How To Free a Stuck Garbage Disposal.

Our garbage disposal jams at least three or four times a month...partially because my wife tries to overextend it, and partially because it sucks. So last time, I ask the maintance man to show me how to do fix it so they wouldn't have to come so often. He refused, citing some legal ramifications. So I told him no thanks, and that I'd just figure it out myself.

So, I did.

How To Free a Stuck Garbage Disposal.
    Kitchen Tongs
    1/4” Allen wrench (hex key)

 1. First, use the flashlight to peer inside the disposal, and see if there are any large objects  that might be lodged.
2. If unsuccessful, turn off the power to your kitchen at the fuse box. Slide under the disposal, and locate the hole in the center of the underside of the disposal. Insert a 1/4” Allen wrench into the hole, and rotate it in both directions. It will become unstuck, and eventually, you’ll be able to turn it in both directions.

3. Now, use the flashlight and tongs to remove the dislodged yuckiness and dispose.
4. Turn the power back on, and press the reset button on the bottom of the disposal, if you have one.
5. Turn on the water to flush, and then run the disposal for 5-10 seconds.

** Remember, most anything that can be disposed can also be composted.

Now, do a round of this and rid yourself of the leftover scent.


[In-sink-Erator photo from TheRealNickJones.com]

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Anonymous on Dec 31, 2013:

Super! Worked like a charm!

M on Nov 05, 2013:

Thank you!  Kitchen Aid wanted to charge me $12 + $7.95 shipping for the "Jam Breaker Wrench" and it would take 5 days to receive.  I specifically asked Kitchen Aid and the plumber whose contact info was on the disposal if I could use allen wrench.  Both said that I could try an allen but they recommended the tool!!!  The plumber actually said that after 13 years the disposal likely needed to be replaced and gave me an estimate of $300-450 for unit and installation.   What a rip-off; don't you think?

Your instructions and photos helped me right away.  It's working just fine. 

By the way, I didn't go to circuit breaker - I just unplugged the unit. 

Anonymous on Aug 06, 2013:

Thank you so much.  I knew there was a release somewhere, but I couldn't figure out where.  One minute and a half after reading your post...bam disposal is free again.

chyron on Jul 01, 2013:

Thanks a ton. This really helped me out.

Mamanita05n87 on Mar 07, 2013:

Thank you so much! You saved me a ton of $. I did not turn off the electric/kitchen breaker. Should I still hit the reset?

Anonymous on Feb 23, 2013:

You the man! This worked perfectly! I did run into one problem though. I plugged it into a hot outlet so the disposal kept on running. After plugging it into the other outlet it worked like a charm (operator error). Saved me some dough for sure. Thanks again!!!

Anonymous on Jan 09, 2013:

Thank you so much!  I followed the directions you gave and found a penny lodged against the side of my disposal.  I was able to get it out and my disposal is great again.  You saved me a lot of money!

san antonio restoration contractors on Jun 28, 2012:

Super suggestions!! Garbage disposal troubles can also cause dishwashers to stop working. Odd, isn't it?

does bleach kill mold on Jun 18, 2012:

I think this is a very knowledgeable article. Liked it very much!! Many Thanks!!

Chris Gardner on May 20, 2010:

@Anonymous - no surprise about the code violation. That apartment sucked. Thankfully, I'm long gone. :)

Anonymous on May 20, 2010:

don't look now but your picture showing the bottom of the disposal shows an electrical code violation.

Romex ran directly into the bottom of the disposal without a connector.  

Anonymous on May 09, 2009:

Great Tip! In restaraunts they usually have a pry bar to get it un stuck.. didn't work at home though, but one twist of that allen nut and PRESTO! thx a ton, my wifey has a bad habit of forgetting about the washclothes =/ this was the first time i didn't get it all out,,, just a little piece of material biding up the sink.. she'll be so happy in the morning.. thx a ton

stickmop on Aug 25, 2007:

I compost everything and don't have this problem anymore, but if your disposal gets stuck, take a stick (like a broomstick) and cram it in the disposal (power off, please). Twist it around and often that will break free the strikers in the interior of the disposal where the food particles or bone has wedged them against the side of the unit. Much easier than crawling around under the sink trying to get the hex key in the little hole on the bottom of the unit and turning it.

Caya123 on Jul 26, 2007:

I never understand why they don't make garbage disposals that actually dispose of garbage. Why don't they just put a Blendtec under the sink, and route the resultant mush out? That's what I really want. I want to stuff chicken bones, and every single food-related item I can think of, down my disposal. I don't need this wimpy stuff. We don't have a disposal, and I wouldn't bother either. I'd just compost. (Although I don't bother with compost either, because I can't garden thanks to our 50-ft trees shading everything.)

tmgeorgo on Jul 26, 2007:

I got tired of our disposal and took it out.  I can honestly say that we don't miss it a single bit either.  All of the vegetable peelings go into the compost bin and we have a lot more room under the sink to store things.

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