Dealing with a clogged or backed-up garbage disposal is no fun: smells, the mess, not to mention the fact that you can’t use the appliance as needed. Garbage disposals experience problems over time for many reasons, but if you don’t want to have to replace your entire unit, the important thing is to act quickly to save it. Keep reading to learn how to clear your backed-up garbage disposal in five easy steps, courtesy of our expert plumbers at Smith’s Plumbing Services.
The 5 Steps to Fix Your Backed-Up Garbage Disposal
- Make Sure your Garbage Disposal’s power is turned off: The last thing you want is to get your hand stuck in your garbage disposal while trying to fix it and end up with a serious injury. That’s why before you begin the process of cleaning out your garbage disposal, you’ll want to unplug it from the outlet it is attached to. You can also turn off the circuit breaker that’s supplying your disposal with power.
- Inspect the Disposal Thoroughly: Once your garbage disposal has been safely turned off, you should feel free to examine it for clogs. You’ll probably want to grab a flashlight and maybe a pair of gloves, as sticking your hand down the drain to look for a clog can be pretty grody. If you can find an obstruction with your hands, grab a tool like a pair of tongs or pliers – even a fork or your hands will do – and begin digging that blockage out. If your garbage disposal is still not working after that, you will need to—
- Use a Plunger: For severe garbage disposal back-ups, a plunger may be necessary. Make sure you are using a sink plunger, i.e. the kind with a flat cup, rather than a toilet plunger, which is the kind with a flange on the end (you can also buy “master” or “pro” sink plungers now, which are designed to be closer to what the professionals use.) Also, before you start plunging, fill the sink with a few inches of water, as a certain amount of moisture is pretty much essential for your plunger to work.
- Concoct a Homemade Drain Cleaner: If your garbage disposal is still backed up after you have taken the above steps, consider using a drain cleaner to get rid of the blockage. But rather than going with store-bought options, which tend to contain a lot of toxic chemicals that are bad for your pipes, go with a homemade option. You can create an effective drain cleaner easily by simply mixing equal parts baking soda and vinegar. Dump this solution down your sink drain, wait 15-30 minutes, then try to flush the back-up out with hot water, running the tap for at least a minute. Finally, once you have done all this, you should…
- Conduct a Garbage Disposal Test: Before you can be totally sure your garbage disposal is no longer backed up, you should plug it back in and test it out. Dump some light food waste (perhaps a lemon peel, to help it smell better) down the kitchen sink and run the disposal. If you can hear it working, congratulations, this process is done. If not, it’s probably time to call a professional plumbing technician.
How Do I Prevent Garbage Disposal Clogs in the Future?
While a lot of people pretty much assume once they’ve moved into their home or installed a new one that they never need to touch their garbage disposal again, this is not true. Even the highest quality garbage disposal will break down over time (and sooner rather than later, if it is not used properly.) Sometimes garbage disposals stop working because the impeller (commonly referred to as the “blades,” which are not a thing garbage disposals actually have) has stopped working. Other times, the problem lies with an internal malfunction. However, the most common reasons garbage disposals become backed up and break down is improper usage. As we’ve discussed on this blog before, garbage disposals are for light food waste only. They are NOT a second trash can. There are plenty of foods you should never put down your garbage disposal, including fats, oils, and grease, eggshells and coffee grinds, hard items like bones, fibrous foods, such as celery, asparagus, or sprouts, and starches including peels, beans, rice, pasta, and more.
Fortunately, when your garbage disposal is on the fritz, you can always count on Smith’s Plumbing Services. We offer a range of kitchen plumbing options, as well as comprehensive drain cleaning. Plus with 24-hour emergency repairs, not to mention affordable financing choices, there’s always a good reason to call our experts at Smith’s Plumbing Services.