Is there any appliance in the home more type-cast than the garbage disposal? If you are a connoisseur of horror movies, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Just placing your fingers near the edge of the drain is enough to send shivers down the spine of most people. But, what happens when the disposal gets jammed? You may have to do the very thing you fear most – placing your hand inside the maw of the garbage disposal.
Troubleshooting the Jam
When your garbage disposal gets jammed, it’s usually because something fell into it that shouldn’t have. This can be anything from a piece of chicken bone to the cap from a water bottle or a piece of plastic. It’s hard to imagine, but as strong as a garbage disposal motors are, sometimes, the smallest thing can jam them up.
When you hear the tell-tale “hum” that signals a jam; the first thing you should do is turn off the garbage disposal immediately. Next, remove all of the plates and silverware from your sink. Clean it out so you’ll be able to work.
To err on the side of safety, you should turn off the circuit breaker that delivers power to the disposal. I don’t know about you, but I feel it would be too easy to accidentally hit the switch while my hand is removing the obstruction.
Fixing the Jammed Garbage Disposal
With the power off, take a flashlight and look down the drain. See if you can find what is causing the jam. If you can’t see it, you may have to do some finger-searching.
Before you stick your hand down the hole, grab a long, thin screwdriver with a thin tip. Insert it into the drain and set the tip inside one of the holes found on the bottom of the disposal. Try to turn the turntable using the screwdriver. It may require some force, but many times, this will break the jam.
If you can’t free up the turntable, then you will have to remove the garbage disposal from the sink so you can get a closer look as to what is causing the problem.
Removing the Garbage Disposal
Before you remove the garbage disposal, you will have to detach the drain and the hose that is connected to your dishwasher if you have one. Place a bucket underneath so it will catch any residual water. Of course, before removing the disposal, you should turn the circuit breaker off.
Hold the disposal with one hand while you loosen the screws on the side of the mounting assembly with the other hand using a small screwdriver. Once these screws are loose, turn the garbage disposal counter-clockwise until it frees itself from the mounting ring.
With the disposal free, take a closer look inside its mouth to find the obstruction and remove it. Use the screwdriver to make sure the flywheel is no longer jammed up and re-install the garbage disposal.
With everything back together, your garbage disposal should be running smooth once again.
Dave Donovan is a freelance copywriter living in Atco, N.J. An electrician for 15 years, an injury forced him to pursue his true passion - writing.