How to Safely Unjam a Garbage Disposal

At Wexford Plumbing, we understand that a jammed garbage disposal can disrupt your daily routine and pose potential hazards. If your disposal unit stops functioning correctly, it’s important to handle the situation safely to avoid damage or injury. Below, we share expert tips on how to safely unjam your garbage disposal, reflecting our commitment to providing helpful advice alongside our professional plumbing services.

Step-by-Step Guide to Unjamming Your Garbage Disposal

Step 1: Turn Off the Power
Before attempting any repair, ensure the garbage disposal unit is turned off. For maximum safety, unplug the unit from the power outlet or turn off the breaker that controls the disposal. This prevents accidental activation while you’re working on it.


Step 2: Locate the Problem
Often, jams are caused by objects that are hard or large that the disposal can’t grind. Using a flashlight, look inside the disposal for objects like bones, fruit pits, or utensils. Do not insert your hand into the disposal during this check.


Step 3: Manual Rotation
If you can see the jamming object, try to remove it with pliers or tongs. Never use your hands even if the disposal is turned off. If the object cannot be seen, use an Allen wrench in the disposal’s breaker socket at the bottom of the unit. Try turning it back and forth to free up the impeller.


Step 4: Use a Wooden Dowel or Broom Handle
To move the impeller blades, place a wooden broom handle or a similar object into the disposal through the drain. Gently move the blades back and forth to loosen any jam. This movement can help dislocate whatever is causing the jam.


Step 5: Reset the Disposal
Once the jam is cleared, most disposals will need to be reset. Typically, there is a red reset button located at the bottom of the disposal unit. Press this button before turning the power back on. If the unit does not start, press the reset button again.


Step 6: Test the Disposal
After dealing with the jam and resetting the unit, restore power to the disposal and test it by running water and allowing it to function normally. It’s a good practice to run cold water while using the disposal to help flush out any debris.

Preventing Future Jams

  • Run Disposal Regularly: Regular use prevents rust and corrosion, keeping the components moving and less likely to seize up.
  • Avoid Fibrous Foods: Items such as celery, banana peels, corn husks, and onion skins can tangle around the disposal blades and cause jams.
  • Keep It Clean: Regularly clean your disposal by grinding ice cubes, which helps clean the blades and chamber walls.

Why Choose Wexford Plumbing?

At Wexford Plumbing, our experienced plumbers are experts in all aspects of garbage disposal maintenance, from unjamming to repair and replacement. Our commitment to timely, effective, and affordable service ensures your plumbing issues are resolved quickly and efficiently.


For assistance with any persistent disposal issues or other plumbing emergencies, do not hesitate to contact us. Our team is on call 24/7 to ensure your plumbing system operates smoothly. Visit our blog for more useful maintenance tips and to learn more about our wide range of plumbing services. Trust Wexford Plumbing to keep your home’s plumbing in optimal condition.