Unclogging a Clogged Garbage Disposal: A Step-by-Step Guide for DIY and When to Call a Pro

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Hey there! If you’re dealing with a clogged garbage disposal that’s leaving smelly, standing water in your sink, you’ve come to the right place. A jammed up disposal is no fun – it can grind your whole kitchen to a halt (pun intended 😉).

In this article, we’ll go over the signs of a clogged disposal, what causes those annoying jams in the first place, and the step-by-step DIY methods you can try to unclog a garbage disposal yourself. We’ll also cover when it’s best to call in a pro.

Our goal here is to give you the knowledge and confidence to handle this pesky plumbing problem yourself, while knowing when it makes sense to pick up the phone for backup. Let’s dive in!

How Do You Know You Have a Clogged Garbage Disposal?

There are a few clear indicators that your disposal needs some TLC:

  • Standing water in the sink that drains very slowly
  • Loud humming, gurgling noises when you turn on the disposal
  • Gross sewer odors coming from the drain
  • Sink backup when you use other fixtures like the faucet
  • Reduced water pressure at the faucet
  • Disposal won’t turn on or starts up then stops
  • Generally foul odors from the sink drain

If you notice these signs, it’s definitely time to take action and unclog your garbage disposal! A clogged unit can lead to bigger problems if left alone too long.

What Causes Garbage Disposals to Get Clogged in the First Place?

There are a few common culprits of clogged garbage disposals:

  • Putting the wrong foods down the drain – shells, fibrous veggies, coffee grounds
  • Overloading the disposal with too much waste at one time
  • Not running water while operating the disposal
  • Bigger clogs in the drain line underneath the disposal
  • Old disposals near the end of their lifespan with worn out parts

To prevent future clogs, it helps to understand what can jam up your unit in the first place!

Now let’s get into the good stuff – how the heck do you actually unclog this thing?

DIY Methods to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

Before trying any of these DIY methods to unclog a garbage disposal, make sure to turn off the power at your breaker box to avoid getting zapped! Safety first.

Here are the best home remedies to try:

Remove the Splash Guard

  • Take off the rubber splash guard in the sink to inspect the blades and drainage exit point.
  • Manually remove any food waste or debris you see clogging things up.
  • Watch your fingers! Those blades are sharp.

Use a Hex Wrench or Wooden Handle

  • Use a hex wrench or a wooden broom handle to manually turn the blades and dislodge the clog.
  • Rotate both directions several times to loosen the jam.
  • Remove any loosened debris.

Attach a Sink Plunger

  • Cover the drain hole tightly with a round sink plunger.
  • Fill the sink with enough water to cover the plunger fully.
  • Plunge vigorously to force the clog downward.
  • Repeat several times to clear the jam.

Remove the P-Trap Under the Sink

  • Place a bucket under the curved P-trap pipe below the sink.
  • Unscrew the slip nuts on both ends of the P-trap to remove it.
  • Inspect for any clogs in the trap or horizontal arm section.
  • Rinse any debris out with water.

Use Baking Soda and Vinegar

  • Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the disposal drain.
  • Follow with 1/2 cup vinegar and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • The fizzy reaction helps break down gunk and deodorize.
  • Rinse with hot water.

Press the Reset Button

  • If your disposal has a red reset button on the bottom, press it to restart the unit after clog removal.

Temporary Fixes for a Clogged Disposal

If the above methods aren’t working, you can try a few temporary fixes before calling in reinforcements:

  • Dish soap – Helps break down fats and grease that can clog
  • Salt – Acts as an abrasive to scrub off stuck on gunk
  • Hot water – Melts away fats and oils
  • Enzymatic cleaner – Breaks down waste naturally

They may provide enough unclogging power to get your disposal grinding again.

Call a Professional Plumber When:

DIY methods can only go so far when dealing with a clogged garbage disposal. Here’s when to call in a pro:

  • You’ve tried unclogging yourself multiple times with no luck
  • The clog keeps coming back
  • There are signs of a larger issue like leaks or electrical problems
  • Routine maintenance is needed – disposals should be inspected yearly

A pro plumber like T&J Rooters has the expertise, heavy duty equipment, and ability to fully clear drain line clogs that DIY approaches just can’t tackle.

Don’t hesitate to call them at (419) 474-8774 if you need garbage disposal repairs or drain cleaning services. The experienced team at T&J Rooters will get your kitchen drain flowing freely again in no time!

Prevent Future Clogged Disposals

Clogged disposals are annoying and disruptive. Here are some tips to avoid them altogether:

  • Avoid putting certain foods down the drain – eggshells, fibrous peels, coffee grounds, fats/oils
  • Use a sink strainer – Catches food scraps before they go down the drain
  • Run cold water while running the disposal – Flushes the drain pipes
  • Regularly flush with baking soda and vinegar – Keeps unit deodorized and maintained
  • Don’t overload the disposal – Feed waste gradually in small batches

A little prevention goes a long way when it comes to unclogging garbage disposals. Following these tips will keep your unit working smoothly for years to come.

So there you have it! With this guide, you should feel empowered to handle a clogged garbage disposal on your own using proven DIY methods. But don’t be afraid to call in a professional if you need the extra help.

Stay unclogged, friends!

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