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  #1  
Old 09-30-2007, 12:35 PM
Glory Glory is offline
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Help with clogged drain/garbage disposal issue

Hey - I could use some help because I was an idiot last night. Without thinking, I dumped 2 entire to-go containers of P.F. Chang's rice down the garbage disposal (I have had a garbage disposal for years and never knew you weren't supposed to put rice down it - makes sense now ). Sink backed up.

My boyfriend (patience of a SAINT) took all the pipes under the sink apart - there is no rice left anywhere in the pipes under the sink.

If I run the faucet AND the garbage disposal at the same time while stopping up the second sink, water goes down happily. As soon as I turn the garbage disposal off, the sink backs up again. If I unstopper the second sink, the water backs up in the second sink even when the garbage disposal is running.

Any thoughts or suggestions? It is a second floor condo. I just moved in and would hate to pay a plumber - it would be a financial burden.

I don't get why the water goes down why the garbage disposal is running - I checked all the other drains in the house - it's not backing up into the dishwasher or anyplace else.

Much thanks in advance!!
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  #2  
Old 09-30-2007, 01:47 PM
LVgeogeek LVgeogeek is offline
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I did something similar once.

I was in a fit of kitchen cleaning and without thinking I dumped somewhere near 8 cups of DRY rice down the disposer (it had weevils--eeewww!). Clogged the sink drain up something terrible. Mr. Geek plunged (is that a word?) the sink until it quit backing up, similar to what you have going on.

So, you could try using a plunger on it and see if that helps. I do have to warn you, though, what comes up might be really disturbing!
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Old 09-30-2007, 02:17 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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If a plunger doesn't work then you might have to chase it with a plumber's snake which means the pipes have to come off again. I'm a little hesitant to recommend a drain cleaning product because I just had to rip out the ceiling in my kitchen to replace all the upstairs drains. My main line had a slight backflow built into it and the acid just pooled until it ate a 2 X 8" hole in the pipe. I REAAAALLY enjoyed working on the kitchen while starting a new job.
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Old 09-30-2007, 02:38 PM
Valgard Valgard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver
If a plunger doesn't work then you might have to chase it with a plumber's snake which means the pipes have to come off again. I'm a little hesitant to recommend a drain cleaning product because I just had to rip out the ceiling in my kitchen to replace all the upstairs drains. My main line had a slight backflow built into it and the acid just pooled until it ate a 2 X 8" hole in the pipe. I REAAAALLY enjoyed working on the kitchen while starting a new job.
Second the plumber's snake. You can get a cheap hand-powered one for about $15 at the hardware store, or spend $5 more and get one that's powered by a drill. I've had both and highly recommend the drill-powered model (assuming that you have a power drill). Remove the pipes under the sink, run the snake in there and have at it (following the directions). That'll break up anything it hits.
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  #5  
Old 09-30-2007, 02:45 PM
Glory Glory is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions - are you recommending running the snake where the pipe goes into the wall?

Can anyone explain why the sink happily drains while the garbage disposal is running - that is the biggest mystery to me!
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  #6  
Old 09-30-2007, 07:11 PM
Sofaspud Sofaspud is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glory
Thanks for the suggestions - are you recommending running the snake where the pipe goes into the wall?

Can anyone explain why the sink happily drains while the garbage disposal is running - that is the biggest mystery to me!
IANAP (Plumber), but my WAG would be that the rice has gooified and stuck to the blades/grinder wheel/whatever the heck is in there, thus forming a water-tight barrier.

When it spins, the seal is broken and water can flow. I've seen similar things happen. But I don't know for sure.

One thing on the snake issue: spring for the drill powered one if you can. If not, be prepared to put some muscle behind it. I had to pay for a plumber because I didn't realize how much effort you need to put into it and didn't snake far enough. Turns out I could have saved myself a hundred, easy. Dammit.
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  #7  
Old 09-30-2007, 07:41 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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You can dump a box of baking soda down the drain. Throw in a bottle of vineagar fun foaming action! followed by some boiling water.

That is my only offering and it works really well with grease and smells.



Your last mistake is your best teacher.
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  #8  
Old 09-30-2007, 08:11 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glory
Thanks for the suggestions - are you recommending running the snake where the pipe goes into the wall?

Can anyone explain why the sink happily drains while the garbage disposal is running - that is the biggest mystery to me!
The snake would be used on the drain going into the wall. I'm assuming you've made an attempt to clean out the unit itself. If the unit itself is the problem then ice cubes would be a quick way of de-ricing it.


I'm amazed at how many years have passed before someone decided that plumbing elbow's don't have to be at sharp angles. When I replaced all the drains I used long radius bends at every turn. I use to have to chase my bathroom sink drain a couple of times a year because of 2 hard bends. Hand powered snakes are a pain if you have to run them out 10-15 feet.

By the way, you are not the only person who didn't know this (I didn't). Your post will serve as a useful lesson for others. I googled "rice" and "garbage disposal". Found a lot of neat stuff. Some with pictures.. Please ignore the amonia and bleach suggestion as this is dangerous.
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  #9  
Old 09-30-2007, 09:27 PM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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I second the ice cubes. Just keep running the disposer and feeding ice cubes down it (with the water running) until it unclogs. Should take less than a week...
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  #10  
Old 09-30-2007, 09:57 PM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff
I second the ice cubes. Just keep running the disposer and feeding ice cubes down it (with the water running) until it unclogs. Should take less than a week...
A week of standing there continually putting ice cubes down your disposal?! Man, I can't even manage to fill my ice cube trays once a MONTH....
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  #11  
Old 10-01-2007, 08:34 AM
USCDiver USCDiver is online now
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I had this exact issue approximately 3 weeks ago. I thought my garbage disposal motor was burned out because it wouldn't even turn. I called a plumber guy and he did exactly what the dude in that video that Magiver linked did. And now it works fine. So $75 later I could have done it myself.

So to reiterate, you have to reverse the blades in the disposal to loosen whatever is clogging it up. This means using an Allen wrench (looks like 1/4" maybe) on the bottom of the disposal unit. Watch that video before calling a plumber or snaking your drain.

ETA: This is the video from Magiver that I'm talking about

Last edited by USCDiver; 10-01-2007 at 08:35 AM..
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  #12  
Old 10-01-2007, 06:00 PM
Glory Glory is offline
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Thanks to everyone for all their help. A plumber came by today to assist - it cost about 200.00 to get it all fixed - he did use a snake. The clog was farther down the line (past the pipes under the sink), the disposal itself wasn't clogged.

Things I learned about garbage disposals:
  • Disposals don't actually have blades, they have hammers that crush the waste into smaller pieces
  • Don't ever put fibrous/stringy plant materials into the disposal (like corn husks, artichoke leaves, spinach) - they can't be crushed and just end up getting wrapped around the disposal mechanisms
  • Disposals have a small, red, reset button on the very bottom
  • Don't put starchy material into the disposal (rice, pasta, potato peels) since it seriously clog the drains
  • It doesn't matter how powerful the disposal is, even finely ground up waste material can still clog the drains farther down the line

Last edited by Glory; 10-01-2007 at 06:00 PM..
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