Kitchen drains are the most heavily abused drain in the home. With constant everyday use, the disposal is bound to clog at some point. With the increased use of the kitchen during the holidays, a clogged garbage disposal becomes more likely. Don’t let a clogged garbage disposal cause a holiday blunder. You can choose a DIY option or hire a professional for this task. Use these three simple tricks to unclog your disposer on your own.

Before you work to unclog the disposal, disconnect the electrical source by unplugging the power cord from the wall.  If your disposer is hard-wired, find your electrical panel and turn the breaker off.

Safety Tip: After you disconnect the electrical source at the breaker, go back to your disposal and check the switch for power. Verifying the source of electrical is disconnected, is important. Don’t risk it.

1. Remove food and debris

With the power off, remove any food accumulation in the disposal. Remove as much debris from the disposer as you can. If your hand is too big to fit inside the disposal, grab a flashlight and pair of needle-nosed pliers to pull out any accessible remnants. Whatever you remove, be sure to discard in the trash. You don’t want to leave any debris in the sink or you may risk jamming the disposal again.

2. Drain and rotate blades

You will need to grab a set of hex wrenches (also known as Allen wrenches) for this step. If you don’t have any, ask a neighbor. Underneath your sink, examine the underside of the disposal. Presumably, you will see a small hole that fits a hex key. By inserting the appropriate size hex key, you can manually rotate the blades of the disposal. Frequently, this step frees up the disposer and gets the water draining. Continue to rotate the disposal impeller until it moves easily and freely.

Some older style disposers lack the hex key hole to rotate the blades manually. If you are unable to locate the hex opening, you can use a broomstick handle (or another long rod) to rotate the impeller. Stick the broom handle into the disposal (with the power off still) and try rotating the blades. Use the broomstick to move the impeller in back and forth circular motions.

3. Reconnect and reset

Reconnect the electrical source by plugging in the unit or flipping the breaker to the “on” position. Go back to your disposer and hit the reset button underneath the garbage disposal. Typically, the button will be a small, square red button, about the size of a pea. Push the button all the way in.  Now, flip the disposer switch back on to test for proper function.

These simple steps should alleviate your clogged disposal. If you find the disposer remains jammed, proceed with the three steps once again. If you feel you need help unclogging the disposal, call a professional plumber.


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