How to unclog a garbage disposal blog article.

26 Mar, 2022

Garbage disposals are a great addition to any home, but they’re not a miracle appliance. While they’re incredibly convenient, chances are you’ll encounter a clogged garbage disposal at some point. Understanding how to unclog a garbage disposal can save you hours of frustration (and that funky smell from your sink).

Understanding why it happens, how to fix it, and how to prevent a clogged disposal in the first place should be high on any homeowner’s list of priorities. Here’s a quick guide on everything you need to know about this common household problem.

What Causes a Clogged Garbage Disposal?

Before getting into how to unclog a disposal, you may be wondering how it happens in the first place. Several common causes could be at the root of the problem.

Incorrect Food Types

Your garbage disposal wasn’t meant to handle every type of food, which is why you need to be mindful of what you throw down there. Some of the most common types of food that can make your garbage disposal clogged include:

  • Hard to Chop – Anything that’s difficult to chop yourself, such as bones, seeds, and pits, should never find their way into your garbage disposal.
  • Stringy Items – Avoid stringy items, such as celery and pasta. These tend to get tangled in the blades.
  • Easy Clogging – Grease, fat, and oil will harden and lead to a significant blockage in your disposal and drain. These are a huge contributor to clogged garbage disposals. 

Too Much Food at Once

Your disposal only has so much capacity to process food waste. Dumping too much too fast will increase the risk of clogging. To determine whether it’s time to dial it back, listen for a humming noise. You’re already pushing the disposal to its limits if you hear this sound.

Non-Food Objects

It goes without saying that only food should go down your disposal. Paper, foil, plastic, fabric, and even flower plant clippings have led to homeowners needing to unclog a garbage disposal unexpectedly.

Leftover Waste

Failing to let your disposal run until it’s finished could cause a build-up of waste that eventually prevents anything from passing through it. You should also let the water run for at least a minute to clear any remaining debris.

Hot Water

Believe it or not, hot water can also be a problem. Hot water spreads grease, fat, and oil in your food around the disposal and into your pipes. When these substances harden, you’ll start to see the beginning of a blockage.

How Do You Unclog a Garbage Disposal?

Figuring out how to clear a clogged garbage disposal isn’t always straightforward. Some blockages can be removed at home, whereas unclogging a garbage disposal may sometimes require the help of a professional.

Here are some tips for how to unclog a garbage disposal.

Manual Cleaning

Grab a flashlight and take a peek inside. You may be able to spot the clog from where you’re standing. Use a pair of tongs or pliers to retrieve a loose item. Repeat the process until everything has been removed. If something is tight and won’t come loose, you need to call a professional.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

A popular DIY option for how to fix a clogged garbage disposal is baking soda and vinegar. When mixed, the fizzy foam will cut through most blockages and clean the unit. It’s beneficial for removing grease, fat, and oil and dealing with unwanted smells.

Just pour some baking soda into the disposal, pour some vinegar, wait for twenty minutes, and then wash away the mixture with water. If the clog isn’t severe, this is one of the easiest ways to unclog a garbage disposal on your own.

Use a Plunger

Plungers work just as well for unclogging a garbage disposal as with your toilet. Grab a plunger and cover the drain. Use a plug to cover the other drain. Fill the sink with enough water to make your plunger watertight.

Start plunging for a few minutes. You should see the sink fill with fragments of old food or items within the disposal coming to the surface. Let some cold water flow to force any further blockages away.

Loosen Manually

Sometimes turning the blades manually can help loosen food items that have gotten stuck. Use an Allen wrench at the bottom of the disposal. Look for the position of the manual operator. Turn the blades slowly to see if it has an impact.

This technique for how to clear a clogged garbage disposal is also helpful for providing you with a clearer view of clogged particles.

Enlist Professional Plumbing Services

If all else fails and you don’t have the technical skills (or desire) to begin pulling the pipes apart, it’s time to call a plumber. Valley Service’s expert plumbers are ready and able to remove even the most tenacious blockages. One quick call can prevent permanent damage to your garbage disposal and get it up and running again in no time.

How to Prevent Clogged Garbage Disposals

The best cure for a clogged garbage disposal is preventing the problem in the first place. Follow these tips to reduce the risk of a blockage:

  • Be selective about the foods you send down.
  • Use a sink strainer.
  • Chop food waste before sending it down the disposal.
  • Feed food slowly, usually a half cup or less.
  • Rinse with cold water after every use.
  • Use regularly to keep your disposal in good shape.

Leave it to the Experts

While there are easy DIY methods for how to unclog a garbage disposal, you should always call a professional for severe clogs. 

Call Valley Service for a local plumber with years’ worth of experience. Serving Fargo and surrounding areas, Valley Services has over forty years of commitment to quality, value, and friendly service. Whether you have a clogged drain, maintenance requests, or a busted pipe, we’ve got you covered. Call Valley Service with your plumbing needs today!