When faced with garbage disposal issues most people would agree the easiest first step to getting the disposal up and running again would be to pick up the phone and call a plumber. While that may be the easiest option, it is typically not the fastest, or most cost effective choice. Before calling in the professionals there are a few quick fix tricks you could try to remedy the problem yourself.
Quick fix tips
ALWAYS TURN OFF BREAKER CONTROLLING THE DISPOSAL BEFORE ATTEMPTING ANY REPAIR!
First things first, check the drain to see if there is something jamming the disposer. Use a flashlight to look down the drain, and if you do see something stuck remember, DO NOT stick your hand down the drain. Try using long handled tongs or pliers to reach down and grab whatever is clogging up the system.
If that is not the problem, there could be lingering leftovers in the disposal jamming the blades. Try to loosen the lodged food with a plunger first. Cover the drain with a plunger, let water cover the edge of plunger, then plunge. If that doesn’t loosen up the scraps, try pouring ¼ c. of baking soda in the disposal, then ½ cup of white vinegar on top of that. Prepare yourself for foam to come up the drain. Let that cocktail rest in the system for 5-10 mins, then follow it with running hot water through the disposal for 2-3 mins.
If that still hasn’t fixed your problem your system may need to be reset. There are two different resets that could potentially fix the problem. Resetting the GFCI switch in the kitchen, and the disposal itself. The reset button on a GFCI switch is typically the top button and is red, but it should also be labeled on the switch. The reset button for most garbage disposal systems can be found on the bottom of the unit, and is also, in most cases, a red button.
There are ways to stop most problems before they have a chance to occur if you keep up with preventative maintenance and stay conscious of what goes down your drain.
Do’s and Don’ts
There are a number of things that do not belong down the disposal and could cause problems for you down the line.
- potato peels
- pasta, rice, or grains that expand in standing water
- grease, oil
- coffee grounds
- fibrous veggies
- seafood shells
- bones, pits
- harsh chemicals
- hot water
- turning off water or grinder before the debris has sufficiently run through the system
- Use cold water when running the disposal.
- Keep blades sharp and clean by putting ice down the drain regularly.
- Clean with de-greaser, not a harsh industrial de-greaser as that can do damage to the unit.
- About every other year have your pipes snaked to stop clogs from building.
- Run unit regularly.
- Clean disposal with dish soap, not harsh chemicals, chemicals can corrode the plastic parts of your disposer.
- Put no more than 1 cup of food debris through the system at a time.
- Putting lemon and orange peels through the grinder acts as a freshener to avoid a rotten smell.