My Garbage Disposal is Jammed, Now What?

My Garbage Disposal is Jammed, Now What?

Ever since inventor John W. Hammes sold his first InSinkErator to the public in 1940, people have had a love/hate relationship with them. They are great when they work, but cooks cuss them like crazy when they fail. The great news is that if you find yourself with a jammed garbage disposal, then it is usually something you can fix by yourself by following some easy steps to unclog a jammed garbage disposal. After reading this article, you will know how to unjam a garbage disposal.

Step 1: Try the Reset Button

The first step is to try the reset button that is usually located under the garbage disposal. Push the button in and see if it remains depressed. If it does, then turn on the cold water and try to operate the disposal. If not, then wait 10 minutes and try to push the button again.  Sometimes this little trick will fix a jammed garbage disposal immediately.  If not, read on.

Step 2: Unplug the Garbage Disposal from Electricity

Garbage disposals are electrical units. Before you go any further, make sure that it is unplugged from the electricity. You may have to turn off a circuit breaker to make sure that it gets no juice. Never work on a garbage disposal that has live electricity running to it.

Step 3: Use an Allen Wrench

When your garbage disposal was new, it came with a Hex-head Allen wrench. Locate that wrench and climb under the sink. Now, locate the shaft to the garbage disposal. Using the wrench, first turn the shaft one complete turn counterclockwise. Then, turn it clockwise until the garbage disposal becomes unjammed.

Step 4: Unjam the Garbage Disposal from the Top

It is far better to unjam the garbage disposal from the bottom than from the top, as you can do damage to the cutting blades. If you have been unsuccessful from the bottom, then try to unjam the unit from the top after making sure that the unit is still turned off. Stick the Allen wrench down into the drain. Move the Allen wrench around until you have it firmly placed on the cutting blade. While holding the cutting blade, turn it one complete rotation counterclockwise. Then, move it clockwise until the unit becomes unjammed.

Step 5: Restore the Power

Now that you have the unit unjammed, then make sure to reconnect the garbage disposal to the power. This usually means that you need to turn the circuit breaker in the opposite direction.

Step 6: Run Cold Water

After unjamming the garbage disposal, turn it on and run cold water down the drain for at least 10 minutes. This helps to remove any remaining food from the unit and helps to ensure that it keeps operating smoothly.

You can be proud that you now know how to fix a jammed garbage disposal by yourself. It is important to keep it unjammed in the future. Start by never putting grease or fat down the drain, as this can cause the unit to become jammed. Also, never put extremely hard to grind items down the drain. Some of these items include bones, celery, fruit pits, eggshells and coffee grounds. Make sure that every time that you use the unit, you run cold water for several minutes to keep food from building up inside the garbage disposal.


Justin Curtis

I am not a professional plumber, but I do feel like I am pretty handy :). I would love to hear your comments about this post or others. Thanks for reading!

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Trudie - May 5, 2020

I used an Allen Wrench and pushed the reset button and to no avail. My sister told me she has had the same problem where her disposa was humming and suggested a plunger. Guess what it took 10 seconds and the plunger worked. I just saved almost $200:00!


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