How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

Posted on: December 8, 2014

When you have family over in Tampa during the holidays, needing plumbing repairs is one of the worst home maintenance problems to have.  And about the only thing worse than a toilet that won’t unclog, is a blocked garbage disposal.  After a holiday meal with family, a clogged sink can leave you with so many dirty dishes and nowhere to wash them.  But if you’re reading this, you probably already know that.

So what can you do to try and unclog a garbage disposal?  Here are some ways you can safely try to clear the blockage before calling a Tampa professional for serious plumbing repair.

Step 1: Determine the Cause of the Clog

Ensure that the disposal is turned off and, if possible, use a flashlight to determine the cause of the clog.  If there is a solid object, or any other non-disposable item that is stuck, you will need to contact a professional in the Tampa area for plumbing repairs.  If the clog has grown worse over time then it is most likely a blockage caused by too much food or grease and not enough water.

Step 2: Unclog the Garbage Disposal plumbingrepair

When faced with a clogged disposal, you never want to use commercial chemical agents as they can eat away at any plastic parts.  Try these methods instead:

  • Plunger:  This may come as a surprise to some, but the standard cup plunger is really designed for sinks, not toilets (the one for toilets is called a flange plunger and is shaped differently).  If the sink will not drain at all, and is full of water, center the plunger over the drain opening and use short, quick plunges to attempt to force the clog free.
  • Vinegar & Baking Soda:  Yes, that’s right, the old middle school volcano science fair project, vinegar and baking soda, is a gentle and environmentally friendly plumbing repair technique too!  If at all possible, first try to remove any standing water in the sink.  Next sprinkle ½ cup of baking soda into the drain followed up with 1 cup of regular white vinegar.  Allow it to foam for at least 5 minutes before rinsing with very hot water as outlined below.
  • Boiling water: Carefully pour a pot of boiling water into the drain, being careful not to splash any on yourself or any spectators.  This will help to break up any grease or fat that might be causing the clog.  If this fails to fix the issue, make sure that the water in the sink cools to a safe temperature before trying anything else.

If these methods don’t remove the blockage, you should call a Tampa plumber for repairs.  Attempting any more invasive methods can cause damage to the disposal.

Step 3: Future Maintenance and Care

After unclogging the unit, you can avoid future plumbing repairs in your Tampa kitchen with some simple maintenance:

Clean it by grinding ice cubes and rock salt through it while it is running.  The coarse texture can break free stuck food and grease, without damaging the unit.

Only place biodegradable foods into the garbage disposal, and avoid pouring grease or animal fat down the drain as these can solidify and cause a blockage.

To give your disposal a fresh scent, instead of throwing away your citrus peels you can drop them in the garbage disposal.

Still need help? Contact Midway Services in Tampa today!


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