Dealing With a Clogged or Blocked Garbage Disposal

OK, so your garbage disposal is blocked, and gross stuff is bubbling up from the clogged drain. What do you do? You could call your friendly neighborhood plumber (like us), but before you do, here are a few tips to chase away the garbage disposal blues.

Common garbage disposal problems and solutions

Over time, garbage disposals tend to get slower, and grease and food particles build up on the grinding blades and in the drain. Garbage disposals can also start emitting foul odors, get jammed, or worse, clogged up with nasty gunk. Here are some common problems we see with garbage disposals:

  • Garbage disposal is draining too slowly or waste is bubbling up from the drain. Guess what? There’s a clog somewhere. Avoid chemical drain cleaners. Break it up using vinegar and baking soda, followed by hot water.
  • Garbage disposal is leaking. This usually means something needs a new coat of sealant. Call a licensed plumber.
  • Garbage disposal won’t turn on. If you turn on your disposal but don’t hear any sound or just a hum, then it might be broken or jammed. Turn the power off, then clear anything blocking the impeller blades. Nothing there? Hit the reset button. If it still won’t work, it might be time for a new disposal.
  • The garbage disposal has an oily, greasy clog. Boil a large pot of water. Slowly pour it down the drain until it clears. If that’s not enough to clear it, try adding some vinegar into the mix. The boiling hot water liquifies solidified grease and oils, while the vinegar dislodges grease that’s stuck to the pipes.

How do garbage disposals get clogged?

We’ve all put food and other items down our disposals and kitchen drain that we know we probably shouldn’t. Once or twice might not make a difference, but over time, these substances can build up inside your drain and pipes and cause bigger problems that will require professionals to fix. Here are some things to avoid putting down your garbage disposal:

  • Never put kitchen grease or cooking oils down the garbage disposal or drain. Oil can very quickly build up and cause a clog, creating an entirely new mess along with a potentially expensive repair bill.
  • Coffee grounds. They can reduce odors in the short term, but also cause more serious problems in the long term. Used coffee grounds can combine with grease and other waste to form a dense clog.
  • Bones of any kind. Garbage disposals are meant to grind up and dispose of food waste. Garbage disposals are not designed to grind extremely hard items.
  • Onion or potato skins. Most won’t cause a problem, but the thin outer membranes and skins can get caught on the walls of the pipes or even act as a net, catching and trapping waste until a clog occurs.
  • Celery, rhubarb, pumpkin or other fibrous vegetables. The long, fibrous strands can get caught in the blades, creating a nasty mess. The fibers that do wash through into the pipes can be just as bad as hair!

How to get the smell out of your garbage disposal

  • Grind up citrus peels. Run some fresh or frozen citrus peels through the disposal. Grapefruit, orange, lemon or lime peels can all be used, but avoid the seeds. The oils from citrus peels act like an astringent, cutting through grease build-up and leaving behind a fresh, clean scent. Flush with cold water, and you’re done!
  • Clean with baking soda and vinegar. Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the disposal, and then add a cup of heated vinegar. Pour it in, let it foam up. Use the stopper so everything happens inside the disposal chamber. Let everything sit for a few minutes. To finish the job, pour in some boiling water to wash everything away. Have a two-sided sink? Don’t forget to clean the drain on the other side of the disposal as they share a common drainpipe.

Hopefully, these tips have helped unblock your garbage disposal and now it’s working fine and smells fresh and clean. But if you’re still having problems with your garbage disposal, call your Comfort Heroes today. Give us a call at 602-483-6868 or fill out our online form.