• If your garbage disposal is jammed, you’ll be glad to know this is something you can likely fix yourself. Photo: A Reliable Handyman (2017)

  • Most people don’t realize that garbage disposals come with tools that are specifically designed to unblock jams. Photo: A Reliable Handyman (2017)

  • If you don’t have a tool for unjamming your disposal, you can also try using a broom handle. Photo: A Reliable Handyman (2017)

Gifford Teeple is owner of A Reliable Handyman. To reach Gifford Teeple call (510) 200-0450.
How to Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal

EL CERRITO – One of the most common plumbing problems in the kitchen is a clogged or jammed garbage disposal. You may assume this requires the assistance of a plumber, but in many cases, you can easily resolve the problem yourself.

First, check if the disposal merely needs to be reset by pressing the red “reset” button at the bottom of the unit and testing it again. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll need to manually “unjam” it.

Most people don’t realize that garbage disposals come with tools that are specifically designed to unblock jams. Usually, this tool is located in a small compartment beneath the unit. However, if you’ve lost your tool, a simple quarter-inch Allen wrench will serve the same purpose.

Before attempting to unjam your disposal, make sure the power is shut off, whether by unplugging it or turning off the breaker. Insert your tool into the appropriate slot (located in the center of the unit’s underside) and rotate it back and forth. This motion will turn the disposal’s grinding unit, which will help dislodge anything that’s caught in the teeth. After removing the tool, restore power to the device, run the faucet and turn on the disposal. You may need to hit the reset button again, as its automatic shut-off may have been triggered.

If you don’t have a tool that fits into the disposal’s slot, try using a broom handle. Spray some WD-40 into the disposal to loosen it up, insert the broom handle and crank it around manually. Restore power to the unit, turn the water on and test it again.

Gifford Teeple is a longtime veteran of the home repair industry and owner of A Reliable Handyman, a Diamond Certified company since 2005. He can be reached at (510) 200-0450 or by email.

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