Garbage Disposals

Is there anything I can use to unclog a sink with a garbage disposal system? I don’t think I can use Drain-O, if I recall.


Never heard of a Drain-O veto. You could try a plunger, or simply remove the S bend* and clean that out. Still blocked? Try a snake**

  • Don’t forget the bucket!
    ** Plumbing snkke, not a rattler.

Depends where the clog is.

  1. If it’s between the sink draing and the disposal just reach your hand in there, with the disposal turned off at the breaker of course, and dig it out.

  2. If the clog is past the disposal just remove the S-joint and clean it out.

  3. If the clog in IN the disposal just run water through it with the disposal running until it clears.

  4. If the clog is past the S-joint you might need to rent a snake.

That’s where I think it is, out of elimination. None of the other pipes are clogged, and when I run the disposal, it just makes a whirlpool. (Would be kind of cool if it didn’t have all that food and stuff floating in it.) I’m just worried about burning out the motor. I’ve tried hot water, to melt any grease or butter that may have solidified.

If it turns out to be past the s-joint, would I be safe to just pour Drain-O down that pipe?

And if the disposal is so old that it doesn’t run very well - if it is what’s clogged, and it doesn’t run well enough to clean out the clog, then syphon the water out of the sink and disposal, and replace the unit. They’re too cheap to waste time cleaning or fixing 'em, and it only takes a couple hours to replace 'em. I suffered for months with a disposal that’d get bogged down on a single piece of macaroni (well, not that bad, but upon disassembly there was… stuff… built up on the parts which were supposed to spin) before finally spending the $40 and one evening’s time on a new one.

And on preview, it appears to be that yes, you need a new disposal. Hot water won’t do squat to the built-up stuff that’s slowing the thing down.

Dave- It’s only a year old, if that. Should I give the wife the what-for for putting tea bags in? I think I will just on principle…

Your disposal probably has a breaker to prevent burning out like this. To make sure check on the underside, there’s probably a small red button down there, it might even be labeled “Reset”.

I’ll agree with others that it sounds like your disposal is malfunctioning. It might be something stuck to in the inside, or under one of the blades. If you’re handy, you might try to take it out from unde rthe sink and take a look. One of my kids once threw a nickel in the sink, which promptly got stuck under one of the blades, and it was completely invisible until I took the disposal out.

First, I wouldn’t dump any drain opener into the disposer side. If you have a double sink and the non-disposer side drains, the problem is in the disposer or between the disposer and the trap. Unplug the disposer or shut off the C/B, and then disconnect the pipe between the disposer and the trap. The pipe should be attached to the disposer side with two screws that are slotted for a screwdriver and have a hex head for a wrench. Be careful not to damage the gasket so you can reuse it. On the trap side there should be a compression joint, and if it is plastic you should be able to undo it by hand. If it is metal, a pair of slip-joint pliers should work. Once you have the pipe out you will be able to see if the disposer is clogged or if the clog is in the pipe between the disposer and the trap. My guess is that it is clogged at the disposer opening, but the pipe also has a lot of crud in it.

Good luck.

Garbage Disposal FAQs.

A large number of residential and commercial drain openers claim to be safe for garbage disposal use, and my experience has been that they are typically safe for limited use only - that is, for one or two bad clogs. After that, you can start to see some leakage (this was a frequent issue at the fast-food place I worked at in college…), which requires essentially a new disposal.

Some disposals have a “breaker nut” on the bottom for attaching a small wrench in order to force the blades to turn and move the obstruction out.