Ever since inventor John W. Hammes sold his first InSinkErator to the public in 1940, people have had a love/hate relationship with them. They are great when they work, but cooks cuss them like crazy when they fail. The great news is that if you find yourself with a jammed garbage disposal, then it is usually something you can fix by yourself by following some easy steps to unclog a jammed garbage disposal:
Step 1: Try the Reset Button
The first step is to try the reset button that is usually located on the base of the garbage disposal unit. It is usually red in color and square shaped (see photo below). On some brands, like Waste King, the reset button is on the front of the unit at the bottom. Push the button in and see if it remains depressed. If it does, then turn on the cold water and try to operate the disposal, it should spin up normally. If the button won't remain depressed (keeps popping out) it is likely that your disposal is overheating. Wait 10 minutes and try to push the button again. Sometimes this little trick will fix a jammed garbage disposal immediately. If not, read on.
STEP 2: UNPLUG THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL FROM ELECTRICITY
Garbage disposals are electrical units. Before you go any further, make sure that it is unplugged from the electricity. You may have to turn off a circuit breaker to make sure that it gets no power. Keep safety a priority and never work on a garbage disposal that has live electricity running to it.
STEP 3: USE AN ALLEN WRENCH
When your garbage disposal was new, it came with a Hex-head Allen wrench. If you can't locate that wrench any 1/4-inch Allen wrench will do. With the wrench in hand, climb under the sink. Now, on the base of the garbage disposal unit, locate the hole in the middle of garbage disposal. Insert the hex / allen key and using the key, first turn the shaft one complete turn counterclockwise. Then, turn it clockwise until the garbage disposal becomes unjammed. You may have to apply some force to unjam the internal mechanism - don't worry you won't damage it. If the garbage disposal is jammed and making a humming noise, turn it off and follow the instructions here.
STEP 4: UNJAM THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL FROM THE TOP
If the key won't budge at all, you may have something large jammed in the disposal. Usually, small bones or pit fragments can be unjammed from the bottom than using the allen key. If that fails you can take a look from the top. Make sure that the power to the unit is still turned and remove the black rubber spashguard from the kitchen sink. Take a look inside the disposal with a flashlight - see if there is anything jamming the unit. Sometimes bones or even small spoons or forks fall into the unit unnoticed. Try to unjam the unit from the top by using a pair of long nosed pliers or a fork can also work. Once you removed the object from the disposal, repeat step two above with the allen wrench and make sure the disposal spins freely.
STEP 5: RESTORE THE POWER
Now that you have the unit unjammed, then make sure to reconnect the garbage disposal to the power. This usually means that you need to plug the disposal back in or turn the circuit breaker in the opposite direction to turn it back on.
STEP 6: RUN COLD WATER
After unjamming the garbage disposal, turn it on and run cold water down the drain for at least 5 minutes. This helps to remove any remaining food from the unit and helps to ensure that it keeps operating smoothly.
You can be proud that you now know how to fix a jammed garbage disposal by yourself. It is important to keep it unjammed in the future. Start by never putting large bones or large amounts of grease / fat down the drain, as this can cause the unit to become jammed. Also, never put extremely hard to grind items down the drain. Some of these items include bones, celery, fruit pits, eggshells and coffee grounds. If your unit keeps getting jammed, despite not putting bones or any of the food items above down the garbage disposal, you may want to consider upgrading to a newer model with more horsepower.
We have the Insinkerator Evolution Compact with 3/4 horsepower installed in our home and it can handle pretty much everything we throw at it, including bones, fruit pits, coffee grinds and eggshells. We just make sure to run the disposal till it fully clears and leave the water and disposal running for 10 seconds or so more to fully wash everything down the drain.
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Last update on 2023-02-05 at 10:05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API