The Garbage Disposal Secret Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Garbage disposals are scary machines, especially from the vantage point of the average user. You’re looking from above at a hole, inside which contains a spinning machine capable of lopping off your fingers. Naturally, most of us like to play it safe around garbage disposals.

But what do you do when it jams up?

It happens every now and then. You flip the switch, and you hear the motor activate, but the blades aren’t spinning. It’s like when you grab a blade on a ceiling fan, except the stakes are higher. What many of us do in that situation is call a plumber. “Garbage disposal’s jammed,” you tell him, and so he makes a service call ($$), crawls underneath your sink, fiddles around for a few minutes, and, voila! You’ve got a working garbage disposal again ($$). And that is why you call the experts, right?

Well, here’s the secret:

On the bottom of your garbage disposal is a nut that you can turn with a wrench. It is attached to the “drive shaft” of the garbage disposal. When your plumber is down there “fixing” your garbage disposal, all he’s doing is giving that nut a turn or two. He isn’t taking anything apart. It’s as simple as opening a jar of peanut butter.

Usually, the only problem is that you have something stick between the blades and the walls of the grinder, and the reason it’s not spinning is that those little electric motors aren’t very powerful. A twist of your more-powerful arm will loosen it right up.

There, we just saved you $100.