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Clearing a Blocked Garbage Disposal: DIY Fixes and Troubleshooting

Clearing a Blocked Garbage Disposal: DIY Fixes and Troubleshooting
clearing a clogged garbage disposal

A blocked garbage disposal can be a real headache, disrupting the flow of your kitchen activities and causing frustration.

At Western Rooter, our dedicated team is committed to helping you maintain a smoothly running home with efficient solutions. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through step-by-step DIY fixes and provide troubleshooting tips to help you effectively clear a blocked garbage disposal.

With our detailed instructions and expert advice, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to tackle this issue and restore the functionality of your disposal in no time!

What Is a Garbage Disposal?

A garbage disposal, also known as a waste disposal unit, is a motorized device installed under a kitchen sink that grinds up food scraps into tiny pieces. These small particles can then be easily flushed down the drain with water. This convenient appliance helps to reduce food waste and prevent clogs in your pipes.

Signs of a Blocked Garbage Disposal

Before we dive into DIY fixes, it’s important to identify if your garbage disposal is indeed blocked. Some common signs of a blocked garbage disposal include:

  • Slow draining or standing water in the sink
  • Unpleasant odors coming from the sink
  • Loud humming or grinding noises when the disposal is turned on
  • Water backing up into the dishwasher (if connected to the same plumbing system)

If you notice any of these signs, it’s likely that your garbage disposal is blocked and in need of some attention.

When To Call A Plumber

Before we get into DIY fixes, it’s important to know when it’s best to leave the job to a professional plumber. If you have tried some of the troubleshooting tips listed below and your garbage disposal is still not working properly, or if you are uncomfortable attempting these fixes on your own, it’s time to call in an expert.

You should consider calling a plumber if you encounter any of the following situations:

  • You are unsure of the cause of the blockage, such as if multiple drains are affected or if there are unusual gurgling sounds.
  • The disposal is making unusual noises or emitting strange odors, which could indicate a mechanical issue or a buildup of debris.
  • There are signs of leakage from the unit, such as water pooling around the base or persistent dampness.
  • You have attempted multiple DIY fixes, such as using a plunger or drain cleaner, but none have successfully resolved the issue. It’s important to recognize when professional expertise is needed to prevent further damage or potential hazards.

Our team at Western Rooter is always happy to assist with any plumbing issues you may have.

What You’ll Need

  • Plunger
  • Allen wrench
  • Baking soda and vinegar
  • Flashlight
  • Tongs or pliers

How To Clear A Blocked Garbage Disposal

Step 1: Turn Off the Power

Your safety is our priority. Before you start working on your garbage disposal, it’s important to turn off the power to prevent any accidental startups. Locate the circuit breaker or switch that controls the power to the disposal and flip it to the “off” position. This simple step ensures that you can work on the disposal without any risk of electrical shocks.

Step 2: Inspect the Disposal

With the power off, grab a flashlight and take a closer look at the drain. Check for any visible obstructions like food scraps, debris, or foreign objects that may be causing the clog. If you spot anything within reach, it’s important to remove it before moving forward. Don’t worry, you can easily extract them using tongs or pliers!

Step 3: Use a Plunger

Now that you’ve cleared any visible obstructions, it’s time to grab a plunger and give it a go! Place the plunger over the drain hole, making sure to create a tight seal. Give it a firm push down, then pull up vigorously several times. This plunging action creates pressure and suction, helping to break up and remove minor clogs that may be causing the blockage.

Step 4: Allen Wrench Method

If the plunger doesn’t do the trick, you can give the Allen wrench method a shot. This method allows you to manually turn the blades and break up the clog. Find the hex hole under the disposal unit and insert the Allen wrench into it. Slowly and carefully rotate the wrench back and forth to loosen any obstruction and restore proper function to the disposal.

Step 5: Baking Soda and Vinegar

For those stubborn clogs and pesky fat and food residues, we’ve got a simple yet effective solution: baking soda and vinegar. Start by pouring half a cup of baking soda into the drain, letting it reach the deep recesses of the pipe. Then, follow it up with a cup of vinegar to create a chemical reaction that helps break down the debris. Let the mixture sit for at least 15 minutes to work its magic. Finally, run hot water down the drain to flush away the dissolved residue, leaving your pipes cleaner and more efficient.

Step 6: Reset the Unit

Once you’ve successfully cleared the blockage and restored proper function to your disposal, it’s time to give the unit a reset. Look for the reset button, usually located at the bottom of the disposal. Give it a gentle press to reset the system, ensuring that it’s ready for future use without any lingering issues.

Step 7: Test the Disposal

After restoring power, it’s crucial to test the disposal to ensure it’s working properly. To do this, run water through the disposal while paying close attention to any strange noises or vibrations. Also, check for signs of clogging or slow drainage. Taking the time to thoroughly test the disposal will help guarantee its optimal functionality and prevent any future problems.

We want to make sure your disposal is in top shape!


Is your garbage disposal giving you trouble? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Clearing a blocked garbage disposal is usually a straightforward task if you follow these simple steps. But if the problem persists, it’s time to call in the experts.

At Western Rooter, we specialize in professional and efficient plumbing services, including drain cleaning and emergency plumbing. With years of experience serving the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley areas, our skilled team of plumbers is dedicated to providing top-notch solutions for all your plumbing needs.

From unclogging stubborn blockages to repairing faulty pipes, our experts have got you covered. Trust Western Rooter to get your plumbing system back in working order.

Contact us today and let us take care of your plumbing woes!

John, Larry, Mike, owners of Western Rooter & Plumbing

Need expert plumbing help?

If you’re having plumbing issues or emergencies, contact Western Rooter & Plumbing online or call our dispatch center at (626) 448-6455. We are the Los Angeles County and San Gabriel Valley’s number one plumbers – don’t wait, call now!



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