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How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

Sink drains with garbage disposals can get clogged up eventually. This is especially likely if you don’t let the water run for several seconds after the disposal is done grinding. How to unclog a garbage disposal requires disassembling the pipe fittings beneath the sink. A clog in the waste lines leading away from the disposal cannot be remedied by running the grinder.

Tools Needed How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

  • Channel-lock pliers
  • Bucket
  • Flexible bottle brush
  • Drain snake
  • Rags
  • Vinyl dish gloves

Food Waste Most Likely to Clog Your Pipes

A garbage disposal is very useful for processing food waste, but it is not magic. Eggshells and coffee grinds are notorious for making a concrete-like sludge that will form a clog. Additionally, processing potato skins or banana peels in the disposer will build clogs eventually. Although this knowledge could help you avoid new clogs in the future, you need to unclog the pipes now.

Directions for How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

  1. Disconnect the power supply to garbage disposal. Usually, you can unplug the machine under the sink. If it is hardwired in, turn off the circuit breaker supplying power to it.
  2. Slide a bucket under the P-trap PVC pipe under the sink. It leads from the disposal to the drain line going into the wall.
  3. Loosen the slip-nut fittings at both ends of the P-trap with channel-lock pliers.
  4. As the fittings come loose, pause to let the water dribble into the bucket.
  5. Pull out the P-trap and dump its contents in the bucket.
  6. Inspect it for clogs.
  7. Use a bottle brush or bent coat hanger to dislodge the grime and clogs into the bucket.
  8. Now loosen the slip-nut holding the trap arm to the main waste line in the wall.
  9. Pull free the trap arm and clean the inside of the pipe as well.
  10. While everything is disassembled, you might as well snake the main line. You don’t want to put the pipes back together only to discover you have a clog farther down the system.
  11. Take the drain snake, also known as a drum auger, and turn the handle to feed the line down the pipe going into the wall.
  12. Once the snake line is fully extended, turn the handle the other way and draw it back.
  13. Feed the snake back down and up the pipe one more time for good measure.
  14. Reassemble the trap arm and P-trap.
  15. Once the slip-nuts are hand tight, tighten them more with the channel-lock pliers.
  16. Do not over-tighten the slip-nuts, or you could risk cracking pipes.
  17. Take away the bucket and wipe up spills under the sink.
  18. Restore power to the garbage disposal.
  19. Turn on the faucet and let the water run for five minutes.
  20. Place the stopper in the sink drain and fill the sink.
  21. Pull the stopper to flush the lines more forcefully.

Experienced Plumbers Serving the Delaware Valley

Cleaning garbage disposal lines certainly has a yuck factor to it. You also might not have time to deal with the annoyance. If you want someone to unclog the garbage disposal or install a new one, turn to the experts at Oliver. Our licensed plumbers work in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Tell us about your plumbing problem and ask for an estimate today.

Need help with this project?

If you do not have the time, tools, or experience necessary to complete the project, please contact the professionals at Oliver for help.

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