How to Unclog an Insinkerator

Insinkerator is one of the most popular garbage disposal brands, and there's a good reason. According to Funding Universe, John Hammes, the founder of the company, was also the person who invented garbage disposals. Throughout the years, the company has offered several models. Some of the ones you currently see on store shelves are the heavy-duty Evolution Excel, the multi-purpose Contractor 333 and the compact Badger 5.

Stainless kitchen sink with food waste disposal in modern home
credit: Mariakray/iStock/GettyImages
If you have a clogged disposal, it often prevents water from draining and the support advice is to use a plunger to clear the clog.

When your Badger Insinkerator is clogged, or your Evolution Excel won't spin, the company has your back with their simple but effective Insinkerator wrench, which fits into a hex slot on the bottom of the canister. This device gives you an easy way to spin the rotor to free up debris that has gotten caught between the rotor and the shredder ring without having to reach inside the disposal itself. The key is an invaluable tool for busting Insinkerator clogs, and if you don't have one, a standard 1/4-inch hex wrench will do.

Standing Water? Try a Plunger

If you're like most people, you probably don't have the Insinkerator repair manual that came with your garbage disposal, but you don't need it because you can find most of the information you need on the Insinkerator Support page online. If you have a clogged disposal, it often prevents water from draining and the support advice is to use a plunger to clear the clog.

Let the sink fill with about 4 inches of water, then place a sink plunger over the drain opening and pump down and pull the plunger up with as much force as you can muster. This action pulls lodged debris out of the gap between the rotor and shredder ring. Once water starts draining, turn on the faucet and the garbage disposal and the disposal will do the rest.

More Garbage Disposal Problems and Solutions

When debris is hopelessly caught in the shredder ring gap, the rotor can't spin and an internal breaker shuts off the motor to prevent it from burning out. This situation calls for the Insinkerator wrench.

Go into the kitchen sink cabinet and fit the wrench into the slot on the garbage disposal canister. Use the wrench to spin the rotor back and forth to dislodge the debris. When the rotor spins freely, push the red reset button, turn on the faucet and then run the garbage disposal.

Sometimes the clog isn't in the garbage disposal but the P-trap or drain line instead. When this happens, the best solution is to disassemble the P-trap and clean it, then use an auger if it's necessary to clean the waste line beyond the trap. Physically cleaning the pipes may be messy, but it's safer and more effective than putting drain cleaner into the garbage disposal, which is something you should never do.

Maintaining Your Insinkerator

Garbage disposals have metal parts, and metal rusts. Moreover, hard water deposits can collect on stationary internal parts, such as the canister and rim. Regular treatment with a product such as CLR garbage disposal cleaner can keep rust and scale at bay, but you can also do the job with household cleaners.

To make a cleanser with foaming action like CLR, pour about 1/4 cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal and follow it with a quart of a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and cold water. The foam dislodges debris, disinfects and deodorizes. When the foaming stops, you can finish the cleaning job by pouring in boiling water, letting it sit for a few minutes and running the garbage disposal under a steady stream of cold water from the tap.


Chris Deziel

Chris Deziel

Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.