How to Unjam a Garbage Disposal System

How to Unjam a Garbage Disposal System

How to Unjam a Garbage Disposal System


Having a clogged waste disposal system is a problem that every homeowner will encounter occasionally. Your waste disposer can get blocked due to an accumulation of food-stuff, pieces of glass, debris from your home improvement project and other solid objects. If you are reading this, the chances are that you are seeking knowledge on how to unjam your garbage disposal unit.

Learn how to easily and properly unblock your waste disposal machine with this helpful guide. Discover various methods for removing objects that are blocking your waste disposal unit and how to restore it, without the help of a professional.

Tools You Will Need for the Job

  • A Flashlight
  • A hex wrench that properly fits the hex-shaped holes found in the bottom part of your disposer.
  • A pair of pliers or tongs

How to Unjam a Garbage Disposal System


  1. Turn off the Unit

Make sure your unit is turned off before you proceed. Obviously, this is for safety reasons. Simply unplug the machine or disengage the circuit breaker that serves it.

  1. Free the Rotors Using the Wrench

Beneath the sink, go to the bottom part of the disposer and locate a single hex-shaped hole from the numerous holes in this area. Then, fit the wrench into the hole, and force it back-and-forth in both directions a few times to free the rotors. While you may need to use this tool to free the impellers in certain models, other models feature a reversing switch that does the same job without you having to do it manually.

  • Non-Hex-Shaped Holes Beneath Your Disposer

Some units feature non-hex-shaped holes in their bottom section. If yours is one such unit, or you simply cannot find a hex wrench, just insert a short broomstick into the machine and force it down against one of the blades while trying to rotate the blade clockwise and counterclockwise.

  • Presence of a Hard Object Inside the Unit

A hard, solid object such as a piece of metal stuck inside your disposer can prevent the blades found inside the unit from shredding waste, which can cause a serious blockage. You don’t need to panic if that’s your current disposer scenario. Simply grab your tongs or pliers and pull that clogged material out.

  1. Dismantle the Disposer If Necessary

You may need to take your disposer apart to clear whatever is blocking the machine. This is a no-brainer task—the job is actually a lot easier to do than you might think. Simply go to the internet where there are plenty of easy-to-follow videos that walk you through the basic steps for dismantling your particular waste disposal unit.

How to Unjam a Garbage Disposal System

Safety Precautions

  1. Ensure that the machine’s switch is in the off position. Never place your unprotected hand inside the unit at any time. If you have to use your hand to take out any objects that are blocking your disposer, always put on safety gloves to protect your hands from the sharp blades inside the machine.
  1. If the sink is full of water because the unit is clogged, drain the water out before proceeding, using a pot or a bucket to hold the wastewater.This way, you will protect your fingers from sharp objects which may be lying beneath the water in the sink, such as pieces of your cutlery, or broken glass with sharp tips or edges.


Treat your waste management unit well, and it will treat you well. Because it is designed to grind a wide range of waste, the notion that it can simply make any kind of waste vanish is, quite simply, not true. Do not let fruit peels, pieces of glass, bottle caps, egg shells and other objects that are likely to block your waste disposal machine fall inside your disposal.

Now you know how to unjam a garbage disposal unit. If you have one that requires you to unblock it, simply follow the steps above and you will be able to restore your unit. You don’t need to call in a professional who will only add to your expenses because a blocked disposer is a simple plumbing problem that you can fix all by yourself. But remember, it is always easier to prevent a problem than to fix one.

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