Garbage Disposal Issues
January 27, 2004 6:24 AM   Subscribe

Any tips for unclogging a slow-draining garbage disposal? I think that broccoli cheddar soup is the culprit. I've tried Kitchen Drano to no avail. Help me, Ask MetaFilter!
posted by UKnowForKids to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Try Alka-Seltzer and Vinegar.
posted by hama7 at 6:39 AM on January 27, 2004

Bicarbonate of soda works fine on drains. And it's cheap. Just pour the crystals in and follow up with boiling water. According to my doctor you can use it to clean wax out of your ears too. Though she didn't say whether or not to use boiling water. I think I'll stick with the olive oil.
posted by squealy at 7:32 AM on January 27, 2004

off-topic, but: squealy, olive oil? To clean your ears out? How does that work??
posted by widdershins at 8:30 AM on January 27, 2004

I use baking soda and white wine vinegar instead of harsher chemicals. Works well for the bathroom sink, but I haven't tried it in the kitchen sink, not with a garbage disposal.
posted by terrapin at 9:51 AM on January 27, 2004

Cleaning garbage disposals

I have also seen the suggestion that you make vinegar ice cubes and use them to clean the disposal.
posted by TedW at 10:13 AM on January 27, 2004

Garbage disposals are a big scam. Our plumber said that they are the biggest source of roto rooter type calls, because everyone thinks you can just dump your leftovers down the drain.

I haven't had much luck with any of the chemical things out there. They might unclog drains for a bit, but then they clog up again quickly. In my experience, it's likely that the clog is in the pipe *after* the disposal.

Two things that I suggest:
1) Buy a little manual snake type thing at your local hardware store, a pipe wrench, and some teflon tape. You can just unscrew the nut holding the pipe out of the disposal, and just run that snake guy down through the pipes there. No chemicals and it really works! Oh, and be sure to use the teflon tape to wrap the threads of the pipe before you reconnect it.

2) My neighbor, who is a contractor swears by these high pressure water device things. It just basically a flexible hose that kind of balloons out to make a seal of sorts, and then it forces a high intensity stream of water to come out the end. It apparently just wipes out those obstructions. I've seen them in hardware stores.
posted by jasper411 at 10:18 AM on January 27, 2004

[OT] Dunno widdershins. I'm due to have my ears syringed and the doctor suggested it. She said it was just as effective as any stuff you can buy at the chemists and you can use it indefinitely to soften earwax. She suggested using the bottle and dropper from the earwax softener I bought at the chemists and just filling it with olive oil. Apply a few drops overnight and plug your ears (gently) with cotton wool. [/OT]
posted by squealy at 11:36 AM on January 27, 2004 [1 favorite]

This is going to sound patronizing, but it really isn't: have you tried taking apart the pipes beneath the sink to see if the t-joint is clogged? I'm assuming that the disposal spins freely, but water isn't draining and that you probably have a mess of crap in the disposal.

Chances are that if you have a double-basin sink, and the basin that doesn't connect to the garbage disposal drains without difficulty, that the area where the garbage disposal flows into the t-joint is clogged something fierce. If you have PVC pipes, you may be able to take care of this with just your hands, sans tools.

Because you already used Draino (chemicals like this are the devil, since they eat pipes and skin), wear latex gloves while doing the following:

Start taking apart the pipes (being sure to remember which pipe goes to what, and that you have a bucket beneath to catch the resulting messiness), and remove the t-joint. Usually in double-basin sinks, the end of the t-joint that connects to the garbage-disposal has a little ramp inside that diverts the flow downwards (this is so the garbage disposal flow doesn't shoot up the other basin when you have it on). Because there is a little ramp, the opening is much narrower than the pipe's diameter, so when you put too much stuff in the disposal, it clogs up the t-joint. Just remove the crap from the t-joint and the pipe that flows into it with your finger, replace all the pipes, remove as much of the crud inside the disposal as you can (UNPLUG THE DISPOSAL FIRST!), then run the water and the disposal again. You should be fine.
posted by Avogadro at 11:58 AM on January 27, 2004

What Avogadro said, although I've been able to fix things without completely dissembling the pipes. I've had this happen a couple times, and what fixed it was unscrewing a little thing on the bottom of the U-Bend, and letting the water flow out into a bucket. Then I replaced the valve, and plunged the sink. If you have a double basin sink, someone will have to hold something over the opening of the other sink (a wet rag or a stopper, something to make it airtight), or plunging won't work. This always fixed it for me.
posted by Shoeburyness at 5:27 PM on January 27, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the varying approaches - I'll try them in increasing order of perceived difficulty. If all else fails, I'll have the apartment handyman come and fix it for me.
posted by UKnowForKids at 10:08 PM on January 27, 2004

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