How to Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal

by Paul

"My garbage disposal is jammed badly. What should I do now?"

Call a plumber or call the manufacturers? Wait a minute if you are about to panic about your garbage disposal being jammed. It is a common problem from the users of garbage disposals and can be fixed quite easily (I actually mean it, this time).

A garbage disposal is a mandatory appliance that keeps your kitchen clean and waste free. It hides inside your kitchen sink and eats up all the waste. That’s the reason why sometimes people forget that they are using a garbage disposal.

And sometimes they get hard reminders when the disposal stops working. Below, we will discuss most common reasons of a jammed garbage disposal unit, how to fix the jam and how to prevent disposal from getting jammed again in the future.

A garbage disposal jam can be caused by a number of reasons. A disposal unit may get stuck with the grease, oil and fat that can harden over the time. Sometimes, starchy foods like rice, pasta etc., stringy vegetables peels or any type of chunks of food items can get stuck in the corners.

It does not really matter what the reason is. You can easily get the situation in control by fixing your jammed garbage disposal with some simple and easy steps.

Jammed Garbage Disposal Solution

  • Step 1: Check the Reset Button
  • Step 2: Disconnect from Electricity
  • Step 3: Unjam with Allen Wrench
  • Step 4: Push the Reset Button if Tripped
  • Step 5: Unjam Garbage Disposal from the Top
  • Step 6: Pour Hot Water to Clean

If you have a garbage disposal jammed badly and it is not working, then these are the easiest steps that can help you to fix it. Why pay a plumber from your pocket if you can un-jam the garbage disposal and fix the problem by yourself? Follow these steps to fix a jammed garbage disposal.

Step 1: Check the Reset Button

reset button disposal suggest

Whenever there is a problem related to your garbage disposal try to check the reset button at first. It is a very good way to find out what actually the problem is.

Most garbage disposal units have their reset button on the very bottom (as displayed on the picture –>), but some of them can have it on the rear side as well, but it still should be in the lower part of the disposal unit.

When your garbage disposal gets clogged for a long time and slowly gets stuck, your disposal motor takes more strength to process the waste. As the time passes, it gets overheated and takes too much strength to process even a minimum amount of food.

That’s the time when the reset button that is placed under the disposal unit gets popped up and turns the motor down to save it. It causes the disconnection of electricity, so the motor will not start.

Step 2: Disconnect from Electricity

Before you start fixing a jammed garbage disposal, firstly, you need to disconnect the disposal from the electricity connection for safety purposes. You don’t want to unjam your garbage disposal only to get electrified, right?

Step 3: Unjam with Allen Wrench

Allen wrench disposalsuggest

Reach under the sink where you have the disposal unit’s reset button. You will see there is a hole in the middle of the underneath surface of your disposal cylinder. Take the Allen Wrench that you got with new disposal unit. Put it in the hole and try to turn it back and forth.

It may take some strength at first, but after some time you should move it easily clockwise and anti-clockwise. Repeat this task until the movement is spontaneous and the jam is totally clear.

How to unjam a garbage disposal if you don’t have an Allen wrench? If you cannot unjam the blades from the bottom, try to unjam it from the top. Follow the step 5.

Step 4: Push the Reset Button if Tripped

When your garbage disposal is jammed and the button is popped out, that means you need to clean the jam and push the reset button. If the button still comes out, then wait for ten minutes. When the motor will cool down and will get ready to go, the reset button will stay inside when pushed.

If the button is not popped up, that means the motor is not overheating. No need to push the reset button in that case.

Step 5: Unjam Garbage Disposal from the Top

After doing everything I mentioned above the disposal should run smoothly. If it is still jammed, then you should do some few things to unjam it. Take a broomstick and put the wooden part into the sink hole. Now turn it back and forth to move the blades around. Be careful not to put your hand or fingers inside, as the blades can cut you.

If you feel that there is something big stuck inside, take a torch and look inside. If there is something like a glass or cutlery type thing, pull it off with a needle nose pliers.

Step 6: Pour Hot Water to Clean

To prevent any kind of grease, oil, and fat to get stuck inside your garbage disposal you need to pour hot boiling water inside the disposal unit. You should never put hot water when the disposal unit is turned on and it has waste inside. It may cause the fat to get separated and stuck. Never use hard chemicals to clean your disposal. It eventually corrodes the inside parts of the disposal. Learn how to clean your garbage disposal by checking our guide on it.

Hope this will solve the garbage disposal Jammed problem. Write in the comment section if you have any question regarding how to unjam a garbage disposal.

Check out our list of 5 smallest garbage disposal units on the market.

Here you can also check our list of 5 quietest garbage disposal units on the market.

If your disposal is still jammed, wait a few minutes, then repeat the process again. If the jam is not at all gone, then you should contact your manufacturer. Remember to check if you have a warranty. In the case of very old disposal units, the garbage disposal jam may occur very frequently. In that case, go for a new garbage disposal for your kitchen. Your kitchen deserves that, if you ask me.