When you have a problem with your garbage disposal unit, there are some simple things you can do to troubleshoot the issue before calling in a plumber.
There are quite a few different types of garbage disposals out there but they all have similar designs, which makes it possible to troubleshoot them yourself with just a little bit of knowledge.
Garbage disposal is a convenient kitchen appliance that chops up food scraps and other food waste in the drain of a sink. This is done by rotating motor-driven blades that grind the food waste into finer particles. When a garbage disposal isn’t draining, it can be a real pain. Fortunately, most problems are easy to solve.
A garbage disposal clogs and fails to drain when there’s an obstruction inside the unit or in the pipes to it. If you’ve been putting the wrong items into your disposal — like oil, grease, and fats — or if you haven’t been using enough water to flush out clogs, your disposal may start jamming and failing to drain.
In this quick guide, we’ll go over why garbage disposals clog, and then walk you through simple steps to removing a clog. After the problem is solved, you can follow some simple maintenance steps to keep your garbage disposal in good working order.
Garbage Disposal Not Draining – Troubleshoot And Diagnosis
Garbage disposals might seem like harmless appliances, but failure to use them correctly can lead to serious clogs and drain repair problems. The easiest way to prevent a clog is to follow the manufacturer’s directions and never put anything that isn’t food down the drain. Grease and oil cause clogs more often than anything else, so ensuring you wipe up from your dishes after washing them is crucial.
1. Use More Water
The biggest pet peeve for people with garbage disposals is when they run out of water. The plumbing in older homes is often not efficient enough to provide fresh water to the sink and the disposal at the same time.
A garbage disposal is a kitchen sink appliance that is designed to shred food waste into small pieces. The shreds are then washed away with water and go out through the pipes in your house.
Clogs are caused by tiny particles in your garbage disposal and sink build up. This means that water can’t drain anymore, which will cause a clog.
Running the tap while using the garbage disposal can prevent this completely. Just use hot water and it will wash away any food waste inside your pipes, and make sure that your water drains fast!
The result of this is that you won’t have clogs in your garbage disposal unit.
2. Use Only Recommended Food Items
Another reason you should avoid grinding the wrong food items is that you’ll also need to unclog your garbage disposal unit. When food cannot be grinded properly and pass through the drainage grates, an extensive build-up can occur. This build-up will prevent water from draining.
Thanks to innovative designs and technology, the best garbage disposal units are able to grind almost any food waste — including large amounts of solid waste with frequent use (such as restaurants). However, you should be aware that not all items can be grinded. For example, animal bones will get stuck inside the machine and cause clogs or blockages that prevent water from draining out.
Corn husks, potato skins, animal bones, rice and pasta, coffee grounds and other high-fiber food waste will all get caught in the drainage system. Your best bet is to avoid putting these ingredients down the drain by using your trash can.
When you put the wrong items into your garbage disposal, they’re going to get stuck and eventually form build-ups. Eventually, these build-ups will cause clogs that prevent the unit from draining properly, leading to a mess and nasty odors.
You can avoid this problem by following two easy rules: know what can go into the garbage disposal and don’t put inappropriate items in there.
3. Don’t Put Non Food Items Into Garbage Disposal
Many clogs can be traced back to food waste and improper garbage disposal usage — mostly due to people putting the wrong items in it!
Clogs are common problems with garbage disposals, and the reasons are usually paper towels, egg cartons, cardstock or any other items that can fit down the drain. In fact, even small pieces of food may cause a clog. So be sure to run plenty of cold water when you’re using a garbage disposal to clear it out after every use, and take care not put any of these items down the drain.
Garbage disposals were never designed to grind up non-food items. They work best with food scraps, like vegetables, fruit, and small amounts of meat. If you throw in large amounts of plastic or paper, the unit can jam up and you’ll need to clean it out. If you want to dispose of these types of things, use the trash can instead.
Note: your garbage disposal unit is designed to grind food waste into small particles. The unit’s blades are not that sharp to break down anything else, which could damage or even destroy the unit.
The best way to prevent food clogging is to avoid putting small, hard objects down the drain. While running a cycle of cold water, use the plunger to help push items through the disposal.
Alternatively, you can dump ice cubes and salt down the drain. These will make it easier for small debris to move past the blades.
4. Avoid Putting FOG items Into Garbage Disposal (Fat, Grease, Oil)
One of the biggest causes of clogs, leaks, and other plumbing problems is improper disposal of oil and grease. When disposed of incorrectly — by throwing it into the drainage system or down your sink or garbage disposal — oil and grease will stick to the inside surfaces of the piping system. That creates a solid block that prevents water from draining correctly.
FOG is short for food oil and grease, also known as FOG. This refers to the fat, oil, or grease that is collected in your kitchen when you cook with solid fats such as butter, lard, and meat drippings. When the grease solidifies, it can clog your pipes, leading to plumbing problems including leaks and backups. The accumulation of FOG in your sewer system can lead to costly repairs by a plumber.
Instead of putting the grease down the sink, pour it into the container provided. Keep in mind that containers will only store so much grease, which is not to be put down the drain. Grease should be stored in a cool, dark place until it can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
Use only cold water when running the garbage disposal. Cold water helps the fats, oils and grease (FOG) in food go down the drain instead of sticking to the walls of your pipes where they can cause clogs. When you use hot water, the FOG turns into a thick, pasty substance that sticks to pipe walls. It’s difficult for your garbage disposal to pulverize this sticky substance.
If you’ve ever had kitchen fat, oil, or grease clog your pipes, then you’ll understand why following these steps every time you cook can save you from a big plumbing bill. By doing this regularly, your unit stays clear and will drain water like normal instead of getting backed up.
How To Fix A Clogged Garbage Disposal
There are many ways to fix a clogged garbage disposal. Here is a quick list of the steps you can take:
The first thing to do when you get ready to clean in or around your garbage disposal unit is to unplug it. This will help keep the disposer from accidentally turning on — and protect you from any harm that might come as a result of it.
Plunge your drain. If you have a garbage disposal, it may be clogged by food particles. First, make sure the disposal is turned off. Then, pour a cup of ice cubes down the drain and run cold water while repeatedly plunging the drain to loosen the clog.
You’re looking for a bad clog, right? If you don’t have a tool handy, go ahead and try sticking a chopstick down the drain. You’ll definitely feel it if something gets stuck. There is also an option to use the Allen key that comes with the disposal unit itself: turn it to the left, then to the right, to shake the clogs loose.
You won’t be able to get rid of that nasty clog without clearing the pipes. There’s a pipe underneath the garbage disposal that connects it to the sewage system. The pipe is often blocked by pieces of food fiber or other materials, and once the disposal unit is turned on, it can’t send that material through the pipes.
The plumbing trap under the sink is clogged, water isn’t coming up through the drain. Most of the time this is caused by a food particle or other material falling into the trap and building up over time. If your garbage disposal is not draining it is usually because this trap is full of food particles, grease and sludge. You will have to remove the trap (usually easily done with two wrenchs) and clean it thoroughly.
Garbage Disposal Not Working And Sink Not Draining
With a clog in the pipes, your garbage disposal is no longer going to be working properly. The reason for this is because you are most likely going to be having issues with hard and tough food particles that get stuck in the drain.
On a similar note, another source of kitchen frustration is the garbage disposal. Everyone hates to see waste water backing up in the kitchen sink, and few things are more unsettling than hearing the grinding sound of a jammed garbage disposal. And these breakdowns are especially frustrating because a clogged sink or backed-up drain can be cleared out at home — it may just take some elbow grease.
Garbage disposals can clog, preventing the sink and entire kitchen from draining. Garbage disposals should be emptied regularly and specialists recommend doing this at least once a week. You will have to turn off the power and water running to the disposal and then unplug it to get it out. You will have to dispose of the garbage from the sink and wait for the system to drain.
Water Not Draining From Kitchen Sink With Garbage Disposal
If the sink water does not drain, it is likely there is a clog in the kitchen sink drain.
Unplug the garbage disposal and use a plunger to create suction in the drain and remove any clogs in the pipe.
If it does not clear the clog, then use a plumber’s snake to clear the blockage.
When I Turn On Garbage Disposal Water Comes Up
Garbage disposals can be clumsy at times, sometimes causing issues with the dishwasher. What you can do is pour some ice cubes one at a time into the disposal to melt and then pour. It will help to clean out the blades and track.
In some cases, the disposal doesn’t get enough water, so it does not grind the food properly. There is a simple fix for this which is to pour some cold water down the sides of the disposal until it is half full. Then turn on the disposer.
The disposer may also be clogged, so first check there’s nothing in the disposal to check the blades. You can also do a quick fix by pouring a pot of boiling water down the disposal in order to melt away any food in the disposal.
Hi there! I’m Sam Hendricks, and I’m a repair technician and expert. I created this website to help people like you save money and time by fixing your own appliances.
Over the years, I’ve seen people spend a lot of money on unnecessary repairs or replacements. That’s why I decided to share my expertise and create easy-to-follow guides for fixing appliances on your own.