A jammed garbage disposal can be an unwelcome surprise in your kitchen, but don’t panic—there are several troubleshooting steps you can take before deciding to call a plumber. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some practical solutions to get your disposal back up and running.

Common Issues and Simple Fixes

person putting potato peelings down garbage disposal in kitchen sink

1. Press the Reset Button

One of the simplest fixes you can try is pressing the reset button. Most modern garbage disposals come with a built-in reset feature to protect the motor. The reset button is usually located on the bottom of the disposal unit. If your disposal doesn’t start when you flip the switch, press this button and see if it resolves the issue.

2. Check the Circuit Breaker or Fuse Box

If pressing the reset button doesn’t work, another possible cause could be a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse. Head to your home’s electrical panel and check to see if the breaker associated with the kitchen appliances has tripped. If it has, reset it and try running the disposal again.

3. Clear Obstructions

If your garbage disposal is humming but not grinding, this usually indicates that something is caught between the grinding rings. Here’s how you can clear the obstruction:

Turn Off the Power

First and foremost, ensure that the electricity to the disposal is turned off. Unplug the unit or switch off the circuit breaker to avoid any accidents.

Remove the Obstruction

For InSinkErator brand disposals, an Allen wrench is typically supplied. Locate the hexagonal hole at the bottom center of the unit, insert the Allen wrench, and manually turn the disposal clockwise and counterclockwise to free up any objects trapped inside.

Check Inside the Disposal

If you think the obstruction hasn’t cleared, use a flashlight to take a close look inside the disposal unit. You can carefully remove any visible debris, but never use your hands. Opt for a pair of tongs or pliers to reach and remove the clog.

4. Test Your Disposal

Once you believe you have resolved the issue, remove the Allen wrench or any tools you used, restore the power supply, and test the disposal by turning it back on. Hopefully, it should now operate smoothly. If it still doesn’t work, it may be time to seek professional help.

When to Call a Professional

If none of these troubleshooting methods work, it’s wise to call a plumber. Professionals have specialized tools and expertise that can help resolve more complicated issues. At St Paul Pipeworks, our plumbers are experts in unjamming all brands and types of garbage disposals quickly and efficiently.

Further Reading

For more in-depth information on maintaining and troubleshooting your garbage disposal, be sure to check out our detailed blog posts:

How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal Like a Plumber

3 Factors Why Plumbers Use InSinkErator Garbage Disposals

By following these guidelines, you’ll be better prepared to tackle any minor issues that arise with your garbage disposal. And remember, if the problem grows beyond your capabilities, professional help is just a call away.

Plumbers in St. Paul and Minneapolis

At St Paul Pipeworks, we understand that a jammed garbage disposal can be an inconvenience in your busy schedule. That’s why our team is dedicated to providing fast and reliable service to get your kitchen back up and running as soon as possible.

For residents in the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area experiencing clogged garbage disposals or needing quality plumbing services, St Paul Pipeworks is your trusted partner. Our skilled plumbers, with their extensive experience and expertise, can handle everything from minor clogs to major plumbing issues, ensuring your home’s plumbing operates smoothly. 

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or for any emergency plumbing needs. 

In addition to garbage disposals, we also offer a wide range of plumbing services, including drain cleaning, water heater installations, and bathroom remodeling. Our experienced plumbers are always ready to assist you with any plumbing needs in the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area.

Give us a call today for all your plumbing needs!


Q: Is it safe to use my hands to clear a jammed garbage disposal?

A: No, never put your hand inside the disposal unit. Use tongs or pliers instead.

Q: How can I prevent future jams in my garbage disposal?

A: To avoid clogs and jams, be mindful of what you put down your disposal. Avoid hard foods like bones and fibrous items like onion peels. Running cold water while using the disposal can also help prevent buildup and clogs. Regular maintenance, such as grinding ice cubes and citrus peels, can also keep your disposal in good working condition.

Q: What type of garbage disposal should I choose?

A: There are various types of garbage disposals available on the market, each with its own advantages and features. It’s always best to consult with a professional plumber who can assess your needs and recommend the right disposal for you.

Q: How long does a garbage disposal typically last?

A: The lifespan of a garbage disposal depends on usage, maintenance, and the quality of the unit itself. On average, disposals can last anywhere from 8 to 15 years with proper care and usage.

Q: Can I install a garbage disposal myself?

A: Installing a garbage disposal requires knowledge of plumbing and electrical work. It’s best to leave this task to a professional plumber for safety and proper installation.

Yours Truly, 

Matthew Dettwiler 

Social Media Manager 

My Garbage Disposal Is Jammed: What Do I Do? ASK A PLUMBER