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Quick, Easy Ways to Fix a Clogged Garbage Disposal

Clear the Inside, Disassemble Pipes, or Use a Drain Snake

© 2013 by Carly Fierro; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

Garbage disposal diagram; image courtesy Donald J

I can’t go a month without clogging up my kitchen sink. By now, when I hear the garbage disposal make that gurgly, slightly subdued sound, like it’s choking on one of the potato peels I accidentally dropped in yet again, I no longer need to call my dad to help me fix it.

Instead, I try one of these four methods to unclog it. And guess what? I haven’t had to bring in a plumber yet.

Whether you’re a teacher or a mouse control professional, you can use these tips to unclog your disposal, too.

Step One: Get in the Muck

Before you go any further, you should have the disposal turned off. Don’t ever put your hand down a running disposal, even a clogged one. Turn off the power at the circuit breaker and use a circuit tester at the switch.

Next, put your hand down the clogged sink and feel around to determine if there’s anything obstructing the disposal. Sometimes you’ll be able to dislodge an errant bottle cap or piece of silverware, which will get things moving again.

In other words, ensure that all moving parts, are, in fact, capable of moving by hand. Your configuration will be dependant on your make and model but they are all similar.

Step Two: Try a Reset

If you’ve been turning the disposal off and on frequently in an effort to clear the clog, the problem may be simply that your disposal has been overloaded and automatically shut down.

Wait about 30 minutes to allow the machine to cool off. Turn the power back on and then find the reset button, a small knob on the underside of the disposal. Hit it once, and try the disposal again.

Step Three: Bring Out the Plunger

This is the step I dread because it can be messy, but it’s also effective. If getting in the muck and resetting didn’t work, grab a toilet plunger and put it to work.

There are two ways to do this (I’ve used each to great success). First, try to plunge the clogged side. You may pull up whatever’s giving you the problem.

Second, if you have a double-sided sink, use the plunger on the non-disposal side. It will help suction out the clog.

Step Four: Use a Wrench

The previous three steps were pretty basic and don’t require any sort of expertise. But if you’ve made it this far, you have a serious clog, and you’re going to have to do some actual repair work.

Position a bucket beneath the P trap, loosen it using a wrench, and remove it. Then feel around to try to find your culprit. It may be on the disposal side, on the wall side, or in the trap itself.

If you don’t have any luck, the next step is to use a snake to try to clear out the clog on the wall side. Alas, if that doesn’t work, you may need to call in the professional.

To avoid this problem in the future, remember to run cold water for 30 seconds after every use of the disposal, and never dump soft peels like apple or potato down the drain—they’re notorious clogging culprits!

About the Author:

Carly is a freelance writer who loves animals, spending time outdoors, and traveling. She loves how blogging allows her to share her writing with a large audience on the internet.

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