Glass down the garbage disposal?
October 17, 2007 6:34 PM   Subscribe

We broke a glass in the kitchen sink and cleaned it up as best as we could, but now the garbage disposal is jammed. Do we have to call a plumber?

My fearless husband NortonDC pulled out the biggest pieces of glass with kitchen tongs, but when we turned the disposal on to test it it made kind of a loudish grinding noise. We only ran it about 5-10 seconds, and then when we tried it again it wouldn't run at all.

Oh AskMe, do we need to call a plumber to fix it? Would it help to run the water for a while and hope it loosens things up? Or is it bad to run the water and wash glass down our plumbing? We don't have a wet vac, but would it make sense to invest in one instead of calling a plumber?

Thanks for your help!
posted by onlyconnect to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There is a simple allen wrench type tool you should have rec'd with your garbage disposal to loosen the blades and get the thing to run when it jams. If you didn't get one, any hardware store will have one for a couple of bucks. You click the red reset button on the bottom of your garbage disposal then insert the wrench in the small opening on the bottom and jiggle it around a few times to loosen the blades. You can fix this yourself without calling a plumber.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:38 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's a video that may help.
posted by iconomy at 6:40 PM on October 17, 2007

What 45moore45 said.
posted by misha at 6:50 PM on October 17, 2007

Best answer: (NortonDC is so cool)

You can also stick a broomstick into the thing and crank it around. That works better than those wimpy allen wrenches. It abrades the end of the broom stick a bit but you get much more torque this way. Our plumber used to show up with a sawed off broomstick until we go wise and did it ourselves for far less $$$.
posted by caddis at 7:06 PM on October 17, 2007

Best answer: Now after you've loosened the blades back up, you need to make sure the glass is all out, just trying to run it again will probably just jam it up again. Try a a shop vac, or maybe a nice wad of duct tape to pull the pieces out with. Cut the power to the disposal before you go reaching in there, of course. As for access, the rubber 'trap' at the drain should pop out so you can see in much better.
posted by pupdog at 7:06 PM on October 17, 2007

Stick a broom handle in there, if you don't have the tool, and turn it so the blades/grinders get to moving a little. Say a little pray, and turn it back on.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:17 PM on October 17, 2007

Look for a reset button. Down somewhere on the motor. Sounds simple but a very expensive plumber showed me this trick. See if you have one and try that before anything else. Good Luck!!
posted by pearlybob at 7:31 PM on October 17, 2007

Yes, if you don't hear a hum when you turn it on, you need the reset button. If you hear a hum but it does not turn then you need to force it. Once you get it turning, you don't really need to worry about the glass as it will get ground up and washed down the pipes, just make sure you are running lots of water.
posted by caddis at 7:43 PM on October 17, 2007

Call me crazy.. but the times I've had that happen (damn shot glasses).. I always just removed the garbage disposal... took it apart.. turned it upside down and worked the blades back and forth till all the glass came out. Then put it all back together and remounted it. Its not rocket science. (assuming its a standard disposal and not some wacky permanently mounted wierdo brand)
posted by jmnugent at 7:51 PM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: Holy crap, thanks AskMe! It totally worked, and you have saved us the money and time off from work for a plumber!

First, we looked for the red button, and we had one, but NortonDC realized that the disposal was still humming so we didn't need to push it. (But we know we have a red button for the future.)

Then, we tried to turn the blades with an allen wrench below. They were actually really hard to turn -- it would hardly move and then it might move 1/4 of an inch, and then it would hardly move again. So we got out the broom and poked at the blades, but it was really hard to see and we could not get the rubber thingie out of the way.

So we figured that there might have still been a whole bunch of glass down there that was getting in the way. We tried some duct tape first but it was wet down there and didn't pick anything up. So we put on some gardening gloves and reached down in there and pulled out about a dozen pieces of glass. And now it totally works again!!! So thank you so much, AskMe!!! I am totally amazed and grateful that we were able to accomplish our very own home repair! You rock!
posted by onlyconnect at 8:04 PM on October 17, 2007

posted by caddis at 8:32 PM on October 17, 2007

For future reference, garbage disposals actually tend to be fairly easy and inexpensive to replace with a minimum of tools. I've replaced a couple of them, and it never took too long. And I'm someone who sucks at doing anything plumbing related.
posted by azpenguin at 5:53 AM on October 18, 2007

Also for future reference, garbage disposals tend to be pretty easy to get loose. In a case like this where there's stuff stuck in it - like, say, when your idiot roommate who likes to fling pennies around manages to get one in the sink (I'm looking at you, Jason) - it's helpful to disconnect the thing and invert it so you can shake the stuff loose.

The drain pipe (and potentially the dishwasher drain) is pretty obvious how its connected. If you're fortunate it's plastic and you don't need a proper pipe wrench. The disposal itself is connected to the sink (in every one I have ever seen) with a metal collar that will allow you to disconnect the disposal from the sink with about a 1/4 turn.

You'll find getting random crap out to be about 1000 times easier when you're not peering down a hole.
posted by phearlez at 2:27 PM on October 18, 2007

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