How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal: 5 Tried-and-True Tips

Our Expert Tips

Your garbage disposal is one of the most beneficial tools in your kitchen. It allows you to grind up unwanted food particles with a flip of a switch, enabling them to flow down the drain without harming your pipe system. That’s why it’s crucial to keep your garbage disposal unit in excellent condition if you want it to last. 

However, maintaining garbage disposals is easier said than done. They sometimes clog and require a bit of elbow grease to clear. But how do you unclog a garbage disposal? 

Luckily, our experts at Pride Services are here to help you with all your garbage disposal needs in and around Island Park, NY. 

At Pride Services, we provide first-class Oceanside plumbing services to residents in need. Our team put together a brief guide to teach homeowners how to unclog a garbage disposal safely and efficiently. Continue reading to learn some of the best ways to unjam a garbage disposal.

Causes of a Clogged Garbage Disposal

Before you find out how to unclog a garbage disposal, you need to learn what causes blockages. Below are some of the primary causes of a clogged garbage disposal.

Unsuitable Food

Many people believe garbage disposals can handle any food you throw its way. However, this is not the case. Most garbage disposals can’t mince specific food types. As a result, they become clogged or damaged. 

Robust and rigid food items like corncobs, seeds, and chicken bones put too much strain on garbage disposals, causing them to break down or jam. Long, stringy foods like pasta, banana peels, and asparagus tend to wrap around garbage disposals’ impeller blades, resulting in severe clogs and repairs. Other non-compatible food items include: 

  • Celery
  • Corn husks
  • Lettuce
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Pits
  • Beans
  • Potato peels 

Oils, fats, and grease also clog garbage disposals as well as your pipes. Grease latches onto your pipes and hardens when it cools, forming a near-impenetrable barrier that obstructs flowing water. Always pour grease, oil, and fats in a glass container and throw it in the trash to prevent clogs and expensive repairs.

Too Much Food at Once

Garbage disposals can only handle so much food at one time. When you overload a garbage disposal with food, it becomes overwhelmed and eventually clogs or breaks. You can tell when a garbage disposal becomes overloaded when it starts making a slight humming noise. 

Once a garbage disposal becomes overloaded, its efficiency declines, allowing large food pieces that could clog the line to flow down the drain. It’s best to feed items to the garbage disposal one by one to prevent issues and maximize efficiency.

Non-Food Items

Sometimes non-food items fall down the garbage disposal and cause severe clogs or damage. Although some things like flower clippings might seem safe to throw down the garbage disposal, they have trouble breaking down and sometimes get stuck within the pipes. It’s vital to only toss appropriate food items down the garbage disposal to prevent issues from arising.

How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

Unclogging a garbage disposal is easier than most people think. However, not every method provides adequate results. Some will do more harm than good and even damage drain lines. 

Many people believe store-bought drain cleaners will clear their garbage disposal within a matter of minutes. Although many will clear stubborn clogs and blockages, they can also corrode your pipes. It’s best to avoid drain cleaners and use one of the safer methods listed below.

Reset the Garbage Disposal

Sometimes fixing a clogged garbage disposal is as easy as pressing the reset button. Follow the steps listed below to reset the unit safely.

Step One: Unplug the Garbage Disposal

Always unplug your garbage disposal to prevent accidents and injuries.

Step Two: Push the Reset Button

Once you unplug the garbage disposal, locate and press the reset button. It’s usually a little red button underneath the unit. If you see the button sticking out, push it back in.

Step Three: Turn the Kitchen Sink On

After pressing the reset button, turn on the kitchen sink and let water flow through the pipes for at least 60 seconds. The water needs to be cold for the process to work correctly.

Step Four: Plug In the Garbage Disposal and Turn it On

Finally, plug the garbage disposal back in and turn on the unit. If the impeller blades don’t spin or the motor starts humming, you need to call a professional plumber or try another method.

Pour Vinegar and Baking Soda Down the Garbage Disposal

Pouring vinegar and baking soda down the garbage disposal is one of the best ways to clear grease blockages. The mixture dissolves hardened grease while cutting through food clogs. It’s a cheap and easy solution that can save you from costly repair fees. 

Start by pouring some baking soda into the garbage disposal. Once it settles, pour vinegar down the unit, and give it 20 minutes to dissolve the clog. After that, use hot water to wash away the concoction and whatever caused the obstruction.

Manually Clear the Blockage

Sometimes you can manually remove gunk and food particles to resolve troublesome clogs. To do this, point a flashlight down the garbage disposal unit and see if you can find anything clogging the drain. If you find obstructions, use long needle nose pliers or tongs to retrieve anything hindering the garbage disposal. Continue the process until you resolve the clog.

Use a Plunger

Plungers use water pressure to loosen debris blocking your garbage disposal’s drainpipe. Follow the instructions listed below to clear clogs using a plunger. 

  1. Cover the garbage disposal drain with a plunger
  2. Use a drain stopper to plug the other drain
  3. Fill the sink with water until it reaches the plunger’s rounded bottom, creating a watertight seal
  4. Move the plunger up and down for several minutes to unclog the drain
  5. Remove any loose debris that appears after plunging
  6. Let cold water flow through the drain to resolve the clog 

Never use a toilet plunger to clear garbage disposal jams unless it’s new or unused. Dirty toilet plungers can contaminate your kitchen sink, putting your and your family’s health at risk. 

It’s best to buy a small kitchen plunger specifically designed for garbage disposals and sinks. They usually work better and ensure that you and your family will remain healthy and safe.

Call a Professional Plumber

Sometimes stubborn garbage disposal clogs won’t budge, no matter how many DIY methods you try. When all else fails, it’s best to call in a professional plumber to resolve the issue. 

We plumbers can clear any jams plaguing your garbage disposal for a small fee. We have numerous tools and techniques at our disposal (no pun intended), allowing us to clean even the worst clogs and jams. We also provide expert advice to help you prevent future garbage disposal problems.

High-Quality Plumbing Services in Nassau County, NY

If you need professional plumbing services in Nassau County, NY, contact our experts at Pride Services. Our team won’t hesitate to rush to your home and fix any plumbing emergency you face—all for a fair and affordable price. We know how to unclog a garbage disposal swiftly and efficiently, making your unit work better than ever. 

Next time your unit clogs, get first-class garbage disposal services in Nassau County, NY, from Pride Plumbing Services. Our team has helped hundreds of Nassau Country residents resolve their plumbing problems, and we can do the same for you. 

Don’t settle for inexperienced plumbing companies that only care about lining their pockets. Contact us at Pride Services by calling (516) 916-6894 or send us a message on our website today!

Published: Feb 18, 2022

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