How To Fix a Clogged Garbage Disposal

Fred's Appliance
May 12, 2014

A garbage disposal is a convenient household appliance that will chop up and dispose of leftover food. With its motorized rotating blades, it makes quick work of dinner scraps. However, it’s not uncommon for garbage disposals to become clogged, temporarily preventing owners from using them. Before you call the local plumber, you should first attempt to fix the clog yourself.

Common Causes of a Clogged Garbage Disposal:

  • Pouring grease, vegetable oil, olive oil, and/or animal fat down the garbage disposal.
  • Placing flower or plant clippings down the garbage disposal.
  • Failing to sharpen the blades (dull blades may result in large chunks clogging the drain).
  • Pouring used coffee grounds down the garbage disposal.
  • A natural buildup of calcium or other minerals due to hard water.
  • Using hot water.

The Baking Soda and Vinegar ‘Trick’

One of the easiest ways to fix a clogged garbage disposal drain involves a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Pour half a box of baking soda down the side of your sink with the garbage disposal, and pour the remaining half down the drain on the opposite side of the sink. Now do the same with a bottle of filtered white apple cider vinegar.

The combination of vinegar and baking soda should result in a chemical reaction characterized by the production of expanding foam. You’ll likely notice the foam coming out from both sides of the sink, which is a sign it’s working. Hopefully, the expanding foam will push the clog out as well. Let the baking soda and vinegar solution sit for about 20 minutes before flushing it with hot water.

Remove The Pipe Trap

If the baking soda and vinegar did not fix your clogged garbage disposal, you should try removing the pipe trap underneath the sink. Most modern-day kitchen sink plumbing systems feature either an S or P-shaped trap. Open up the cabinet underneath your kitchen sink to see which type of pipe trap it possesses. Just as the name suggests, the “pipe trap” is designed to catch food and other debris, preventing it from running to the sewer or septic tank.

Place a bucket underneath the pipe trap and turn the locking mechanism to release it. Depending on the tightness of the pipes, you may need a pair of channel lock pliers. Once loose, remove the pipe trap and inspect it for clogged food or other gunk. Clean out any clogged debris you find and reattach it to the sink’s plumbing.

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