How To Un-Jam a Garbage Disposal Safely

Since you rely on your garbage disposal daily to speed through kitchen cleaning tasks, it can be frustrating when it’s jammed. Fortunately, a humming disposal is often a simple fix, even if you don’t immediately know what the cause is. Here’s a how-to guide assembled by the plumbing professionals at Len The Plumber to help you safely un-jam your garbage disposal.

Common Causes of a Jammed Garbage Disposal

If you hear your disposal humming, it’s more likely that there’s a jam somewhere inside the machine rather than a sign that you need to replace your disposal. Here are the most common causes for a jammed or humming garbage disposal:

  • Seeds or pits: If you’ve carved a melon or sliced fruit with a pit near your kitchen sink recently, the seeds or pit might have fallen into the disposal. You probably heard a thunk noise from a fruit pit, but seeds can be sneaky. If given the chance, seeds will take root in the disposal’s moist environment and jam the blades.
  • Coffee grounds: Your morning coffee might keep you going throughout the day, but it has the opposite effect on your disposal. Coffee grounds wear down disposal blades over time.
  • Eggshells: It’s not necessarily the shell itself that causes a jammed garbage disposal — it’s the stringy membrane, which can also cause a lingering smell that you’ll need to clean. For this reason, it’s best to throw eggshells in the trash, not the disposal.
  • Grease: If cooking grease is allowed to cool and solidify, it can be a nightmare for the disposal blades and cause drain clogs that will be difficult to clean. If your disposal is humming, the drain is clogged, and if you don’t see a solid object jammed in the blades, grease could be the culprit.

Safety Tips for Loosening the Jam

Even if you cut power to the disposal, you should handle the area around your garbage disposal’s blades the same way you handle a kitchen knife when you’re slicing vegetables near your fingers.

When unjamming your disposal:

  • Try to reset it: If you don’t see any visible obstruction at all, you might need to reset your garbage disposal. Sometimes, disposals overheat and turn themselves off automatically. Press the reset button on top of the disposal under the sink and then turn it on again. If that doesn’t work, there might be a jam, or it might be a sign that it’s time to replace your disposal.
  • Cut the power: To eliminate the chance that your disposal can hop back to life at any moment, turn off your disposal. Depending on the manufacturer, there’s likely a switch below the sink, but you can also flip your kitchen’s breaker switch.
  • Use tongs or a long spoon: Avoid direct contact with the blades by using a long object to remove the obstruction. If, for some reason, you must touch the blades themselves with your fingers, make sure you’ve eliminated the chance that the disposal can turn itself back on automatically by following the step above to shut off the power.

Keeping Your Garbage Disposal Jam-Free

Thankfully, keeping your garbage disposal clean to reduce your risk of a jam is simple. Toss 2 cups of ice and 1 cup of salt in your sink, turn on the water, and run your disposal. Doing this at least once a month will help keep your garbage disposal clear of any jams.

Call Len The Plumber for Help Repairing Your Jammed Disposal

Now that you know a few tips to stay safe while attempting to un-jam your garbage disposal, you’ll be able to solve most stuck disposal issues. However, the safest way to remove a jam is to call a professional plumber. Our certified plumbers have experience unjamming thousands of disposals and can get to your home and solve any plumbing issue quickly and safely.

For same day service, seven days a week, contact Len The Plumber today! We’ll dispatch a certified plumber to your home immediately. Schedule an appointment online or call us now at (800) 950-4619.

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