How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

Here are the steps to unclog a garbage disposal is clogged:

1. Get under the sink where your garbage disposal lives.
2. Look on the bottom of the garbage disposal for the red, square Reset button and the slot for the Allen Key.
3. Press the garbage disposal Reset button.
4. Insert the Allen Key, and turn it counterclockwise and clockwise to free the blockage until you feel the blades turning freely.
5. Turn on the water to flush any leftover debris. Or insert your sink stopper, fill up the sink a bit, then release the stopper to flush the debris that way.
6. Turn on the garbage disposal again, and you should hear the hum of a working garbage disposal.

  • Tools needed: Allen Key
  • Pro Tip: Drop a few drops of lemon juice down the drain or grind up pieces of lemon or orange peels to prevent garbage disposal smells from emanating into your kitchen.

Garbage Disposal Not Working?

You may have come to our site originally for a clogged drain. Now you need to know a bit more about garbage disposal troubleshooting. First identify the issue:

  • Is the garbage disposal clogged?
  • Is the garbage disposal leaking?
  • Is the garbage disposal stuck?
  • Or is some part broken and you need a garbage disposal repair?

If you hear the garbage disposal humming only briefly, it’s likely the circuit has tripped. In this case, proceed to the steps for unclogging it. If you flip the switch and hear that familiar hum, it’s receiving power. Keep this in mind for when you’ve completed your DIY fix on your garbage disposal problems and need to test your handiwork.

How To Fix Garbage Disposal - Hoffmann Brothers

What Can You Put Down a Garbage Disposal? Avoid These Things

Can you put eggshells in the garbage disposal? Potato Peels? Be sure to avoid putting any of the following down the garbage disposal:

  • Fats, cooking oils, and grease (FOG)1
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Potato peels
  • Banana peels
  • Pasta
  • Rice and beans
  • Fruit pits
  • Seafood shells
  • Paint

Also be sure to avoid using chemicals to unclog the garbage disposal like you would a sink; it can damage the parts. Nor is it advised to use bleach and water to clean the garbage disposal.

Best Practices To Avoid Kitchen Garbage Disposal Problems

Here are the habits to form for long use of your garbage disposal:

  • Scrape food scraps into the trash rather than the sink
  • Use a sink strainer to catch scraps and other debris before they drop into the garbage disposal2
  • Use a flashlight, tongs and/or a plunger to get debris out that has fallen into the disposal or gotten jammed
  • Have a designated grease container that can be thrown in the trash once it is filled
  • Wipe grease from cookware with paper towels before washing it
  • Use baking soda and white vinegar as a gentler alternative to chemicals to break through a blockage
  • Run water while you run the garbage disposal
  • If you follow these best practices and run through the troubleshooting steps and still find the garbage disposal won’t turn on or work properly, call your plumber for an appointment.

1. [https://www.nnva.gov/2272/FOG-and-Food-Waste—Residential]

2. [https://www.gallupnm.gov/526/Trash-the-Grease]