How to Repair a Garbage
Fixing a garbage disposal can
be easy with some luck or with some good creativity the problem can be solved. In most cases what happens is the
disposal is humming which indicates the motor is still trying to turn, but the grinding mechanism is
The golden rule with any electrical device is to turn off
the power. This can be done sometimes directly under the sink where the garbage disposal is plugged into an
outlet. If not you will have to disconnect at the electrical box. The next step is to look inside from the top
into your disposal with a flashlight to see if any visible object that might have caused the jam.
Generally an object will end up in the disposal where they
do not belong and must be removed. If the object is steel or iron, you can use a telescoping extraction tool
that has a magnet on the tip to safely remove the item. However, you may need some creativity if the object is
not magnet worthy such as coins.
Duct tape that is rolled up onto the end of a pencil might
help you grab it, or even a piece of chewing gum. Another option is the old chopstick method using two butter
knives can also be very effective. Please remember none of these improvised techniques should ever be attempted
before checking the power is off.
Sometimes the object cannot be seen or perhaps it is
jammed between the grinding mechanism and the side of the disposal. In this case you will need to turn or "spin"
the grinding mechanism by hand because the motor is not strong enough to do it by itself. Nearly all the newer
disposals have a hex head slot directly under the center of the unit. To see it you will need to use your
flashlight again to look underneath for the opening. By inserting the correctly sized Allen head wrench into
this hole, you can gently turn the disposal's mechanism back and forth to free the blockage. Check the chamber
again for any loose material. You may have to repeat this step several times to get the object
If your disposal does not have the hex head slot
underneath, you will need to use other options to achieve to free the mechanism. A piece of wood such as a broom
handle or a 1'' X 2'' board will do the job. Just insert from the top into the chamber and push it against the
grinding arms to loosen the mechanism. Try to be patient and work from both directions until the mechanism spins
freely. Do not try to put a wrench on the exposed nut in the middle of the chamber because the holds everything
together and loosening it may cause a much larger problem than you already have.
JC Mims has spent a lifetime in the construction industry and is an avid DIY'r. You can learn
more about garbage disposals and find product reviews of popular brands and models like the InSinkerator Evolution.
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