How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

In most homes, leftover food from plates or dishes is frequently disposed of through the garbage disposal. Additionally, a lot of people utilize it for large house events. But what happens when it clogs?

It can be challenging to identify the source of a clogged garbage disposal since the obstruction might be caused by a single item, multiple items gradually, several items at once, or a non-food object. A clog in the disposal might also come from the structure, the sink drain, or the blades.

How Can I Unclog My Garbage Disposal?

Unclog Garbage Disposal

Most people seem to agree that the simplest way to solve the problem of a clogged garbage disposal is to simply contact a plumber. The simplest option might not necessarily be the quickest or least expensive one, though.

This article will teach you how to unclog a disposal and how to prevent clogs from happening again.

Step 1: Turn off the Power Switch and Unplug the Garbage Disposal

To stay safe at all times, never touch the disposal while it is still powered on. The switch is often located behind the cabinet, on an adjacent wall, or close to the garbage disposal for the majority of systems. Turn off the switch on the main power board if you are unable to find it.

Even after you have switched the power off, avoid sticking your hand into the garbage disposal. Your switch may be broken, turning on the garbage disposal without warning.

Step 2: Inspect the Garbage Disposal

The next step is to check your disposal; a flashlight will come in handy for this. An obstruction in the disposal may be seen if there is a clog. Use pliers or tongs to grasp anything obvious that you can see and get rid of it.

When you turn on your garbage disposal, you’ll occasionally hear the motor hum even while the macerators aren’t turning; this indicates that it’s likely jammed.

Step 3: Make Use of a Natural Cleaner

If the blockage is the result of a buildup of food waste, use 12 cups of vinegar and 14 cups of baking soda to make a natural cleaning solution. Pour the well-mixed solution down the drain. Then, pour hot water down the drain after waiting for 10 to 20 minutes.

Using an organic cleaner is an efficient way to unclog your drain for the bulk of food waste and FOG jams. Try the alternatives below if it doesn’t work.

Step 4: Plunge the Drain

You will need to use a plunger, which is one of the most efficient ways to unclog sinks and drains if the natural cleaning is ineffective. If you have a dishwasher connection hose, it is best to clamp it off before plunging the drain. This aids in preventing the flow of unclean drain water back into the dishwasher.

After dealing with the dishwashing line, lay the plunger over the drain, making sure it completely covers it. Make sure the water in your sink reaches the tip of the plunger. Next, plunge the drain until water begins to flow. Pour hot water down the drain to flush out any leftovers if it starts flowing after you’ve cleaned the garbage disposal.

A drain snake can also come in very handy. The best drain snake to use for unclogging your garbage disposal is a 3/8-inch model that’s about 20 feet long. It’s easy to turn down into the drain. However, 1/4-inch types will also work for most clogs, too.

Step 5: Rotate the Disposal’s Blades Manually

The disposal may occasionally be bound up. The blades will need to be manually rotated, and any debris has to be removed. It is imperative that you switch off the disposal’s electricity entirely before sticking your hand inside of it.

To find the operator for rotating the impeller blades, you may either look under the disposal or put your hand (or an instrument like a wooden spoon) into the drain. You may occasionally need to spin the blades using an Allen wrench. The clog will either disintegrate as you move the blades, or at the very least rotate so you can pick it up by hand.

Step 6: Clean the P-Trap

The S-trap or P-trap is a pipe that resembles a P or an S, and it’s where the waste disposal unit is often attached. Because of an accumulation of material in the P-trap, plunging is occasionally unsuccessful in resolving the problem. In this instance, removing the trap and thoroughly cleaning the pipes is the best approach to get rid of the dirt.

garbage disposal p-trap

Use pliers to unscrew the slip-nut connectors on the drain trap, then place a catch container below it before removing it. Let the food scraps and standing water pour in. If there is debris within the trap, check it and clean it. If it’s clean, look at the trap arm, which is the horizontal pipe that joins the branch drain pipe to the P-trap. When necessary, clean the trap arm. If you can’t completely remove the drain pipe (s), you can manually clear any obstructions using a piece of clothes hanger or something similar.

The drain pipes may also need to be cleared using a drain snake or auger in this situation. It can be worthwhile to purchase a small, hand-controlled drain snake to keep on standby for challenging clogs, depending on the size of your property. You can use it for every drain in your home as many times as needed.

Why Does a Garbage Disposal Get Clogged?

Understanding the root of clogged waste disposal is essential for finding a solution. One cause is food, but there are other factors as well.

Incorrect Types of Food

The idea that garbage disposals can handle whatever food you put inside is common but untrue.

Hard to chop: A garbage disposal can not handle bones, corncobs, pits, ice cubes, or seeds.

Cover the blades to restrict movement: The disposal won’t function effectively if you put stringy materials like spaghetti, asparagus, celery, or banana peels in it.

Similarly, food and water can’t move through if grease, oil, and fat solidify and clog the drain and garbage disposal. Eggshells and coffee grounds produce tiny, sticky granules that are easy to reach in narrow spaces and cause problems. 

Overloading the Garbage Disposal

Another myth is that a garbage disposal can process large amounts of food at once. This is also untrue. You can overwhelm the unit by testing and pushing its limits. The sounds of a buzzing garbage disposal indicate overload. 

When you look into your garbage disposal with a flashlight, you can tell whether it’s overloaded if no food is swirling within. A second sign that the garbage disposal is overloaded is when the water and food mixture back up into the sink.

If you are looking for how to fix the buzz coming from your disposal, you should check out our guide on How to Fix Garbage Disposal Humming. 

Non-Food Objects

Food is the only item that should be put into waste disposal. Non-food items might harm your garbage disposal if they come into contact with it. If a disposal gets in contact with silverware, it emits a grating sound that jams the machine. A sponge, Paper, foil, fabric, plastic, a sponge, a washcloth, and flower plant trimmings also cause clogs and jams, although they make no noise.

Failure to Clean Up Remaining Waste

The disposal enters an “off” state after usage and doesn’t turn back on until it’s time to grind new food. This is not how disposal should be used. Over time, the waste within the device accumulates and obstructs the passage of water.

As a result, after the job of grinding the food is done, the disposal should be left on. In order to remove any waste that has become lodged during that period, turn on the faucet and let the water run for a minute. After that, shut off the gadget.

How to Avoid Clogs in Garbage Disposals

If you use preventative measures, you won’t need to use unclogging techniques. However, you must adhere to these procedures consistently to prevent clogs:

1. Read the instructions for the disposal to find the list of permitted and prohibited items for the unit. Take their recommendations to heart.

2. Choose the meals that go in the garbage with care. Throw away corn cobs, seeds, pits, bones, peels, and ice cubes. Oils, animal fats, and grease should also be poured into a container. After that, dispose of the container in the trash. Keep non-food objects away from the waste disposal inlet as well.

3. Utilize a drain or sink strainer. You may avoid having to inspect every food item by using a sink strainer to trap unwanted food bits and objects before they enter the garbage disposal.

4. Food scraps should be chopped before being put in the garbage disposal. Large volumes of food waste cannot be handled by garbage disposal because of its limited capacity. Breaking down the food waste into smaller bits is made easier by cutting it into pieces that are one square inch or smaller.

5. Slowly feed the garbage disposal. Give the garbage disposal a modest amount of food at a time (12 cups or less is ideal). Before adding the next batch, let the device finish getting rid of the waste. Although the procedure is slower, it prevents you from feeding the machine too much food.

6. Use the garbage disposal frequently. Both not utilizing the device and loading it with the wrong meals are detrimental. Unused trash disposals corrode and rust over time, and freeze anytime the appliance is turned on. In order to avoid wasting water, periodically turn on the cold water while the device is not in use and let it run for thirty seconds.

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