How To Clear Your Backed Up Garbage Disposal

It is a nuisance to find out your garbage disposal is backing up and you are unable to use it.

But what is causing the issues? Is it a blocked drain? Or maybe your garbage disposal will not turn at all? If you have a more serious drain issue, like a main drain clog, you can read this article.

But, if you have a small issue, be sure to continue reading to find out how to fix your backed up garbage disposal with ease.

How exactly does a garbage disposal work?

Garbage disposal does not have blades in it as most people think. There are impellers, and they do not chop up the food. They throw the food at a grinding ring in which the food is shredded into a mulch/liquid-like substance and then flushed down the drain.

Why is my garbage disposal backing up and how can you deal with it?

Not enough water: If you regularly do not use enough water when running your garbage disposal, this can lead to a build-up over time. When the garbage disposal is grinding up the food, it has to have enough water running through it to ensure that the food can flow through the drain efficiently.

If there is not enough water, the ground-up food will slowly build up inside the garbage disposal and along the drain line until the line becomes clogged and cannot drain any more water. That is when the garbage disposal starts backing up into the sink unit and you need to avail of drain cleaning services.

Coffee grounds and eggshells: It may not seem like a big deal to put eggshells and coffee grounds into your garbage disposal, but it is. Coffee grounds and eggshells make tiny granular waste that will stick to the slimy edges and particles already in your drain. Once they do this, it can cause a problem and can fester very quickly, leaving you with a garbage disposal backing up into sink units.

Non-food items: Non-food items can have detrimental effects on your garbage disposal, especially if it’s a large foreign object such as a knife, fork or spoon. When you are throwing food items into your garbage disposal, ensure that there are no foreign objects in the leftover waste. 

Fats, oils, and grease: Fats, oils and grease are horrible for your drain and can cause garbage disposal to start backing up. The fats, oils, and grease get stuck to the sides of the drain line and will attract other things such as coffee grounds and eggshells. 

Inspection and removal of the cause of the back up

The first thing you will need to do is take a flashlight and a pair of tongs. Make sure that you turn the breaker off to your garbage disposal and not just the switch. It is essential that no one can turn the garbage disposal on while you are working on it.

Take your flashlight and shine down the hole to the inside of the garbage disposal to see what is in there. If you can see large debris, such as bones, silverware, or anything else that could block your garbage disposal, you will need to use the tongs to remove it.

Once you ensure no large foreign objects are trapped in your garbage disposal, you can move on to the next stage. After trying each of these steps, you may need to check for a resettable switch on the garbage disposal.

Use a plunger

Garbage disposals are nothing like a standard drain. You cannot use a drain cleaner on it as the drain cleaner can eat away at the plastic and rubber bits inside the garbage disposal, which would be very bad. However, you can use a plunger.

Garbage disposals have sensitive components and moving parts, but if it is clogged and doesn’t seem to be a large piece of material that you can get to with tongs, a plunger might break it loose.

Find an excellent wide plunger that will cover the entire hole in the bottom of the sink and begin plunging. The plunger may be able to work the clog back and forth enough to break free, and you will have working garbage disposal again.

Try baking soda and vinegar

If your garbage disposal is not draining, you can start by adding a ¼ cup of baking soda to the garbage disposal, ensuring that there is at least some standing water in the bottom of the sink and garbage disposal. And then, you will get ½ cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar and slowly pour a cup of it into the garbage disposal. 

You will know that it is working because the water will begin to fizz and bubble up quite a bit. You will want to leave this in place for ten to twenty minutes. And then, you will try to run hot water down the drain to see if it clears out your backed-up garbage disposal.

Manually move the grinding ring

Ensure that the breaker is turned off on the garbage disposal to ensure your safety. Use something long and robust such as the tongs you had earlier and try to spin the auger wheels on the inside of the garbage disposal manually. 

Sometimes a garbage disposal will get hung up and needs to be broken free to get moving once again. And remember to check and see if there is a tripped resettable safety switch on the motor that needs a reset.

When to call a professional service

Garbage disposals can be intimidating pieces of equipment to a homeowner. You have electricity and water side by side and spinning gears that give everyone the fear of injuring themselves.

So if you have a backed-up garbage disposal that is not working correctly and you are worried about fixing it yourself, call a professional. To help avoid this problem, here are some garbage disposal maintenance tips.

Also, if you are not concerned about fixing it yourself, but you have tried everything on this list and are still asking yourself, “why is my garbage disposal backing up?” call a professional.

A professional will know exactly what they are doing and how to improve your garbage disposal while being efficient and speedy. 

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