What to Do When the Garbage Disposal Won’t Drain

All of a sudden, your garbage disposal in the kitchen sink will not drain or it is a slow drain and the sink is filled with water and food particles. Normally, you’d take the steps you know to unclog a drain. A branded sink de-clogger, a plunger, or a snake might work on a regular drain, but what about a drain with a garbage disposal in it? What plumbing repair do you reach out for?
Here are some tips:

  • If you turn on the disposal and there is no sound. Check the circuit breaker for the kitchen and see if it has tripped. If it hasn’t, locate the red reset button on the bottom of the disposal unit under your sink. If this does not restore the system, you should call Ben Franklin Plumbing and one of our technicians will evaluate the disposal and discuss repair or replace options with you.
  • If the disposal is spinning but not adequately draining. You can try to clean out the waste lines where a clog may have developed. Fill the drain with ice cubes or uncooked pasta and pour water over it and turn on the disposal. After the grinding stops, check and see if the drain has returned to normal operation. If it hasn’t, you can bet that you have a considerable clog in the plumbing line. It could be in several places including the drain line, the trap or other joints in the line.

We recommend having this looked at by an experienced Ben Franklin plumber who can quickly disassemble the several lines and locate the exact clog. If it is more than a clog or if the clog has cause damage to the disposal unit, our professional can provide you with your best options for repair.
Disposals can clog because build up food waste coats the waste line. One cause of this is not putting an adequate quantity of water down the disposal while it is processing the food waste. The water is needed to keep this relatively thick solution of water and food moving through the line and out into the main waste line to the sewer.

  • The disposal is not spinning but you can hear a humming from the motor. If you look under the sink at the disposal motor, there should be an Allen wrench attached on one of the sides. There will be a fitting for it in the bottom center. Turn off the disposal and turn the Allen wrench clockwise to see if the disposal motor frees up.

If you don’t have an Allen wrench, you can also use a wooden stick or spoon (ensure the disposal is turned off – this is vital) down through the sink to try and turn the disposal wheel. If the wheel now spins freely, you might have a bad motor that is unable to turn the wheel on its own. You should also examine the sink hole with a flashlight to see if there is anything visibly jamming the disposal wheel such as a spoon or fork.
Call us! Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in the San Francisco Area Can Help.
All of our services are performed to a high professional standard and your satisfaction is guaranteed. Our prices are straightforward with no hidden fees. We not only deliver expert plumbing solutions, we can also install a full range of plumbing products such as toilets, faucets, garbage disposals, pumps, showers and tubs and much more.