and they are at your service for all of your Plumbing Maintenance and Repairs needs.

What to do if your garbage disposal is leaking:

  1. Take everything out from underneath your sink and put a bucket or other container under your disposer to catch any water that drains out.
  2. Disconnect your disposer from the power supply.
    • If it’s plugged into a wall outlet, unplug it.
    • If it’s hardwired into an electrical box, go to the electrical panel and turn off the breaker for the disposer.
    • Note: There are three places where water can leak out of your disposer:
      1. the flange where it’s attached to the sink
      2. the drain hoses
      3. out of the bottom of the disposer.
  3. Plug your sink and fill it with a little bit of water. You won’t need much. You can add some food coloring to make it easier to spot leak points. (Woohoo! It’s like a sixth grade science experiment!)
  4. Pull the plug and watch.
    • Note: Leaking from the flange is common. The seal can be broken from vibration or from the disposer being bumped. You’ll need to reseal the connection at the flange.
  5. Disconnect the disposer from the flange and unscrew the bolts that hold the bottom flange in place.
  6. Pop the top flange off from the inside of the sink.
  7. Both the top and bottom flange are sealed with plumber’s putty. Scrape off the old putty, apply a generous amount of new putty on both the top and bottom flange, and bolt the flange back in place in the sink drain.
  8. Reattach the disposer.
    • If the disposer is leaking from the hose or drain line connections, unscrew them and inspect them. Make sure any gaskets inside are still good, replace them if they appear worn, and reattach them securely.
    • If the disposer is leaking out of the bottom, it’s a bad sign. There are several gaskets in the bottom inside a disposer and if one is leaking, it’s only a matter of time before they all leak. You’d have to replace them with gaskets from the manufacturer and it really isn’t worth the time and trouble. Expect a garbage disposer to last five to 10 years. They aren’t that expensive, and you’d be better off buying a new one.

And that should get your garbage disposal back to performing the way it’s supposed to!

Still having trouble? Check out our Plumbing services for more information, or book now with a GEM Plumbing expert. We will have your garbage disposal back to normal in no time!

Ready To Talk To A GEM Home Services Specialist?

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