How to Unjam A Garbage Disposal

If you have had garbage disposal for a long while you will know that some of the problems like jamming and clogging are almost inevitable. You will from time to time have to handle issues that are about the jamming.

How to Unjam A Garbage Disposal

Unfortunately, the jamming or clogging issue can inconvenience your cleaning and other operations in the kitchen.

The jamming gets worse if you don’t take care of it sooner. The good thing is that to unjam the garbage disposal doesn’t need some rocket science.

The Warning Signs of a Jam

If you are keen, you will know when theirs a jam and stop it sooner. When you first start using it, you will hear the typical humming sound. But when it jams, and it stops running, the motor gets heated up and then eventually stops the disposer all together.

  • The noise

The other thing that will show you there’s a jam is the noise it makes. It may be a louder noise than the regular noise you are used to. But then the difference is that even though it makes this noise, it doesn’t grind the waste properly.

Mainly, if you dropped a metal into the disposal unit by accident, it would make the screeching noise. In other instances, it makes the noise when the metal parts of the disposer grind on each other.

  • The messy disposer

Check the discharge pipe and if you notice that there’s an untidy mess that pops out. You should be concerned about the possibility of a mess having formed.

Sometimes you will even notice the leaking water on the parts of the disposer. There is usually a crack in the body of the disposer, and it finds a way to release the water. The water leak is mostly a result of clogs, but sometimes even jams may cause it.

  • Odor

A bad odor is generally an indication of a failing disposal unit. It could be anything from the presence of a clog to jam presence. You should know that food waste isn’t draining right.

The good news is that the garbage disposal jam is easy to care for.

Causes of The Jamming

Most of us use this appliance as though it’s a regular garbage can. For this reason, putting the wrong items in the disposer may cause a clog. However, when you drop things like hard bones and utensils, then you don’t remove them sooner, jamming is almost inevitable.

The metals and hard stuffs stop the shredders and impellers from their regular operations. The good thing though is that the disposer makes a squeaking sound when there’s a jam.

The Tools You Will Need

  • Flashlight

For the most part, the inner part of the disposal is often dark, and you can’t literary see anything. The first thing you will need to make the unjamming process easy is to use a flashlight to find the jam.

  • The tongs or pliers

This is one of the simplest tools to use in removing the thing causing the jam once you see it. Its good to mention that you should never dip your fingers in the disposer. Since the pliers and tongs are long, they will get a hold of the foreign thing.

  • Allen wrench

By far, this is the most popular item that is used when there’s a jam. The best part is that mostly the disposer comes with its Allen wrench. You can use them when you need to repair the disposal.

Allen wrench

What size of wrench should you use?

Often the disposers come with a ¼ inch wrench. But not all of them come with the disposer though. So, check the side of your disposer to see whether it has a wrench or not. If it doesn’t then a ¼ inch one is just enough.

Brands like Insinkerator has its wrench type that will work with its brands. However, you might have to purchase it on the side.

Fixing the Jam

Restarting the garbage disposal

Restarting the garbage disposal

Sometimes the jam may not be something serious therefore you can try this simple option first.

Begin by unplugging it from the source of power.

Check for the reset button below the disposal. Sometimes it will be popping out, and you need to re-fix it. Once you fix it, in some cases the disposer will start to work. Notice that the button often pops out just when the disposer is too hot.

Give it some time and then push it in again. Next, try the garbage disposal to see if it’s working. If it’s working, then you will know there was nothing foreign. If it’s not though you can try other options below.

The Other Methods

Some other disposers won’t have the slot designed for the wrench which leaves you with the following options.

Using the nose pliers

  • Switch off

As in the Allen wrench method, switch off all form of power supply. If possible, unplug it first to make sure ‘there’s no total supply of power.

  • Check for the obstruction

Check for the obstruction

The flashlight will help you see where the jam is. If you have switched it off already, use the flashlight to see the inner part of the disposal. Check the shredders, impellers or the flywheel for anything that could block its pathway.

  • Use the nose pliers

Use the nose pliers

At this juncture, you ought to use the tongs or pliers. If you can see the obstruction, insert the nose pliers in the disposer and pull it out. But if you didn’t see it yet, stick the nose pliers into the sink and to the garbage disposal unit to find the obstruction.

Move it around, and if you find the obstruction, pull it out.

  • Finally

Plug it on and then run some water into the disposal then switch it on to see if the jam is cleared. If it is then clean the disposer before you begin to use it.

How to Use an Allen Wrench to Unjam the Disposer

How to Use an Allen Wrench to Unjam the Disposer

There are times when the jam has stopped the grinding. This is when you should use the Allen wrench. Often you will find that something got stuck on the flywheels, shredder or impellers.

As a rule of thumb, before you start the unjamming process, you must switch off the garbage disposal power and the circuit breaker too.

Use an Allen Wrench to Unjam the Disposer

The garbage disposal has a port on the bottom side of the disposer. This is where to insert the Allen wrench. Next, turn the wrench clockwise and anticlockwise. On both sides turn it until you reach an obstruction.

If you continue to do this, you will feel the motor shaft begin to spin, and that should let you know that you have cleared the jam.

Also, once you have dislodged the jam from the flywheels, impellers or shredders, the wrench will move through all parts of the disposer with ease. This is the only indication that you have loosened the jam.

run the water

Finally, run the water and switch on the power after plugging it again. You need to confirm that it has begun working normally. So, after switching it on, you can press the reset button. Go on to put a few food wastes and try to grind. It should work now.

What if its a simple power break?

Sometimes, you may think you have a jam, but really, it’s a power break. So, you should confirm that there’s power running to the disposer.

Go on to test the power supply outlet. Do this by unplugging the disposer and then plugging in the blender of any other electric gadget to confirm the presence of power. If it’s turning on, you can move to the next step but if not check the circuit breaker.

Maybe there’s one of the circuit breakers that has tripped, and you need to change it before it starts working again. Turn it on once again, and if you have changed the circuit it should begin to run the disposer.

How to Prevent the Garbage Disposal Jams

The jams and clogs have almost the same way of prevention. But if you want to use it over a long time as you avoid inconveniences, you probably should do the following.

  • Check what you put in the disposer

The jams come from you throwing foreign material in the disposer. So, you should make sure you never throw utensils in or even glass and plastic. The rule is that this is not a garbage can and not a blender. Therefore, you shouldn’t throw hard food in it.

  • Clean it frequently

If you clean the disposal often its probable that you will get rid of any clogs that may cause jams. But most effective is for you to run a little more water to clear the dirt.

  • Be observant

While operating it and before running it, confirm that nothing foreign falls into the disposer. Listen for a difference in the sound just as it has started to help you get rid of the jam sooner.

How frequently does the jam occur though? If you notice that the disposal jams much more regularly, you should replace it. If it has served you for more than eight years it may be an indication that the disposer has served you long enough.

Otherwise, this is a regular jam that you may fix with the simple steps above. Now you know why you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars every time you have a simple jam.