For those who have a garbage disposal in their kitchen, you know the magic of grinding food waste and how amazing these machines are. Until they’re not, that is. If your disposal becomes jammed your sink can fill up with dirty water while the offending food waste sits at the bottom of the disposal. What is a homeowner to do? Luckily, the answer could be something you have lying around the house.
If you're in the market for a garbage disposal (maybe your current one is beyond repair), checkout our best garbage disposal roundup.
One Size Fits Most
In most cases a 1⁄4 inch allen wrench will easily free the clogged waste and get your disposal back to working properly. This is good news because most homes have these little handy wrenches around and you don’t actually need a special tool to rid you disposal of the offending clump of food waste.
Other Kinds of Wrenches
In addition to allen wrenches, there are basically two other options out there to take care of a clogged disposal.
1. Product specific wrenches that fit disposal brand or model
Some examples are the Jam-Buster and the GIDDS wrench, both by InSinkErator made for two different InSinkErator disposals.
2. A garbage disposal wrench tool
A garbage disposal wrench is a tool used for the sole purpose of freeing food waste stuck in a disposal. These wrenches work differently from an allen wrench or a product specific wrench and so they vary in size. These wrenches come in sizes ranging from 11 1⁄2 inches to 26 inches and the length you need depends on the depth of your disposal.
How They Work
Once you have decided which type of wrench you prefer, (a disposal wrench or an Allen wrench/product specific wrench), the only thing left is to actually get that jammed food waste freed and your disposal back to working as it should. A 1⁄4 inch Allen wrench will fit into the hex hole on the underside of the disposal and can then be cranked from side to side until the food becomes dislodged.
You will know that the wrench has freed the waste when you can easily turn the wrench in a circle in one direction. Don’t worry about giving it some “elbow grease” as they say, and cranking hard on the wrench. The shaft that reaches into the inside of your disposal can handle a lot of force which may be necessary to free the jammed waste. The wrenches made to fit a particular model of garbage disposal work the same way as an allen wrench does. The difference between these and an allen wrench is the size of the tip.
As I mentioned before, using an actual garbage disposal wrench is a little bit different. These long handled tools reach into the disposal and fit between the grinding mechanism. As you turn the wrench the food is freed from the disposal. At that point you can reach in with tongs and remove the clogged material. For safety reasons we recommend not using your hand to reach into a disposal unless the unit is unplugged.
Most of the time a 1⁄4 inch allen wrench is all you need to take care of a clogged garbage disposal. If you prefer, there are products made specifically for dealing with a jammed disposal or a special wrench made for your particular brand and model of garbage disposal. Hopefully this helps turn those annoying clogged disposal situations into a minor inconvenience so your disposal can go back to working it’s magic of grinding up food waste and helping you obliterate those kitchen messes.
Additional Garbage Disposal Resources
Molly is a mom of two, DIY enthusiast, real estate investor, and a fan of modern kitchen decor.
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