Doing minor maintenance in your home can save you money and help prevent bigger problems from occurring. Generally, proper general care and maintenance of a garbage disposal will help prevent clogs, but they still may happen. A clogged garbage disposal is a hassle, but many times you can fix it yourself. Here are the steps to follow when you have a clogged garbage disposal, and how to know when you need to call a plumber.
Many people instinctively want to put their hand into a clogged garbage disposal to see if they can get it unstuck. Unfortunately, this is extremely dangerous – if you do unclog it, it may immediately start to run and damage your hand severely.
Before you start any work on your garbage disposal, turn it off and shut off the power switch so that you won’t be injured during the work. The electrical power switch should be located under the cabinet or near the disposal. If you don’t find one, go to the power box and turn off the breaker that powers the disposal.
Attempt to Unclog the Garbage Disposal
Using a flashlight, you may be able to see the item causing the clogged garbage disposal. If you can see it, use pliers – and not your hand – to remove it. Wait for 15 – 20 minutes to allow the motor to cool, then restore power to the disposal and hit the reset button located on the bottom of the unit. Turn on the disposal and run water down it to see if that has resolved the problem.
If food has clogged the disposal, you can pour boiling water into the drain and use a plunger to loosen the clog. You may then be able to continue running water down the sink to remove the clog, and the garbage disposal will work normally again.
If the disposal is still clogged, turn the power back off and use a long wooden spoon or dowel to reach into the disposal. Push the stick against the blades that grind up the garbage, and rock it back and forth until the blade rotates freely. Wait 15 minutes for the motor to cool, restore power, and hit the reset button again. Turn on the disposal and run water down it to see if that has resolved the problem.
When working on the garbage disposal, do not use chemical cleaners or drain clog removal chemicals. The chemicals can eat away at plastic parts of the disposal, damaging it further.
Knowing When to Call a Plumber
If your attempts to remove the clog have not been effective, you will need to call a plumber to fix the problem. Leaving a garbage disposal broken is not a long-term solution because someone will inevitably forget and put some solid or semi-solid waste down the sink. A clogged garbage disposal will get in the way of normal drainage down the sink pipes, and food or other debris stuck in the disposal can mold and cause a nasty smell – not to mention health concerns!
If you haven’t been able to fix the clogged garbage disposal yourself, call a plumber for an appointment during normal business hours. The garbage disposal is not a plumbing emergency, so you don’t need to pay extra for rush service. The plumbing professional can unclog the garbage disposal, repair any damage, or let you know if you need a new garbage disposal installed.
For more information about fixing a clogged garbage disposal, or to make an appointment with a plumber to fix your disposal, give Quail Plumbing a call at 602-493-9822, or email us. We’ll have your clogged garbage disposal fixed in no time, so you can go back to doing what you need to do!