Finding that your garbage disposal won’t drain is quite an unpleasant experience. If you’re in this situation, your instincts may tell you to pick up the phone and call your plumber. However, why would you spend a good amount of money on something that you can easily do yourself? Even if you’re not experienced, learning how to unclog a garbage disposal with standing water is easier than most would believe it to be.
How Do I Unclog a Garbage Disposal?
We’ll teach you how to unclog a garbage disposal and prevent future clogs in 7 easy-to-follow steps. Follow the instructions below to get your disposer back in tip-top shape.
Step 1. Disable Power
Prior to working on any food waste disposer issue, you must turn off and unplug your unit. Even though you won’t be flicking the wall switch on and off, you can never be too careful with garbage disposers. After you unplug the disposal from the outlet under your sink, turn off its circuit breaker as well.
Step 2. Prepare Work Area
Learning how to unclog a garbage disposal can get a little messy. To prevent extra time wasted on mopping up the contents clogging your disposer, protect the area under your sink. We recommend placing a few towels under the unit and a bucket that’s large enough to catch water. When you’re done, you’ll just have to remove them from your under-sink area.
Step 3. Disassemble P-trap
Now, you have to reach the source of the clog. Use a pair of pliers to untighten the slip nut on the drain trap where it connects to the wall. Take your time when loosening the assembly and gently remove the trap from the pipes. Don’t be startled if water spills out – it often happens when disassembling drain traps.
Step 4. Clear the Drain Arm
If your garbage disposal won’t drain, the cause is most likely in the drain arm. Using a tool like a sink auger or coat hanger, remove any materials that may be stuck in the pipe. Do note that obstructions often appear in the area where the pipe bends. Make sure you thoroughly clean the pipe before proceeding to the next step.
Step 5. Reassemble P-trap
Put the P-trap fittings back together again. When screwing the slip nut, ensure that you don’t tighten it too much. Putting too much pressure can lead to cracking the pipes or other plastic components.
Step 6. Enable Power and Run Water
Make sure that the area around the outlet is dry before plugging your garbage disposal back in. After you plug the unit in, turn on its circuit breaker. Run a stream of cold water and turn on the disposer from its wall switch. Let the water and disposal run simultaneously for a couple of minutes so that any remaining debris get flushed down the drain. When you’re all done, remove the catch bucket and towels from under your sink.
Step 7. Prevent Future Clogs
The most important part of dealing with garbage disposal issues is prevention. As we explained in our garbage disposal maintenance tips, a handful of precautions can go a long way for the product life of your food waste disposer. Just a few examples of regular measures you can take are:
- Running your garbage disposal regularly with cold water
- Cutting up food into smaller pieces before grinding them
- Not using any chemical cleaners (alternatives: baking soda, vinegar, etc.)
To conclude, you now know that learning how to unclog a garbage disposal is pretty much a piece of cake. As long as you followed our guidelines, your unit should be up and running again without any issues. You can also bookmark our guide for fixing common garbage disposals problems in case you undergo any other issues. How was your experience unclogging your garbage disposal? Let us know in a comment below!