How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

garbage disposal repair

Maintaining a home can be expensive, and many homeowners like to take care of necessary household repairs on their own to avoid the expense of hiring a professional repairman. Unclogging a garbage disposal is one of the tasks homeowners often try to tackle themselves.

While getting rid of a clog it might seem simple, it’s actually more involved than you might think, and is one job that could require electric repair service. If you want to give it a shot yourself first, follow these steps to get a disposal running again.

  1. Turn off the power source. Before even touching the garbage disposal, it’s essential to first turn off the power. This does not refer to the switch on the wall, but the power switch on the side of the disposal unit located under the sink. If for some reason you can’t locate the power switch, you’ll need to turn off the power supply from the breaker box.
  2. Check for obstructions. Once the power has been shut off, remove the splash guard from the top of the sink drain and use a flashlight to check for any obvious obstructions. If you spot something, use a pair of pliers or a similar tool to remove it. Never place your bare hand inside a garbage disposal!
  3. Get the blades moving. If your search for an obstacle comes up empty, you’ll next want to check to make sure the impeller (the area that holds the cutting blades) isn’t jammed with food waste or other materials. Don’t try to use your hand to move the blades; instead, use a long wooden spoon handle to gently wiggle the blades back and forth until they start moving freely when pressure is applied.
  4. Take a break. Once the blades start spinning easily again, give it about 15 minutes before turning the power back on. This will give the motor a chance to cool down. If the motor was already cool before you unstopped the drain, this waiting period can be waived.
  5. Give it a test run. With the motor cool and the power back on, it’s time to test the disposal to make sure it’s working again. Be aware that stuffing food waste down the drain is not the way to do it; if the clog is still there, this will just make the situation worse. Instead, take a step back, flip the switch on and listen. If you hear the familiar sound of the blades whirring, then you’ve succeeded in unclogging the drain. A humming sound with no blade movement indicates the clog is still there. Other noises you’re not familiar with could be evidence of further problems.

Need a Hand? Call Handyman Connection

If you’re having disposal issues and want to ensure that the job’s done right, give Handyman Connection a call at 1-800-88-HANDY. Once you’ve set up a consultation with one of our experienced handyman contractors, they will be able to inform you of any necessary repairs and provide you with a free estimate!

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