A kitchen sink's grinder, or garbage disposal, provides a convenient way of disposing of food waste, but the grinder is not indestructible and should be treated with care. Certain types of debris will stop a grinder's blades dead in its tracks, but you can restore the grinder to working order with the right tools and knowledge.
Stop Using the Grinder
Once you have noticed the grinder is no longer moving, you need to shut off the unit immediately. A humming sound can indicate the grinder's blades have stopped turning. Keeping a garbage disposal on as you look for a cause can burn out the grinder's motor, leaving you with an even bigger problem. After you have turned off the grinder, go to your home's electrical panel and turn off the power to the grinder, saving you from the risk of electrocution or the grinder turning back on when you are working on it.
Many garbage disposals come with a hex wrench, which is designed to help the disposal unclog when the blades stop turning. If your disposal did not come with such a wrench, check the underside of the disposal anyway to see if it has a hole that will accommodate a hex wrench. If you see such a hole, go to your local home improvement store to find a hex wrench that will fit into the hole. Once you have the wrench in the hole, turn it left and right until the obstruction comes out of the disposal's blades. You will know once the obstruction comes free because turning the wrench will become instantly easier. If the grinder does not have a hole in the bottom, use a broom's handle to turn the blades, since the wood will not damage the grinder. Remove the freed obstruction, using needle-nose pliers or tongs, since the blades can cut your fingers.
Certain objects should never be put down a disposal. Obvious examples of objects that should not go into a disposal include silverware, glass bottles and rubber, since these objects will gum up the disposal and possibly damage it. Even though the disposal may seem able to handle any type of food, you must never put bones down the drain, since they may break apart but also jam the blades. Avoid pouring grease down the drain, as well as large chunks of meat or fibrous foods such as potatoes and carrots.
Unclogging the Pipe
When a disposal stops dead in its tracks, a likely result will be the drainpipe clogging as well, since the disposal was not able to chop up food debris as it normally would. The risk of the drainpipe clogging rises if you were feeding carrots, potatoes or a similar food down the drain, since they can easily stick to the walls of the drain pipe. A plunger will take care of some clogs. If plunging the sink doesn't work, you will need to disassemble the sink's drainpipes and clean out the clog manually.
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