Apple cores, vegetable peels, leftover dinner – a good garbage disposal can handle nearly any food you throw at it. This isn't just convenient, but it can help you reduce the amount of trash you create and how much you have to pay to dispose of it.
The only thing that can stop this useful appliance from grinding up your food waste is a blockage. This can shut down your disposal and even lead to backflow into your sink. However, as Chief Operations Officer Doug Cornwell explained in a "60 Second Fix" video, if this happens, there's no need to worry – it's a repair you can do yourself.
Use your wrench
If your garbage disposal jams or shuts off, never put yourself in harm's way by sticking your hand or an implement you're holding into the top of the disposal. The smart thing to do is approach it from under the sink.
Look at the underside of your disposal and identify a small socket in the center of the circle. This will let you turn the blades. Use the Allen or hex wrench that came with your disposal to turn this socket. If you don't have the wrench, find one that fits the socket.
You may encounter resistance when turning the blades because of the jam, so just turn the other direction. Turn two full rotations to ensure that the blades are free and then try turning in the other direction. This should free the blades and allow them to move normally again.
Try the circuit break
When the disposal jams, it may also shut off its power. Once you fix the jam, turn the power back on by pressing the disposal's circuit breaker, which is also located under the sink. It's a small red button that can be pushed to restore power to the appliance.
As Cornwell explained, it can be that easy and safe to fix a jam in your garbage disposal.
"Always run your disposal with cold water."
Keep your disposal in top shape
Avoid jamming your garbage disposal in the first place by not putting certain foods down the drain. You shouldn't place pasta, rice, egg shells, bones, corn husk, fat, grease, onion skin or fruit pits in your disposal. These can cause a temporary jam or worse by expanding, wrapping around the blades, or building up in your disposal and pipes.
To maintain a well-functioning garbage disposal, you should always use it with cold water running. People also often run the disposal with lemons, salt, ice, or baking soda and vinegar to keep the blades and disposal clean internally without using any chemicals.
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