It doesn’t matter how it happened, the fact is that glass is in your garbage disposal. First thing first, make sure you turn your disposal off. Glass in a garbage disposal can cause you a major headache if you don’t handle it properly - but don't worry - we’ve got you covered with how to handle broken glass in your garbage disposal.
We’ve all been there, washing a vase that for some reason appears to self-destruct or having a glass slip from our fingers and shatter on contact. Not to mention, if you have kids, something is going to break eventually, and chances are, if it’s in the sink, you’ll get glass in the drain.
Again, to safely remove broken glass from your garbage disposal, make sure the garbage disposal is turned off and preferably unplugged, or the fuse has been switched off- we will want to remove as much of the glass as possible before turning the disposal back on. We’ll cover exactly how and why below, and also if you’ve already turned on your disposal we'll cover that too.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO DEAL WITH GLASS IN GARBAGE DISPOSALS
When dealing with glass in garbage disposals, you don’t want to just jam your hand down into it. That’s a good way to slice up your hand. Blindly looking for sharp, broken glass, is dangerous - don't do it, we warned you!
Also, again: Unplug the disposal, completely, before you put anything in it. Your hand, a tool, anything. Just having it turned off is not enough.
Here are the tools you will need to remove glass stuck in the garbage disposal:
Needle-Nose Pliers And Flashlight
Needle-nose pliers help you pick out pieces of the glass. Hopefully, you don’t have too many pieces. Your best bet is to pick up as many of the glass shards as possible.
You will also want a flashlight. You can use the flash on your cellphone, although it will be easier to use a handheld flashlight.
You might want to invest in a small penlight flashlight that you can hold in your mouth while you navigate the disposal with your pliers. You can also use a head-mounted lamp for this.
As the disposal has rubber flaps (splashguard) protecting the interior to block most objects from the disposal, you’ll need one hand to hold the rubber away, or better yet remove your splashguard completely (depending on your model). If you can't remove the splash guard, so if you can hold the rubber with one hand, use the pliers with another, and then have a head-mounted light - this way it will be much easier to remove glass from your garbage disposal.
Wet Vacuum Or Shop Vacuum
If you have one handy, a wet-vacuum or a shop vacuum can be a great help, especially if you have alot of fine shards of glass stuck in your disposal. Find the right attachment that will fit into the disposal, preferably an attachment with a slanted edge opening so it has enough suction to pick up all the shards. Shop Vacs have excellent suction and can handle moisture.
Step 1. Removing Larger Chunks Of Glass
Larger chunks of glass may have jammed your disposal if the disposal was running when the glass fell in - in this case you might hear a humming sound coming from the garbage disposal. If this is the case, immediately power down the disposal and gain access to the garbage disposal through the kitchen sink as outlined above.
Remove any large pieces of glass that you come across with long nosed pliers - again we repeat - DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND DOWN THE DISPOSAL TO REMOVE GLASS - you will inevitably cut your hand. Clear as many of the large chunks of glass as you can. Make sure you carefully dispose of the glass you remove by disposing them wrapped in a crushed paper bag - this will prevent the glass from injuring others when they handle the garbage or from ripping open your trash bags.
Step 2. Removing The Smaller Pieces Of Glass
If you ran the disposal without knowing glass was inside, you will have likely have smaller shards or pieces of glass stuck inside of the disposal. It is likely at this point that your garbage disposal is also jammed and making a humming noise. If you haven't, switch off the garbage disposal and disconnect it's power supply or turn off it's fuse.
After using the needle-nose pliers to remove the large pieces, you’ll be left with smaller pieces that you probably to small or fine to pull out with the pliers. When this is the case, you’ll need to try a different tactic to remove the smaller pieces.
Once again, we suggest using a shop vac, or wet-dry vac, for this job. Good suction helps dislodge glass particles stuck to the surface with water drops still in the disposal.
It may help to concentrate the suction of the vacuum hose with one of the slender attachments. If you’re worried about scratching up the attachment, you can cover the sides with some electrical tape to give it a bit of protective padding from the blades.
After you’ve finished moving the vacuum around and sucking out as much of the glass shards as possible, the next step is to make sure your garbage disposal is not jammed
Step 3. Unjam Your Garbage Disposal
In this final step, we assume you have removed all the large pieces of glass, and also as much of the small glass shards as you could. Now we will want to see if the blades can turn freely. Locate the allen key that came with your disposal (or find any 1/4 inch hex wrench or allen key) and insert it into the center of the disposal unit (see image below).
You will then want to turn the allen key clockwise then anticlockwise a few times in each direction. As there is glass in your disposal, it may require some force to free up the flywheel and blades inside the disposal - don't worry, applying a moderate amount of force to the allen key wont damage your disposal. If it wont budge, try going clockwise and anti clockwise quickly to see if you can free it up.
If it still won't budge, try looking down the top again and seeing if you can spot any hard-to-spot pieces that you might have missed the first time around. It is important to remove as much glass as possible, especially the large chunks.
Step 4. Run The Disposal
There is a large chance you were unable to remove every single piece of glass from the disposal. Sometimes when the glass shards are too small, it is difficult to remove everything - luckily your garbage disposal should be able to handle any fine glass shards that may remain.
Now that you’ve done all that you can in removing the glass from your garbage disposal, you’ll want to run the sink's cold water and turn the disposal on. When you do this, make sure to have your face, and hands, away from the disposal. The disposal should come on as normal - the water and the turning blades will wash away the remainder of the glass.
Listen carefully to the disposal as it runs. You shouldn’t hear any pieces bouncing around. If you do stop, and repeat steps 1 through 3 again till all glass is removed.
If you hear grinding, or the garbage disposal running but producing a different sound, you’ll need to turn off the disposal and the water. Repeat step 3 above with the allen key and make sure the allen key can turn the insides of the garbage disposal freely. Now, drop a tray of ice cubes down into the sink. Ice is a great way to clean up debris that is stuck to the bottom side of the blades.
With the ice in the disposal, turn on the disposal and let the ice grind up, then turn the faucet on and let it run until all the ice has been washed down the drain.
Still Isn’t Working
If you’re still having problems with the glass in your disposal (as in you can hear it bouncing around your disposal, but you still can't remove it), you don’t want to leave it running. There’s just too much of a possibility for the glass to kick back up at some point in time. And you can't go around wear protective eyewear every single time you’re around the sink. So, if you are facing this problem, you have two potential solutions to the issue.
First, you can replace the garbage disposal yourself. If you’ve had it for years (if you bought the house and it came with the current disposal, or if you’ve had it for a good 10 or more years) now is as good of a time as any to replace it.
You can purchase a solid disposal for pretty cheap, although you can also buy more expensive disposals with more powerful motors and stronger blades. The removal and installation process isn’t difficult, so you should be able to perform the installation on your own.
The second option is to contact your local plumber. This is a quick job for them, although they may need to disconnect the disposal and open it up to remove the glass. Either way, it is important to remove the glass.
When you have a glass in garbage disposal problem, hopefully most of the glass will be large chunks. The large chunks are easiest to work around and won’t take as long to remove. While you should always look through the disposal to see if there are smaller pieces of glass stuck, the larger chunk removal process is relatively straight forward.
Maybe it's Time To Consider A Replacement Garbage Disposal
In 2023 there are many garbage disposal options that are suitable for any budget - if the glass in your garbage disposal can't be removed, then it's time for a replacement. We would recommend a brand that has a removable black rubber splashguard from Insinkerator or Waste King so that it would be easier to take a look into the disposal if glass gets stuck in your disposal again in the future.
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Last update on 2023-02-05 at 10:05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API