How To Unclog Your Garbage Disposal: Three Methods

We’re all spending more time at home, which means our appliances are getting a lot more use than usual. This applies to our garbage disposal, too. Knowing how to unclog your garbage disposal will save you a lot of time — and money. This tutorial will guide you through the process of unclogging it, using three methods.

Method 1: Press the reset button

  1. Unplug the garbage disposal. Don’t skip this step! Protect yourself by cutting off the power to the unit before you work on it. The outlet should be under the sink, near the unit.
  2. Push the reset button. You will find this small, red button on the bottom of the garbage disposal unit. Press the button back in if it appears to stick out.
  3. Turn on the faucet. The water should be cold. This way, the fat or grease that may be clogging your drain isn’t melted and pushed further down your pipes. Run the water down the drain, into the garbage disposal, for about sixty seconds.
  4. Turn on the garbage disposal. Now you can plug the unit in, and flip on the switch. If the blades are not spinning, then you should move onto another method. If the motor is humming, then it’s clear that the problem is indeed a blockage.

Method 2: Rotate the blades with a 1/4-inch Allen wrench

  1. Unplug the garbage disposal. Once again, don’t skip this step!
  2. Find a properly-sized Allen wrench. The garbage disposal unit should have come with an Allen wrench. However, if you can’t find it, you will likely find success with a 1/4-inch Allen wrench from your toolbox.
  3. Insert the Allen wrench into the hexagonal-shaped hole under the unit. Look under the garbage disposal unit to find the hole, located in the center. Insert the Allen wrench.
  4. Turn the motor shaft by cranking the wrench. You should crank the wrench in both directions in order to loosen the blades. Turn counterclockwise until the motor shaft can’t turn any more, then switch to clockwise. The goal is to free up the clog. So crank the Allen wrench back and forth until it can twist freely in a full circle. When you are done, remove the wrench.
  5. Turn on the faucet. The water, as before, should be cold. Run the water down the drain, into the garbage disposal, to free up any blockages within the blades.
  6. Turn on the garbage disposal. Now you can plug the unit in, and flip on the switch. The blades should spin freely again. However, if you are still experiencing issues, move onto Method 3.

Method 3: Remove the blockages

  1. Unplug the garbage disposal. 
  2. Shine a flashlight down the sink drain to hunt for blockages. It’s time to do some searching. Using a flashlight, peer into the sink drain and examine the garbage disposal’s blades. Obstructions are common on the perimeter of the unit.
  3. Use pliers (or tongs) to manually remove blockages. Note that this step requires a tool that keeps your hands our of harm’s way. Pliers or tongs will be long enough to reach into the drain and free up the blades from any visible blockages.
  4. Still stuck? Use a garbage disposal wrench. This tool is specially made for turning garbage disposal blades, but from above instead of below. Insert the garbage disposal wrench into the drain and fit it around the blades of the unit. Rotate back and forth, firmly, until you feel the blades spinning unobstructed.
  5. Turn on the garbage disposal. As with Method 1, you can now plug the unit back in and flip on the switch.

If you’ve made it this far into the tutorial without success, then you will need a professional to give it a look. Need further assistance? Don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re happy to help!

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