What goes into the garbage disposal has to come out, so clogged garbage disposal drains can be a big problem. As drain clogs start out of sight, your first signs might be odd noises or slow draining. You may only realize you have a clog when the food has backed up to the disposal’s blades where you can see it. Once that’s happened you have a few options to fix your clogged garbage disposal drain.
How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal Drain
To unclog your garbage disposal, turn it off and grab thin nosed pliers (the long, skinny ones), or a thin pair of tongs and begin to remove any backed-up food you can. Don’t put your fingers in the garbage disposal even when it is turned off. Not only is it unsafe, but cleaning out a clog that started in the drain is pretty gross, there will be a lot of food scraps.
Once you have removed all the food you can, run the garbage disposal while pouring water down it. Often this will clear clogs that were caused by food build-up or improper use of the garbage disposal.
If the garbage disposal is still clogged than the clog is too far into the drain for you to reach. It is best to call a plumber at this point, as they will need to disconnect the garbage disposal to remove the clog.
How Not to Unclog a Garbage Disposal Drain
Few homeowners have the knowledge or equipment to clean a clog in the garbage disposal’s drain, and there is a lot of misinformation out there. If you can’t dislodge the clog, don’t use these methods, or you may end up replacing the whole garbage disposal and that is more expensive than a quick unclog from your plumber.
- Baking soda and vinegar: While combining these two makes a satisfying fizzing noise, they aren’t going to do anything for your clog. They’ll spit out loose food from the disposal, but not the clog. Also, they could wear down your pipes and sealant.
- Lemon peels and ice cubes: If running water through the garbage disposal didn’t do anything for the clog, crushing ice won’t either. Besides, lemon peels are a weaker version of baking soda. They’re unlikely to do damage, but they won’t work.
- Plungers: Plungers do have the ability to clear clogs. However, they will also damage your garbage disposal, maybe causing a leak or ruining the blades. Garbage disposals are much more fragile than toilets and need to be unclogged with very precise equipment that applies the right amount of pressure.
- Chemicals: Some drain cleaning chemicals can clear garbage disposal clogs, but they have serious adverse effects on your plumbing, never mind the ability to strip rust-proof coatings off your garbage disposal pipes. Chemicals may give you a quick fix. But, when you use them, you’re signing up for more serious repairs down the road.
It’s certainly a hassle to have a garbage disposal drain clog. The good news is that after your clog is cleared by a professional, you can avoid having a clog in the future by flushing the disposal with water after every use and avoiding disposing of starchy foods.