How to fix a jammed garbage disposal

Fixing A Jammed Garbage Disposal

During our NJ home inspections, we find jammed garbage disposals all of the time. Garbage disposals are basic machines that use a motor and a flywheel with impeller arms that spin and shred whatever they touch. These machines can become jammed when hard or stringy objects got caught up in the impeller, and often enough when the machine is overloaded you can blow or trip a circuit breaker. Here are a few things you can do to un-jam your garbage disposal in your New Jersey Home.

First make sure you turn the garbage disposal on and off quickly to check to see if you have blown a circuit. If the unit is silent, it has probably blown a circuit and then you should move on to step 2. If the unit hums, than there is power, but something is probably jammed in the impeller.
To restore power to the machine look for a red reset button, it should be located on the bottom of the housing. Most disposals have an overload switch that trips when the motor starts to overheat. If you find the red button, push it. If your machine doesn’t have an override switch or if the power isn’t restored after pushing the button, reset the circuit breaker that provides power to the disposal.
First try clearing the jam from underneath. On most disposals you can insert a (6-mm) Allen (hex) wrench into the bottom of the housing and manually move the flywheel and motor shaft to dislodge the jam. If your disposal has a space for an Allen (hex) wrench, insert the wrench and move it back and forth until the flywheel and motor turn with ease.
If that doesn’t work or you don’t have an Allen (hex) wrench try clearing the jam from above. You can do this by pressing the end of a short broomstick against one of the impellers, and poke in one direction and then the other until the jam breaks free.
Then you must remove the debris to make sure that it doesn’t get caught up in the impeller for a second time. First turn off the circuit breaker that supplies power to the disposal. Then reach inside with a pair of long nosed pliers and pull out whatever jammed the machine. Often times this can be bottle caps, plastic tops, or meat as it becomes stringy when grinded.
Next turn on the machine and run cold water- this helps consolidate any grease inside and helps the disposal chop it up.

Overall Tips:

Never use any chemical drain cleaners to clear debris from the disposal. These chemicals can cause damage to the gaskets and other parts, which will lessen the life of your garbage disposal.
Try to avoid jams by placing a rubber strainer in the drain hole when disposal is not in use.

We inspect garbage disposal with every home inspection we perform in NJ. Come See the 20/20 difference today.

About author:

John Buckley is a loving father, husband and Home Inspector. He has spent over 20 years of his career in the construction industries with expertise in general contracting, plumbing, landscaping, appliance, roofing & siding repairs and installation. His main focus has always been on providing clients with world class service and care.

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