How to Unjam a Garbage Disposal: 3 Easy Methods

Many folks dispose of all their food leftovers using their garbage disposal. However, most disposals can’t get rid of just anything; if misused, it might burn out the engine, clog the flywheel, or dull the shredder ring.

To understand how your garbage disposal shreds food scrap and what it looks like inside, read our article What Does The Inside Of A Garbage Disposal Look Like? If you are unsure of what each of those components is.

How Can I Unjam My Garbage Disposal?

Jamming is one of the most frequent issues that arise with garbage disposals. Your garbage disposal may occasionally turn on but not grind anything, and it will only hum before turning off. In this instance, the flywheel’s impeller and the shredder ring are both obstructed by something. If the motor starts to overheat, the device will turn off automatically.

We have some straightforward do-it-yourself advice to help you avoid paying a service call charge or visiting the plumber if you have a home warranty.

Pressing the Reset Button

Remove the garbage disposal’s stopper. Pull the cable out of the outlet to ensure the garbage disposal unit cannot operate while you work on it. Being safe is preferable to being sorry.

The garbage disposal’s bottom has a reset or thermal overload button. The reset button’s location depends on the garbage disposal model.

Insinkaerator Garbage Disposal Reset Button
Insinkaerator Garbage Disposal

If you can’t find the button on your device, check our article on Where Is to Find Reset Button On A Garbage Disposal. Crawl beneath it to find a red button. Push it back inside the unit if it appears to be poking out. This could immediately clear the clog.

If the button appears again after 15 minutes, wait. When the disposal becomes too hot, the red button comes out. After allowing it to cool, push the button one more. Repeat until the button is securely in place.

Fill the sink with cold water. Activate the faucet. Ensure the water is cold before letting it flow down the disposal and the drain for one or two minutes.

Test the garbage disposal by reconnecting the unit and ensuring it is switched on. The reset button must stay sturdy when the disposal blades start whirling again. Whether the grinders are still stuck, check to see if the equipment is still operating correctly by listening for the motor to hum.

If the device isn’t humming and you are sure your electricity is on, it’s definitely broken and has to be replaced.

Rotating the Disposal Blades

Go below the sink and locate the opening on the disposal’s bottom after unplugging the appliance. It will be in the middle and hexagonal. Put the head of the wrench that came with the garbage disposal unit in the hole.

Insinkaerator Garbage Disposal Disposal Blade Opening

If you don’t have the tool that came with the device, get a 14 in (6.4 mm) Allen wrench from MULWARK Store on Amazon.

Turn the motor shaft of the garbage disposal using the wrench. To begin, crank the wrench counterclockwise as far as possible. Then, crank it clockwise until no further movement is possible. Keep turning the wrench back and forth until you can turn the wrench entirely in a circle.

After removing the wrench, open the water faucet and let the water run for a few minutes. The water aids in the removal of any material that remains on the blades. Connect the device to the outlet and start the garbage disposal. If you could turn the wrench, the device ought to function normally once more.

If the device does not operate or you cannot spin it, disconnect it, drain the water, and try again.

Manually Removing Blockages

Before you proceed, go to your home’s fuse box to switch off the electricity. It is typically placed in the basement or on the ground floor. Locate the switch that controls the disposal unit and turn it off.

However, you may check whether there is electricity in the outlet by connecting another appliance to a wall socket and trying to turn it on. Another option is to turn on the light above the disposal unit, which only functions if the switch regulates the outlet the device is hooked into. 

To check for obstructions, look down the sink drain. Grab a flashlight, then shine it into the garbage disposal and sink drain. Since blockages generally occur here, shine the light across the unit’s outside border. Find the disposal’s blades’ tiny teeth on the outside and check for obstructions.

Avoid inserting your hand inside the garbage disposal for safety reasons. Instead, get a set of pliers or kitchen tongs from your toolkit. Insert them into the garbage disposal by pushing them via the sink, and use them to remove any obstructions you find.

If the blades are still jammed, spin them using a specific wrench for garbage disposals. Get a disposal wrench and replace the Allen wrench. It has two prongs that resemble claws on one end. Insert the prongs into the drain until they are wrapped around the unit’s blades. Rotate the blades in a clockwise and counterclockwise direction until they are free to move.

This method of spinning the blades demands a lot of force. Continue rotating the wrench back and forth until the blades are loose.

When Should You Contact a Professional?

The abovementioned procedures might not always be effective in resolving the issue of a jammed or malfunctioning disposal issue. Occasionally, disposal motors might burn out, necessitating a complete machine replacement. You’ll probably need to hire a plumber to replace the unit in this situation.

In rare circumstances, a breaker or reset button may trip due to a home electrical system problem. A certified electrician would need to handle such a problem.


Where does Allen wrench go in the garbage disposal?

To fit the socket on the bottom of the trash disposal housing, you will need an Allen (hex) wrench. Most garbage disposals come with a little wrench explicitly designed for this use. (It can be found somewhere at the bottom of the base cabinet under your sink.) You may use a regular 1/4-inch Allen wrench if you don’t have a disposal wrench.

The motor housing has a tiny, circular hole where it is located. To release the jam or ensure the impellers are released, insert the hex wrench into this socket and then rock it back and forth. The impeller hub is directly attached to this socket, and turning the wrench generally frees whatever is obstructing the disposal.

How Much Does Repairing a Garbage Disposal Cost?

The good thing is that you can do most repairs yourself.

Alternatively, as covered in our post on how to replace a garbage disposal, you may replace it with a brand-new one if your disposal is well beyond repair.

Depending on the type, a new garbage disposal machine may cost anywhere from $50 to $350.

Do your research to get a suitable model before hiring a plumber or small-appliance technician to install a disposal. Make sure the replacement will work with the sink’s current setup.

How many years does a garbage disposal last?

If it has been at least ten years since your previous remodeling or trash disposal installation job, you should give a replacement of your disposal significant consideration. The average disposal has a lifespan of around ten years, after which they could start clogging more frequently.

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