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The holiday season is finally here. That means people come over to the house, cook, eat, drink, and of course argue. At the end of the night, there’s this big pile of dishes sitting in the kitchen. Chances are, a lot of food will end up in the garbage disposal, which somehow always finds a way to jam! We have Nick Taylor, Poplar Homes’ Director of Maintenance Operations, to walk us through how to fix your garbage disposal by yourself.

Step 1: Check the breaker panel

Once you’ve established that the garbage disposal is jammed, check the breaker panel. Make sure that all the breakers are in fact on and haven’t been tripped. Flip the switch that says “garbage disposal” or “kitchen” and test your disposal again. You’ll also want to check your GFI outlet which has a “test” and “reset button”. Reset the GFI outlet after the breaker panel. The disposal might have tripped the GFI and therefore affect all the other outlets wired to it.


Step 2: Unjam blades

There should be a hex key slot located on the bottom of the garbage disposal. You can get a single allen wrench or hex key for about a dollar at any hardware store. Put the hex key in the slot underneath the disposal and turn the key back and forth to free the blades of any debris. Once you have the blades free you’d then want to plug it back in.

Before working with the blades, be sure to unplug the disposal from power.


Step 3: Reset disposal

Now, all of the debris should be cleared from the disposal. The last step is to press the reset button and plug the disposal back into the outlet. Test your garbage disposal by turning it on and running some water down the sink. After trying to reset it, if you still have an issue whether it’s a leak or that it’s just not performing, then you’re likely going to have to replace it.

In the future, check your garbage disposal before you have a holiday dinner just to make sure it’s working properly. Cleaning it ahead of time is never a bad idea in case a relative leaves a little too much food in the sink!

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