Many people use their garbage disposal as a way to get rid of all their food scraps. However, most garbage disposals can’t dispose of just anything and everything, and sometimes when people use it incorrectly, they end up burning up their motor, jamming the flywheel, or dulling the shredder ring.
If you don’t know what each of those pieces are, you can read our article How Does a Garbage Disposal Work? to learn how your garbage disposal grinds up food waste and what it looks like inside.
One of the most common problems that occurs with a garbage disposal is jamming. We have some simple DIY tips that can save you money on a call to the plumber or, if you have a home warranty, a service call fee.
HOW TO FIX A JAMMED GARBAGE DISPOSAL
Sometimes your garbage disposal will turn on but it won’t grind anything. It will just hum and then turn off. What has happened in this situation is there is something stuck between the impeller on the flywheel and shredder ring. The machine will automatically shut off if the motor is going to overheat.
A carrot stuck between an impeller and the shredder ring.
1. TURN OFF THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL
To fix this, the first thing you need to do is turn off the power to the garbage disposal. That could mean unplugging the machine or turning the circuit breaker for the disposal off. Do not try to grab the item that is jamming your flywheel. You could hurt yourself.
2. FIND YOUR ALLEN WRENCH
Next, take the wrench that came with your disposal. It should look like this:
If you don’t have one, you can find one at any local hardware store.
3. INSERT THE WRENCH INTO THE BOTTOM OF THE DISPOSAL
Go under your sink and insert the end of the Allen wrench into the hole in the bottom of the unit. This hole connects to the flywheel and turning your wrench turns the flywheel, hopefully removing the item that has become stuck.
4. MOVE THE WRENCH BACK AND FORTH
First move the wrench clockwise and then counter-clockwise in short bursts. This should dislodge the object. When it finally dislodges, the wrench will be able to go all the way around, turning your flywheel full circle.
5. POWER THE DISPOSAL BACK ON IN SHORT BURTS
Afterward, turn the power back onto the garbage disposal and then press the reset button on the bottom of the disposal. Then try to use the disposal in a few short bursts while running water in it, of course. This should have cleared the obstruction.
For other problems with your garbage disposal such as a leak or a breakdown, you will have to purchase and install a new unit. If you have a home warranty and your garbage disposal breaks down from normal wear and tear, you'll be able to have it repaired or replaced for a small service call fee. For more information how to clean your garbage disposal, check out our article that was featured on Buzzfeed. If you're interested in buying a home warranty, learn more about what parts of your home a Landmark home warranty covers.