How to fix a jam in your garbage disposal?

How to fix a jam in your garbage disposal?

Are you fed up with dealing with a jammed garbage disposal? If so, you’re not alone. From tiny bits of debris to large objects, when something gets stuck in your garbage disposal, it can be incredibly frustrating—not to mention inconvenient. Fortunately, there are some simple steps that you can take to fix the problem and get things running smoothly again. In this guide, we’ll show you how to safely and effectively clear a jam in your garbage disposal. So let’s get started!

Common Causes of Jammed Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals are incredibly convenient when it comes to cleaning up after meals. However, food particles, grease, and other debris can get blocked or clogged. Fortunately, knowing the common causes of jammed garbage disposals can help you identify what’s wrong and find a way to fix it.

Common causes are:

  1. Clogs from Food Waste
  2. Blockage from Objects in the Sink
  3. Damage to Disposal Blades or Motor
  4. Lack of Maintenance and Improper Usage
  5. Electrical Problems
  6. Malfunctioning Components

So, now let’s dive in. How can you unjam your garbage disposal?

Steps to Unjam Your Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal has become jammed and won’t work, you should shut off its power supply. This is a necessary safety precaution, as attempting to unjam the garbage disposal without shutting off the power supply can be dangerous. Here are the steps you need to take to safely shut off the power supply:

  1. Locate the circuit breaker that controls the power supply to your garbage disposal. This is usually located in the main electrical panel in your home.
  2. Once you have located the circuit breaker, switch it off and ensure the electricity to the disposal has been shut off.
  3. To ensure that all the electricity has been shut off to the disposal, use a voltage meter to test for any remaining power.
  4. Once you are confident that no power is running to your disposal, it is safe to begin unjamming it. If you feel uncomfortable doing this yourself, contact a professional plumber to help you with this task.

Remove Objects from the Drain

If your garbage disposal has become jammed, it can be incredibly frustrating. Fortunately, the fix is often quite simple—all you need to do is remove any objects that may have gotten stuck in the drain or the disposal itself. Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Start by unplugging the garbage disposal from the power outlet.
  2. Next, check inside the drain for any objects that may be stuck in or around it. You can use a flashlight to spot anything that may have gotten lodged in there.
  3. Once you’ve identified any objects, carefully try to remove them with a pair of pliers. You may need to loosen or dislodge them before pulling them out.
  4. If you cannot remove the objects with your hands, try using a plunger to dislodge them. Make sure you create a tight seal on the sinkhole before plunging several times in quick succession.
  5. If the objects are still stuck, you may need to consult a plumber.
  6. Lastly, once all the objects have been removed, plug your garbage disposal back in and test it to ensure it’s working correctly again.

Use an Allen Wrench to Activate the Flywheel/Impellers

  1. First, ensure that you have an Allen Wrench that is the appropriate size for your garbage disposal’s flywheel or impellers. You may need to consult the owner’s manual to determine the required size.
  2. Unplug your garbage disposal and place a towel over it to prevent debris from falling into the drain.
  3. Carefully insert the Allen Wrench into the hole in the center of the flywheel or impellers, then gently turn it counterclockwise. You may need to apply some pressure to ensure it is securely engaged with the mechanism.
  4. Check to see if any debris has been dislodged and if the flywheel or impellers are now rotating freely. If they are, then you have successfully unjammed your garbage disposal.
  5. Once the mechanism has been freed up, plug your disposal back in and continue to use it as usual! Always follow safety procedures when cleaning or working on any mechanical device.

If the mechanism still needs to turn, contact a professional. Please do not attempt to repair it yourself, as there is a risk of electric shock or further damage to your disposal.

Insert a Plunger in the Sink Drain and Pump It Up & Down Rapidly

  1. Start by gathering the supplies you need to unjam your garbage disposal: a plunger and a bucket. Place the bucket below the sink to catch any water that spills out while unjamming the removal.
  2. Insert the plunger directly into the drainpipe of the sink, making sure to create a tight seal.
  3. Pump the plunger up and down rapidly for several minutes, ensuring a good vacuum is created between the sink drain and the plunger. This will help to dislodge any debris blocking your garbage disposal.
  4. Pull out the plunger slowly and carefully once you’ve finished pumping. If the plunger appears to have dislodged some debris, remove it and inspect your garbage disposal.
  5. If the obstruction is gone, turn on the water supply and run a small amount into the sink drain. This will help clear away any remaining debris.
  6. Check if the garbage disposal is now working correctly. If the disposal is still jammed, you may need to use a tool such as a plumber’s snake or auger to clear away any remaining obstruction.

Once your garbage disposal is unjammed and running correctly again, remember to rinse the sink drain with hot water every few weeks to help prevent future clogs. This should help ensure your garbage disposal continues running smoothly for years.

Reset or Replace the Circuit Breaker for Electrical Problems

If you’re having problems with your garbage disposal, resetting or replacing the circuit breaker is an excellent place to start. Here’s how to do it:

  1. First, locate the circuit breaker box in your house. It will usually be located near where your electrical service enters the home. Check the yellow pages or contact an electrician if you need help finding it.
  2. Once you’ve located the circuit breaker box, turn off the power to your garbage disposal by switching it off at the breaker. This will ensure that no electricity flows to your garbage disposal while working on it.
  3. Now, you can either reset or replace the circuit breaker. To reset a circuit breaker, switch it off and back on again. If this doesn’t fix your garbage disposal problem, you may need to replace the circuit breaker.
  4. To replace a circuit breaker, turn off the power to your garbage disposal and remove the wires that connect it to the box. Pull out the old circuit breaker and install a new one.
  5. Finally, reconnect the wires to your garbage disposal and turn on the power at the breaker box again. This should fix any electrical problems you may have been experiencing with your garbage disposal.

Preventing Jams in Your Garbage Disposal

  1. Run cold water while grinding food in the garbage disposal. This will help keep grease or fat from congealing on the blades and causing a jam.
  2. Avoid putting fibrous foods like celery, corn husks, banana peels, or onion skins down your garbage disposal. These foods can easily tangle up the blades and cause a jam.
  3. Make sure to run water for about 30 seconds after grinding food in your garbage disposal. This will help flush any remaining debris and prevent it from congealing on the blades.
  4. Avoid putting hard items like bones, popsicle sticks, or utensils into your garbage disposal. These items can quickly get stuck on the blades and cause a jam.
  5. Clean the inside of your garbage disposal regularly to prevent clogs and jams. You can use baking soda, white vinegar, and hot water to help clean the blades and eliminate any built-up grease or fat.
  6. Use a garbage disposal cleaner regularly to help keep your blades running smoothly and prevent jams from occurring.


Fixing a jam in your garbage disposal can be a simple process or a more involved one, depending on the jam you’re dealing with. With the right tools and knowledge, it’s easy to tackle this issue independently. Just remember to unplug the unit before attempting any repairs, wear protective gear when necessary, and keep the unit clean and well-maintained in between use. With a little effort, you can have your garbage disposal working like new again in no time!

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

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