Garbage disposals are no doubt an essential part of home daily living, making tasks in the kitchen easier and cleaner. However, like any other home appliance, they can sometimes malfunction and leave you with a backed-up sink full of unpleasant odors. One common problem homeowners experience is a jammed garbage disposal. The good news is that with this homeowner’s guide, you can fix the issue and save yourself the cost of a technician. For more complicated problems, it is always best to call a professional for garbage disposal repair.

1. Safety First

Before attempting to fix your jammed garbage disposal, it’s crucial to ensure your safety. Always ensure the unit is unplugged or the circuit breaker turned off so it doesn’t turn on unexpectedly. Wear protective gloves and avoid putting your hands down the disposal. Once you’re certain you’ve taken all the necessary safety measures, proceed to inspect the blades.

2. Check for Blockages

The primary cause of jammed garbage disposal is a foreign object trapped between the blades. In this case, you can use a flashlight to assess if there are any visible blockages. If there is, try carefully removing the obstruction with pliers or tongs. Never use your fingers to remove objects, as this can lead to injuries.

3. Reset and Inspect

If there are no visible blockages, try resetting the disposal by pushing the reset button, typically at the bottom of the unit. You may have to wait a few minutes before restarting the disposal. If this doesn’t work, an inspection is the next step. A jammed garbage disposal can also result from a malfunctioning motor or damaged blades. In this case, call a professional technician.

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4. Use the Wrench

If the reset button doesn’t help, use the disposal wrench, which should come with the unit. It’s a small L-shaped tool that fits into the bottom of the disposal and can be used to turn the blades manually. Insert the wrench into the center hole at the bottom of the disposal and turn clockwise until the blades start moving again. Once you’re done, remove the wrench and try using the disposal.

5. Preventative Measures

To avoid future jams, prevent large or hard objects from entering the disposal. Remember to run cold water whenever using your garbage disposal, and avoid putting grease, fat, and oils down the drain. Additionally, you can use ice cubes or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to clean the blades and maintain a fresh odor.

Fixing a jammed garbage disposal can be easy and less expensive than hiring a technician if you follow the right steps. Always prioritize your safety, check for blockages, reset the unit, inspect the disposal, and use the wrench appropriately. Remember to prevent future jams by taking preventative measures, and never hesitate to call a professional if the problem persists.