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Tips for Repairing a Clogged Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a great convenience in any kitchen. Rather than filling your garbage with scraps that’ll start to smell in a few days, you can send them down the disposal and shred them! The problem is, garbage disposals can be fickle and troublesome—especially if you’re too liberal with what you put down them.

If you’ve got a stuck garbage disposal or one that’s clearly clogged, there are a few things you can and should do to get it working again. Here’s how:
  • Before you do any tinkering, turn off and disconnect the disposal! We’ve all seen too many horror movies involving hands and garbage disposals. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way.
  • Use a flashlight to look down into your sink’s disposal, to see if you can spot whatever’s clogging the blade. It’s often easy to spot large objects like fruit rinds or foreign objects and pull them out.
  • If you can’t see what’s causing the clog, use a screwdriver or dowel to slowly move the blade around and around. If it catches on anything, investigate that area and remove any obstructions.
  • If the blade moves freely, plug the disposal back in and fire it up. If it’s still clogged or unmoving, it may be time to call a plumber. If there’s no noise or movement at all, the problem may be electrical—another reason to call a plumber.
In most cases, it’s a larger item that’s causing the clog and you should be able to pluck it out to get your disposal working again. In some cases, it might be a buildup caused by fats, oils or greases (FOG). If it’s a buildup, a thorough cleaning should get the job done. Use vinegar and baking soda to clear blockages or use hot water and dish soap to loosen things up again.

Prevent blockages to begin with

What’s even easier than repairing a clogged garbage disposal? Preventing clogs in the first place! The easiest way to keep your disposal in working condition is to know what not to put down it. Here’s a quick list of items that don’t belong in your disposal:
  • Bones (from steak, chicken, pork)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Rice, oats and whole pasta
  • Fruit and vegetable peels
  • Fruit pits and cores
  • Inorganic materials
Garbage disposals aren’t catchalls for anything on your plate. While they’re a great convenience for small food particles and drippings leftover after a meal, be aware that larger objects and items that might tangle the blades shouldn’t go down the drain. Scrap these things into the garbage instead!

Routine cleaning goes a long way

The other way to prevent garbage disposal clogs is to clean your disposal regularly. Again, vinegar and baking soda work well, along with dish soap and hot water. Avoid caustic chemicals whenever possible.

If you suspect there’s some bigger problem at play, don’t be afraid to give us a call. We can send out a plumber to snake your drain or disassemble your disposal to give it a thorough inspection or cleaning. PipeMasters: info@pipemasters.ca or (289) 404-9063.

PipeMasters is part of Oakridge Plumbing Ontario Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
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