How to Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal

What You'll Need
Broom handle
Allen wrench
Needle-nose pliers

There is no doubt that a garbage disposal is a great appliance to have in the kitchen. It’s an ideal way to get rid of food waste. However, a garbage disposal will jam from time to time and will require some work to relieve the problem. The good news is that it’s an easy and quick job to unjam a garbage disposal.

Step 1--Broom Handle

The very first thing to do is to make sure there’s no power to the garbage disposal. If your disposal plugs in under the sink, unplug it. If it’s wired into the electrical system, you’ll need to turn off the breaker. When you’ve done that, run water and try the disposal again. If it still hums, the power isn’t off. Keep turning off individual breakers until there’s no hum present. Never reach down the garbage disposal with your hands.

Now, push the broom handle down through the sink into the garbage disposal and try to unblock the jam this way. It will work in most cases. If you try to rotate the blades with the broom handle, you’ll soon be able to tell if you’re succeeding, as they will start to turn. If it works, remove the broom handle, turn the power back on, run some cold water and switch the garbage disposal back on.

Step 2--Allen Wrench

When you bought your garbage disposal, one of the things that will have come with it is an Allen wrench. It’s not provided for installation but to help repair the garbage disposal when it jams. Remove items from the cabinet under the sink and look at the bottom of the garbage disposal. You should see two things. One will be a red reset button. The other will be a hole. This is where you need to fit the Allen wrench.

Push it in until it’s fully engaged and turn it both clockwise and counterclockwise. This is to free the jam in the garbage disposal. You’ll find that after a minute, you’ll be able to turn the wrench more freely. Keep going until it turns with complete freedom. This means that you’ve cleared the jam inside the garbage disposal. Remove the Allen wrench and put it somewhere handy for the next time you need it.

Step 3--Needle-Nose Pliers

Having cleared the jam might be all well and good, but you will still need to get to whatever was causing the jam. To do this, take a pair of needle-nose pliers and push them down into the garbage disposal from the sink.

If the light in the kitchen is good, you should be able to see what you’re doing; if not, consider using a flashlight to help you. Feel around, and when you find something, attempt to pull it out with the pliers. The more you can remove, the less chance of the jam reoccurring when you try to use the garbage disposal again.

After removing the food, turn the power back on, let water flow to the sink and switch the garbage disposal on.