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How to Safely Unclog a Garbage Disposal

A malfunctioning garbage disposal is an issue homeowners should not ignore. If you hear a funny sound coming out of your kitchen drain when you try to shred those leftovers, you’re right to check for a clog in the disposal unit. The good news is that there’s a relatively simple fix that will probably unclog the disposal. You’ll want to take precautions to ensure your personal safety, but if you’re wondering how to safely fix a disposal that’s acting up, here are a few things to try before calling your local Columbus plumbers.

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Shut Off the Circuit Breaker to Your Garbage Disposal Unit

This is step one. Make sure the wall switch is off, then switch off that breaker. We all know what a disposal can do to eggshells and food scraps, so play it smart. Better safe than sorry.

Where’s Your Allen Wrench?

Unless the installers were particularly stingy, your garbage disposal came with an Allen wrench (also known as a hex key) . This is a handy tool to get any disposal back up and running. If you’re not sure where that supplied Allen wrench is, a standard wrench set should have the size you’ll need. Test hex sizes on the bottom center of the disposal unit (located under your sink) until you find the tool that fits.

Once you’ve located the appropriate Allen wrench size to fit your garbage disposal unit, you can work the tool back and forth in that bottom center slot of the disposal. With any luck this will dislodge whatever’s causing your garbage disposal clog.

Unfortunately, if this doesn’t do the trick, it’s a sign you’re probably going to have to call your local plumbers. Chances are you’re looking at a new garbage disposal installation.

But… Try This First!

Before you break down and call Plumbing One or your preferred residential plumber for a disposal repair or installation, there is another potential DIY solution you can try. It comes recommended in this short video as a post-fix drain cleaning method by Danny Lipford of Today’s Homeowner.

After performing the Allen wrench method, which we recommend you try first, Lipford suggests pouring baking soda down the drain, followed by a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Wait 5 minutes, and then pour boiling water down the drain to chase the baking soda and vinegar. Following these steps will give your disposal a thorough cleaning. If working on the bottom center slot of the unit with an Allen wrench didn’t work, this just may help to dislodge the object or objects clogging your garbage disposal.

We hope that one of these methods works for you! If you do find your garbage disposal is unresponsive to these fixes, it’s time to call the local plumber. A clogged garbage disposal unit can definitely be a frustrating discovery in the home kitchen. We’ve seen it a million times. If yours proves beyond DIY repair, give our team of residential plumbing experts a call. We’ve been repairing and replacing garbage disposals in Central Ohio for years. We’re always happy to take a look and recommend a course of action.

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