Restarting A Jammed Garbage Disposal Unit

Waste disposal units

removing-a-waste-disposal-unit-jammedGarbage disposers come in two designs:  continuous feed and batch feed.  The continuous units allow you to push the waste directly into the top opening so it can be ground up and flushed away into the house drain system.  They are switch operated, usually from a wall next to the sink.

Batch feed models grind up and flush away the waste in the same way but don’t use externally mounted switches.  Instead, according to the Santa Cruz plumber of choice, they are activated when the cover is pushed into the disposal unit’s opening.

Waste is ground up and washed away one batch at a time.

⇒Plumbing smart tip

WHEN TO REPLACE A GARBAGE DISPOSAL UNIT

If, when using a wrench to free up a jammed waste-disposal unit, you can feel or hear a bearing grind or see lateral movement in the shaft, it is probably time to replace the unit.  Also, if after pressing the reset button your unit makes a low humming noise and then trips again, you should replace it.  As a last ditch effort, you might turn off the power supply, disconnect the disposal unit, and drop the unit out of the sink.

Once free, remove the large rubber gasket at its top.  This allows you to see directly into the drum to check for problems.  You might find a piece of string or some other object binding one of the impellers.  In most cases, however, the symptoms just mentioned signal a dead or dying unit.

The only tool you should need is a hex wrench – one probably came with your unit:

Tip #1  To free up a jammed disposal unit’s motor, first shut off the power to the unit at the electrical service panel.

Tip #2  Insert the tool that came with the unit (or a standard Allen wrench – “hex” ) into the end of the motor shaft, and turn it back and forth.

Tip #3  When the motor shaft starts to spin freely, remove the tool and turn on the power to the waste-disposal unit at the service panel.

Tip #4  Press the reset button to restart the stalled motor.

Removing a waste-disposal unit

Unlike drain fittings, garbage disposal units don’t usually become stuck to the bottom of sinks.  The reason has to do with their mounting mechanisms, which range from simple hose-clamp fasteners to threaded plastic collars to triple layer bolt-on-assemblies.  The triple-layer mechanism is by far the most common – and the most complicated.

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