How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal with Standing Water

So your sink is full of water that won’t drain, and your disposal appears clogged! This can cause an enormous mess, especially when you are busy preparing food for a party, a holiday event, or simply a few friends around.

The good news is that most problems are fixable. That also applies to your waste disposal, which may be cleared out using a few do-it-yourself tips we’ll cover in this blog. If flushing water down the obstruction has proven unsuccessful, it’s time to get your hands dirty.

What’s Causing the Clog?

Often, when the drain is clogged, we mistakenly believe the garbage disposal is. However, since it’s simpler to perform, you should follow the technique for cleaning the disposal itself before going to the bother of removing the P-trap to clear the drain.

When you think of how your device works, you could assume that your disposal has a rotating blade, but only a few do. The majority have a canister with serrated edges similar to a cheese grater and one or two revolving impellers similar to the agitators in a washing machine. The rotor connected to the impellers rotates, and the impellers force food waste against the serrations while the rotor rotates. 

Then, a space between the canister and rotor allows the shredded food to move to the drain pipe. Debris frequently gets lodged in the narrow space, especially stringy items like celery, starchy meals like potatoes, and tiny bones. When the space is completely clogged with debris, water cannot flow through and backs up into the sink.

How Can I Get Rid of the Standing Water in My Garbage Disposal?

Unclog a Garbage Disposal with Standing Water

Homeowners can frequently handle these minor plumbing problems by themselves without needing to hire a plumber or maintenance professional.

Before implementing the following recommendations, remember that combining water and electricity may be hazardous. Cut off the electricity to the disposal using a switch that can be found on the or beneath a cabinet before trying to unclog it. If you cannot locate the power switch for whatever reason, turn off the main breaker for the house until you are done. Always wear heavy gloves to shield your hands from the cutting edges of garbage disposals.

Easy Drain Blockages

Finding the source of the clog is the first thing you may attempt. Use a flashlight to peer down the drain of your blocked kitchen sink. In some instances, food particles or foreign items that are trapped are visibly present. If the impediment is visible, get a pair of pliers and gently remove them from the disposal.

Wait for five to ten minutes for the unit to cool before turning on the water and disposal to determine whether it was the source of the problem. Also, don’t forget to switch the power back on. (You’d be shocked at how frequently that simple step is overlooked.) Continue reading if that didn’t resolve the issue.

Plunger Technique


The best recommendation is to use a sink plunger to clear the obstructions. You can get a plunger from Clorox Store on Amazon.  Ensure the plunger is suctioning to the sink before placing it over the drain. You can’t plunge the drain if it doesn’t suction.

After the plunger has been thoroughly suctioned, aggressively plunge it up and down for the next few minutes. Depending on the blockage, you might plunge the drain six to eight times in a row before rechecking it.

During this period, you will hear water flowing in the pipes, and the plunger’s pressure will increase. After several minutes of plunging, the obstruction should vanish, and the water should flow out of the sink. When the water begins to drain, turn on the hot water and let it flow for three to six minutes to flush the disposal and pipes.

The Dowel Method

Oak Dowel Cutoffs
Oak Dowel Cutoffs

If plunging failed, a blockage inside the disposal machine must have produced a jam in the blades. The ideal solution for this problem is to reactivate those blades using a long, solid wooden dowel. Make sure the unit and circuit breaker are turned off before doing this!

First, use a basin or scoop to remove stagnant water from the sink. The dowel should then be inserted into the opening near the garbage disposal. Third, insert the dowel into the unit’s bottom and manually rotate the blades to unclog the trash disposal.

After you’ve removed the obstruction and moved the blades, pull the out dowel and pour hot water down the kitchen sink, pipes, and disposal for at least six minutes.

Resetting Garbage Disposal

Are you prepared to solve some problems? Although the following procedure is slightly more complicated, all you’ll need is an Allen wrench or an InSinkErator jam buster wrench. You can find both of these pieces of equipment at your neighborhood hardware shop and most grocery stores.

Check that the unit is turned off and that all water has been drained or removed. Insert the wrench at the disposal’s bottom and crank it in both directions back and forth. Turn it until it can freely rotate in all directions.

Additionally, you’ll see a red button known as the overload protector. When there is a problem, it serves as a reset button and enables the disposal to shut off. Press it if it is stretched down and wait five minutes to ensure it stays up. Run the water to see whether the garbage disposal and drains are working.

Clean the P-Trap in

The waste disposal device is frequently linked to the S-trap or P-trap, a pipe with a P- or S-shaped appearance. Plunging occasionally fails to solve the issue because of a buildup of debris in the P-trap. The best method to get rid of clogs in this situation is to remove the trap and carefully clean the pipes.

After removing the drain trap’s slip-nut connections using pliers:

  1. Set a catch container beneath it.
  2. Allow the leftover food and water to stream in.
  3. Check the trap and clean it if there is junk inside.
  4. Check the trap arm, the horizontal pipe that connects the branch drainage pipe to the P-trap, to see if it is clean.
  5. Clear the trap arm as needed. If you cannot remove the drain pipe(s) entirely, you can manually remove any clogs with a piece of clothing hanger or anything similar.

In this case, cleaning the drain pipes with a drain snake or auger can also be necessary. Depending on the size of your property, it may be helpful to invest in a small, hand-operated drain snake to keep on hand for complex obstructions. You may apply it as often as necessary for each drain in your home.

How to Keep Garbage Disposals From Clogging

You might avoid the need for unclogging procedures by taking precautionary steps. To avoid blockages, you must, however, regularly follow these instructions:

1. Read the disposal instructions to get a list of acceptable and prohibited waste for the unit. Consider their suggestions seriously.

2. Choose the food waste that will end up in the garbage disposal with caution. Items you can put in a garbage disposal include Corn cobs, pits, seeds, peels, bones, and ice cubes. Grease, oils, and animal fats must all be put into a container before and later dumped the container in the trash. Likewise, keep non-food items away from the disposal.

3. Use a filter in the sink. Using a sink strainer to catch undesired food pieces and items before they go into your garbage disposal can save you from having to scrutinize every food item.

4. Chop food wastes before putting them down your garbage disposal. Due to the garbage disposal’s capacity limitations, it cannot manage large amounts of food waste. The food waste may be broken down into tiny pieces more easily by chopping it into one square inch or smaller pieces.

5. Put food scraps in the disposal gradually (12 cups or less is ideal). Allow the machine to finish removing the waste before feeding the next batch. The process takes longer, but it stops you from overloading the appliance.

6. Run the garbage disposal frequently. Not using the gadget and filling it with the incorrect foods are harmful. Garbage disposals left for long may rust and corrode with time and freeze whenever they are powered on. When the gadget is not in use, occasionally switch on the cold water and let it run for 30 seconds.

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