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How to Un-Jam a Garbage Disposal like a Plumber

Kitchen garbage disposal problems can be frustrating. Most disposal jams can be easily fixed, but many homeowners give up and call a plumber to take care of the problem. This helpful Roto-Rooter video will let you in on the professional secrets so you'll be able to un-jam a garbage disposal just like a professional plumber.

Kitchen garbage disposal problems can be frustrating. Most disposal jams can be easily fixed, but many homeowners give up and call a plumber to take care of the problem. This helpful Roto-Rooter video will let you in on the professional secrets so you'll be able to un-jam a garbage disposal just like a professional plumber.

First, always be sure whenever you are working on your disposal, that the power to the disposal is off. Next, if you turn the power on and do not hear a buzzing sound, check to see if the local fuse on the disposal has been tripped. You can do this by pushing the reset button located on the bottom of the disposal. If you still aren't hearing any noise, check the main breaker located in your home's breaker box. If you hear buzzing and the jam persists, turn the disposal off and using a 1/4" hex wrench, insert the wrench into the center hole at the bottom of the disposal. Turning the wrench back and forth should release the jam. If you do not have a hex wrench, a dowel or a wooden spoon can be used to do the same through the drain. Simply insert the spoon firmly up against one of the impellers, rotating back and forth until the jam is freed.

If none of these work, your local Roto-Rooter plumber will be happy to come out and take a look!

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Garbage disposal jams are frustrating. You flip the switch and hear a buzzing sound but it won’t work. Or worse, you hear nothing at all and the disposal seems to be dead. Before you call a plumber, let Roto-Rooter show you how to un-jam a garbage disposal like a plumber.

If the disposal is not making a humming sound, it has probably overheated and tripped a breaker on the unit itself or in the circuit breaker box. The reset button is just a local circuit breaker so the first and most obvious thing to do is to push the re-set button on the bottom of the disposal.

After turning off the power switch, press the reset button on the bottom. Turn the power switch back on. If  the disposal won’t run and isn’t making a humming noise, check to see if it tripped a circuit breaker in your home’s breaker box. Sometimes resetting the circuit breaker takes care of the problem but if the disposal is humming, it probably tripped the breaker in the first place because something is preventing the disposal’s flywheel from turning.  In other words, it’s jammed.

Now this is the point where a lot of people simply give up and call Roto-Rooter for help but watch closely because there are still some things you can try on your own before you call a professional.

Your garbage disposal probably came with a key for clearing jams, which for most brands is just a quarter inch hex wrench. Check to see if you have one in your tool box. Again, make sure the power switch is turned off then insert the hex wrench into the center hole at the bottom of the disposal and turn the wrench back and forth. This should free the flywheel and clear the jam.

Most jams are caused by seeds or other hard materials such as a seed or bone lodged between the flywheel and the housing. Some disposals don’t have the hole in the bottom but you can still clear the jam by using a dowel rod or the end of a wooden kitchen spoon. After making sure the disposal’s power switch is off, push the dowel into the drain hole and hold it firmly against one of the impeller arms. Then push it in the counter-clockwise direction. This accomplishes the same thing from the top of the disposal as the jam key does from the bottom.

Once the jam is cleared, be sure to let the water run long enough to wash the obstruction down the drain. Avoid putting your hand inside the disposal.  If you need to extract something from it, try using a pair of pliers instead.

If you’ve tried all of these fixes and the disposal still isn’t working, it’s time to call in a professional. Your local Roto-Rooter plumber provides fast 24-hour service 7 days a week.

Call Roto-Rooter, that's the name, and away go troubles down the drain. Roto-Rooter!

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