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How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal System

July 13, 2022
How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal System

A blocked garbage disposal unit can be frustrating, as it doesn’t let you perform kitchen and dishwashing duties like usual.

Fortunately, it’s simple to repair using tools in your home. However, if the blockage is bad, you can always get a plumber to fix your garbage disposal quickly and safely.

Materials and Tools You’ll Need

Here are the materials and tools you will need to unclog your garbage disposal drain:

  • Paper towels or rags
  • Wire (plastic-coated, metal, or steel)
  • Brush or scrub pad
  • Bucket
  • Water pump pliers
  • Drain snake (for tough clogs)

How to Unclog Your Garbage Disposal

Let’s now see the DIY steps to unclog your garbage disposal unit:

1) Detach the P-Trap

Detach the P-Trap

First, place a bucket underneath the disposal’s P-trap. There’s bound to be water spills and food waste to come out of this trap.

For those that aren’t sure what a P-trap is, it’s the curved pipe connected to the water disposal unit.

Now, use your water pump pliers to loosen and remove the slip nut from the drain trap. The excess water and food scrap should be dumped into the bucket.

And then, if there are accidental spills, clean yourself, the plumbing, and the floor using a paper towel or rag.

2) Clean the trap

Clean the trap

As you clean the trap part, you may discover that it’s clogged with waste in the turning or curved spots.

You can then use your scrub pad to remove the grease, oil, or grime. If they can’t be reached, though, you can create a hooked wire to reach deep and retrieve the blockage.

3) Inspect the trap arm

Inspect the trap arm

If the P-trap is free of obstruction, try inspecting the trap arm which can also be clogged. The trap arm is the specific part situated between the P-trap and vertical piping.

You can also disconnect the trap arm by rotating the slip nut on the side of the vertical branch drain using the pliers. Once done, check if it is clogged by putting a brush or wire into it and proceed to clean it.

4) Clear the vertical branch drain (if required)

Clear the vertical branch drain (if required)

The last two steps above should’ve done the trick to unblock your disposal unit. In case it doesn’t, the clog must be in the pipe onto which the trap arm is set.

This vertical pipe can run deep and have bendy turns, so you’ll need a drain snake or auger to unclog it.

Note that the photo above shows only how you can use a drain snake or auger. But it’s not where you have to use it.

To start, re-attach the drain arm so that the drain snake won’t battle gravity. Then, feed the snake into the trap arm, rotate the drum to maneuver it through the pipe’s straight and bent paths until you reach the blocker, and then either push it down or fish it out from the drain.

5) Reassemble the drain

Reassemble the drain

After that, put back the parts in place like before. Connect the P-trap to each of its sides to the adjacent pipe by tightening the nut either by hand or water pump pliers.

But be careful not to overtighten it, as doing this can damage the pipe spiral threads and nuts. This can lead to repair expenses that would have been otherwise unnecessary.

6) Flush the drain

Flush the drain

You’re almost done, but be sure to flush out the drain in your garbage disposal unit to rid it of any dirt, debris, or clogged particles.

To take it up a step, fill the sink with warm water, put the water stopper on it, and then quickly let go. This allows the water to flow through the drain, making your garbage disposal ready for use once again.

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