Unjamming A Garbage Disposal


Alex wrote:
>My garbage disposal is clogged.  I tried with lots of hot water and a
> declogging compound, but no dice. Any suggestions?

Dan Hicks <danhicks@ieee.org> replied:

Look for the wrench that came with your disposer (picture).  It may be taped to the side of the unit or to the cabinet wall.  If not, dig through your junk drawer.  It's a rod maybe 6 inches long with the ends bent over at a 45 degree angle. The rod is a hexagon shape. (An Allen/hex wrench -- jim) You stick the short end into the matching hole in the bottom center of the disposal and use the long end to turn it back and forth until you break free whatever's got the disposal stuck.

Lacking the wrench, get a flashlight and just look into the unit. Make sure the switch is off (or unplug the unit under the sink) and then just reach in there and dig out whatever's in there. Generally you will find a small piece of bone or what-have-you that's stuck in bottom. Sometimes something like needle-nosed pliers helps. (Note: If you have used caustic drain cleaners in the unit you will need to flush them out thoroughly before reaching in.)

If you can't unstick it, get a broom handle and stick it in the unit. If you look in there you will see two or four small projections on the bottom plate that spins around. The idea with the broom handle is to pry on one of those projections to force the plate to move. Work it back and forth until the plate spins free.

Sometimes the unit will overload while stuck (because you don't turn it off quickly enough when you realize it's stalled). In that case a button on the side of the unit will pop out (circuit breaker -- jim). You then need to find the button and push it back in.

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