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How to fix a garbage disposal

Garbage disposals are the unsung heroes of the kitchen, taking care of our various food scraps with the flip of a switch. But from time to time, your garbage disposal may experience a jam and stop working.

Garbage disposals can jam for a variety of reasons. A bone may be lodged in the drain or a utensil may have found its way between the internal impeller blades.

Fortunately, these issues are often easily fixable. Read on for our simple troubleshooting tips and advice.

What to Do If Your Garbage Disposal Is Stuck

Test the power outlet. This will likely be in the cabinet under the sink. Unplug the garbage disposal and plug in a food processor or blender, to see if it’s powered. If these appliances don’t turn on either, check your circuit breakers to see if the one providing electricity to your disposal has tripped. Turn it back on, then return to the kitchen to check if the garbage disposal is working.

Press the reset button. When a garbage disposal overheats, the reset button may pop out. This is the equivalent of your home’s circuit breakers tripping when overloaded. To fix it, make sure the disposal’s wall switch is set to “off” before doing anything else. Then wait a few minutes to allow it to cool off. Finally, open the cabinets underneath your sink and look for the cylinder that holds the disposal. Feel around the bottom for the red reset button and push it back in. Turn the switch back on to see if it works. If you hear a hum, something inside is jammed.

If you’ve tried all of the above and the disposal still isn’t working, your garbage disposal may be jammed. In that case, you’ll have to manually unjam it.

How to Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal in 7 Steps


Hex wrench; select one that fits the socket on the bottom of the garbage disposal housing Flashlight

Tongs and/or a fork


Step 1. Unplug the garbage disposal from the outlet. If it’s hardwired, make sure the wall switch is in the OFF position.

Step 2. Use your flashlight to peer into the drain opening and check if you can see the obstruction. If you can, carefully remove the object using tongs or a fork. Never stick your fingers inside a garbage disposal. If you can’t see or remove the obstruction proceed to the next step.

If you can successfully remove the obstruction, skip to step 6.

Step 3. Locate the hex socket on the center of the underside of the garbage disposal (see picture below), Using the hex wrench, work it back and forth. This will loosen the impeller hub, as well as any object blocking it.

Step 4. When you remove the object and the blades are spinning freely, use the hex wrench to screw the bottom back on.

Step 5. Plug the disposal back into the outlet.

Step 6. Press the reset button; this is typically a red button on the bottom of the unit.

Step 7. Test the garbage disposal by turning the device on while the water is running.

Note: If this does not fix the jam, the clog may be more serious or it’s possible the motor has burned out. In this case, the garbage disposal will need to be replaced.

If you can’t unjam your garbage disposal yourself, contact your local plumber. At Gen X Plumbing, we provide comprehensive plumbing services to the Southern Middle Tennessee area.

If you’re in need of plumbing repair services for your garbage disposal give us a call today, or schedule an appointment online.

Gen X Plumbing ...24/7 emergency service!

335 Sunshine circle

Decherd, Tn. 37324

Ph# (931) 313-5194


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