How to Use Your Garbage Disposal (And Get It Unjammed!)

Garbage disposals are extremely popular in the United States. Here in the south, more homes have them than don’t and most people can’t imagine a kitchen sink without one. Unfortunately, all too many people are using their garbage disposals the wrong way (just asking for a jam!)

1 Call Plumbing repairs broken garbage disposals in Charlotte and all over the metro area. Sometimes disposals can be un-stuck and sometimes they need replacing. In too many cases, human error is the cause of the issue. Here are a few tips from our expert plumbers on how to properly use your garbage disposal and how you can get it unjammed.

There are a few “must dos” when it comes to using your garbage disposal. A few things you should always DO with your disposal include:

  • – Always run water when you’re grinding up food to create good flow through your pipes. Use cold water – if any residual grease makes it into the disposal it will solidify so it can be chopped up before making it into your pipe system.
  • – Keep your disposal clean! That means regularly running soapy water through the disposal as well as grinding up very small “hard” materials such as eggshells; these actually scour the interior walls of your disposal.
  • – Use your disposal often. Running your disposal prevents rust and corrosion from forming and ensures nothing builds up in the appliance over time.


Along with the DOs, there are plenty of don’ts! Don’t ever put anything into your disposal that is not biodegradable food. Don’t pour liquified grease (such as bacon grease) down the disposal as this may clog your pipes. Never, ever stick your hand down in the disposal without ensuring the machine’s power source is off and wearing protective gloves. Also – don’t fill the disposal chamber full of food and then turn it on. Turn on the water first and then feed food in steadily, leaving the water on for a few seconds at the end to wash out the drain line.

Those don’ts are obvious, but there are a few many people seem not to know. Common, “I didn’t know that!” issues include:

Don’t put fibrous materials such as corn husks, long vegetable peels, or onion skins in the disposal
Don’t grind foods that expand when wet such as pasta or rice; these can clog your pipes
Don’t pour harsh drain cleaners into your disposal as these can harm the machine’s interior components


What should you do if your garbage disposal is jammed?
You might need the help of a licensed plumber in Charlotte, but if you’d like to try to unjam the machine yourself, you can.

First, check to see if the machine just needs to be reset. There is usually a small red or black switch on the disposal’s motor under the sink. Flip the switch and try again.

Next, try using the handle of a wooden spoon to knock loose whatever is jamming the disposal. If that doesn’t work, identify the hex socket under the disposal unit, then use a hex wrench to work the impeller hub back and forth. This usually loosens the object jamming the disposal.

Still stuck? Call a plumber in Charlotte! 1 Call Plumbing will be happy to send an experienced plumber right to your home to evaluate your disposal and suggest a fix. If you need a new disposal? We can handle that, too.

Reach us anytime at 704.563.8182