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What to Do When Your Garbage Disposal is Stuck

Bits of food sitting in a full garbage disposal drain

The Wonders of a Garbage Disposal

These are great small appliances as they mulch your leftover food items and sends them quickly to the sewer system, never to be seen again. This process is better than tossing the food items into a garbage bag and lugging the bag to the curb for trash pickup.

Who knows what creatures got into those bags. While trash bags have their issues, garbage disposal is not without its own problems. Sometimes they can stop working for what appears to be no reason.

To find out how to unstick your garbage disposal just continue to read the rest of this article. It provides the instructions to help you get back to a smooth operating kitchen.

The Wrench Method

Allen wrenched on a ring fanned out and resting on a wooden table

One thing about garbage disposals, it does have built-in safety measures to help you get them working again quickly. This method requires the use of an Allan wrench and a little sliding on your back.

Once you have the wrench in hand, get down on your back and make your way under the kitchen sink to the garbage disposal. getting past the post stopping the cabinet doors can be tricky. Make sure to unplug and turn the disposal off before you begin.

After you are in position, bring the wrench up and slide it into the hexagonal hole on the bottom of the disposal. Now work the wrench back and forth until the wrench is able to turn one full revolution.

When it can, the item jamming the disposal should be gone. Next, remove the wrench and get back up on your feet. Grab some old tongs that you won’t use for a while and reach into the disposal and capture the item that jammed the small appliance.

That is all there is to it. All you have to do is plug the disposal back in, turn it on and test it out. If it works, you are good to go. If not, back under the sink you go to try again.

If the problem persists, you may either need to call a plumber or buy a new disposal. Then if you do not need the wrench elsewhere, simply secure it under the sink somewhere for the next time your disposal jams.

The Reset Button Method

Reset button isolated on a white background.

Sometimes the garbage disposal motor gets too hot as it does its job. When that happens your garbage disposal may stop working on you without notice. The first step in this method is to unplug the disposal and turn the switch off.

The second step will be to go under the sink and locate the rest button. Push it in and see if that does the trick. You will have to plug the appliance back in again and turn it on to see.

If it doesn’t solve the problem, just let the disposal sit for about 15 minutes to cool off completely. Then push the reset button again. If it pops out just wait a few minutes and then keep trying till it stays pushed in.

To help the disposal cool off, run some cold water through the drain for a few minutes. Try turning the disposal on again and see if it works. If so, then good but if not, then you may have to use another solution to get it working again.

The Manual Method

Hand holding an unplugged electrical plug

If all was going well and the disposal stops suddenly, you may have jammed the disposal. One way to fix this issue is to use your hands and a few key tools. The first step is to unplug the disposal to make sure your hands and tools do not get injured by accidental starts.

The next step is to shine a flashlight down into the disposal and see if you can find the item blocking the blades. Once you locate the blockage, use a pair of tongs, or a pair of needle-nose pliers and grab the item.

With a good grip, just pull up and the blockage should come with the pliers. Once the blockage is removed, spin the blades with the disposal wrench to see if the blades spin freely. If they do, you got it all. If they don’t you may have to reach inside once again till the blockage is gone.

Run a test to see if everything works like normal again.

Some Final Words

Close up of water running in a kitchen sink with a garbage disposal

It is never fun working around sharp objects powered by electricity. The key to unjamming your disposal is to make sure the power is off, and it stays off. Then you can choose one of the three methods described above to solve your problem.

Just make sure to take care when doing this and if you can’t fix the problem, call a plumber.

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