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How To Fix A Garbage Disposal

The disposal is a finicky household appliance and everyone should know, at least a little bit about how to fix a garbage disposal when it clogs. There are some simple things you can do to keep garbage disposal clogs to a minimum. Don’t expect it to devour and digest everything. For example, don’t throw corncobs, artichokes, avocado pits, or fish and chicken bones down a disposal and expect it to continue working without a clog. What usually causes a clog is:

  • Dropping a foreign object, usually a spoon or fork into the disposal
  • Feeding garbage in too rapidly, or
  • Failing to run enough water to completely flush out the drain pipes while garbage is being processed

How To Fix A Garbage Disposal

Once you’re faced with a clog, you should never use chemical drain cleaners in a disposal. The chemicals are highly corrosive and may damage rubber or plastic parts. What SHOULD you do?

First, shut off the electrical power switch for the disposal.  This switch is located under the cabinet, near the disposal, or on a wall nearby. If you don’t find a switch, go to the main power panel and turn off the breaker. Never put your hand in the disposal. Remember that the switch may be defective, so keep your hands out of the disposal even when power to the machine is turned off.

Take a look in the disposal. A flashlight may shed some light on the problem — you may see a large object caught in the disposal. If an object caused the stoppage, use a pair of pliers to reach into the disposal and remove it.

Wait 15 minutes for the disposal motor to cool then turn on the power and push the reset or overload protector button that is located on the bottom of the disposal.

If it is still clogged, head to your neighborhood Ace Hardware store to pick up a Jam Buster Wrench. The Jam Buster is a large L-shaped hex wrench designed specifically for garbage disposals. Insert the hex wrench into the opening in the center of the disposal’s bottom, then turn the wrench back and forth until the impeller is freed.