Why Is My Garbage Disposal Not Draining

Garbage Disposal Not Draining How to Fix This

Picture this: you have a problem with your garbage disposal not draining and you were in the middle of preparing a great family meal when all of a sudden, you notice that your sink is full of wastewater and it seems that your garbage disposal unit is the one to blame. At that moment, you begin to wonder how on earth could you fix the clog that has been causing the wastewater from not draining  while worrying about the dinner burning.

Thankfully, this article contains all you need to know about why your garbage disposal isn’t draining and how you can fix the issue yourself.

Garbage Disposal Not Draining

Why Is My Garbage Disposal Not Draining Water

There are several reasons why your garbage disposal unit isn’t draining wastewater. Well, the most probable cause why your garbage disposal not draining is clogging. A clogged garbage disposal unit will prevent all the water and waste from flowing down through the chamber of the unit and out into the disposer hole and into the sewer. Garbage disposal clogging is a big issue because it will cause the wastewater to sit on top of the clog and can stay even in your sink. And the longer that wastewater sits there, the more bacterial growth and the more the water will emit a foul odor.

Garbage Disposal Not Draining

How to Fix a Garbage Disposal Not Draining

If the issue with your garbage disposal not draining is a clog. The clog is most probably in the drainpipe and not in the garbage disposal unit itself. Either way, the best course of action is to fix it as soon as possible to prevent the clog from stinking up your whole kitchen and causing any further hassles. 

Garbage Disposal Not Draining

Here are the quick fixes you can do:

Start by turning OFF the garbage disposal through the fuse box or by unplugging it from the sink

Garbage Disposal Not Draining

Then, figure out the cause of the clog. Use a flashlight and take a peek at the drainpipes and you might see some leaks. 

Turn the impellers of the unit manually by using an Allen wrench. You can find a hole in the bottom center part of the unit. This hole is connected directly to the impellers.Garbage Disposal Not Draining

Fit your Allen wrench in the hole and rotate it back and forth until you feel the impellers loosen up. The reason for this is to stir the clog if there’s any that got stuck inside the shredder housing and to let it out into the drain. 

Then, reach down the drain using tongs or pliers. Be very careful when doing this. Pull out any big chunks of food that the impellers were not able to grind.

Afterward, turn the faucet on and fill the sink with a few inches of cold water then use a plunger to unclog any remaining debris. Make sure to use a new and clean plunger. Do not use the one for your toilet.

How To Tighten Garbage Disposal Blades

Lift the plunger and check if the water starts flowing. 

Then, pour one-fourth cup of baking soda and a cup of white vinegar into the garbage disposal unit. Having a bit of fizz and foam is normal and nothing to worry about. Make sure that the garbage disposal unit is still turned OFF during this step.

How To Get Rid Of Smell In Garbage Disposal

The combination of baking soda and vinegar creates a mixture that helps clean and unclog your drain pipes but in a much gentler and safer way compared to your typical drain cleaner and this is one of the best methods in unclogging when garbage your  disposal  is not draining water.  

Wait about five to ten minutes for the baking soda and white vinegar combination to do their job. Then, pour in some warm down the drain water to flush out the cleaning agent.

When water drains completely, you can turn your disposal unit back to ON, and you’re done. If your garbage disposal unit still doesn’t work, it would depend on you if you want to detach the garbage disposal from the sink and check the unit thoroughly and also peek inside the drainpipe with a flashlight. But if you don’t want to be hassled, you might want to call for a plumber’s service.

Garbage Disposal Reset Button-28

You may be wondering why a drain cleaner isn’t used in any of the suggested steps even though we know that this is one of the most common elements people use in draining out a clogged sink. The fact is, when dealing with a clogged garbage disposal unit, you have to remember that powerful cleaning chemicals contained in drain cleaners can cause corrosion to the plastic and metal components of the blades of your unit. Drain cleaners are best only for sinks without the garbage disposals so using these can cause even bigger problems than garbage disposal not draining water.

Garbage Disposal Not Draining When Off

If your problem is with your garbage disposal not draining water even when it’s turned off, you could try cleaning out the drain pipes where the clog may have developed. 

The first thing you need to do is turn on your unit and dump ice cubes while running cold water from the faucet at the same time. Watch if the water continues to drain out. The purpose of this is to let loose any clog that is clogging the holes of the unit where the wastewater is supposed to pass through as well as to force water out into the drainpipe to loosen up the clog.

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

If these fail, you could try resetting your garbage disposal unit through the reset button. The reset button is a small red button located at the bottom part of your garbage disposal. 

To reset your garbage disposal unit, follow these simple steps:

Make sure that the garbage disposal unit is turned OFF.

Then, press the red reset button located on the bottom side of the garbage disposal unit. You should be able to hear a click. If the reset button does not stay in, wait about ten minutes and press it again.

Run a cold stream of water through your sink and turn the garbage disposal ON. Your disposal unit should now be back up and running again.How To Get Rid Of Smell In Garbage Disposal

If this trick will still not work and the issue of garbage disposal not draining persists, there might be a significant amount of debris that is causing the blockage in your plumbing line. The debris could be blocking up pipes in your drainpipe like the P-trap or other joints in the plumbing line. 

To solve the issue, you can try disassembling your plumbing lines under your sink, find the clog, remove it and fix the lines again. But if this sounds too hectic for you, you may also seek a plumbing service.

How to Prevent Garbage Disposal Clogs

Garbage Disposal Reset Button

We all know how convenient it is to be able to just throw any leftover food and scraps down your garbage disposal unit. But then, this luxury still requires the use of common sense while properly maintaining your unit to avoid problems like clogging, jamming, foul odors and other things that can cause your disposal unit to malfunction.

As we believe in the saying, “prevention is better than cure”, this also applies to the use of our garbage disposal units. So instead of frequently trying to figure out the causes of garbage disposal not draining and what to do when issues occur, better take note of the following suggestions to ensure having an always functional garbage disposal unit:

Throw Soft Food Waste Only

Garbage disposals are designed for discarding cooked food waste and soft food scraps only and nothing more. They are not built for grinding tough fruit peelings, roots of vegetables, or uncooked meat as their impellers are not sharp enough to slash and grind these types of food waste. So other than the fragile food waste, the rest should be tossed in their respective bins.

How To Get Rid Of Smell In Garbage Disposal

Be Selective in the Food You Throw In

Not all food items are safe for your garbage disposal unit. Food scraps such as bones, corn husks, and apple cores are way too hard for your unit’s impellers to grind up. Food that contains a lot of starch such as pasta, rice, and potatoes should also go straight to your trash bin. The starch in these foods can expand in your drain pipes and block the passageway. Grease, fats, and oil are also some things you should avoid throwing into your garbage disposal because they can harden and cause blockages.

 Eggshells and celery are also some of the food that should be tossed in your trash bin instead of your garbage disposal unit. Eggshells can become like small pieces of rocks that can scratch the inside of your garbage disposal and can also clog up your kitchen sink’s drain line. As for the celery, they have tough fibrous strands that may get wrapped around the impellers of your garbage disposal unit.

Always Run Cold Water When Disposing Of Food Waste

You should always have a steady stream of cold water running while, before, and after using your garbage disposal unit. Doing this helps prevent any grease, oil, or fat, or any other forms of debris from hardening and can prevent them from making any blockages in your disposal unit.

How To Get Rid Of Smell In Garbage Disposal

Do Not Throw Large Volume of Food Waste at the Same Time

Overloading a disposal unit is probably one of the biggest causes as to why you have a problem with your garbage disposal not draining water. Your garbage disposal unit also has its load limits and the metal blades can only grind up enough food per batch. So go easy with your disposal unit by throwing in waste a little at a time.

Cut up Large Pieces of Food Before Grinding Them

Practice helping your garbage disposal with its work by chopping down large chunks of food into tiny pieces before throwing them in. We know that would take a bit more work but pieces of food that are too big for your garbage disposal to grind up can get stuck in the disposal unit’s metal blades and the drain line.

Garbage Disposal Reset Button

Always Keep Your Garbage Disposal Unit Clean

After using your garbage disposal, keep it running and pour in a small amount of dish soap and cold water to clean the impellers and to keep the disposal unit from smelling bad. Another way to clean up your garbage disposal is to throw in ice cubes along with citrus fruit peels such as lemon and orange and grind them up. Grinding ice cubes help keep the impellers sediment-free and out of any debris while the citrus fruit peels will deodorize the foul odor. Practice doing this at least once every two to three weeks to keep your garbage disposal unit smelling fresh and well-maintained.

Run the Garbage Disposal Regularly

If you don’t use your garbage disposal regularly, try to run it at least once a day as part of its cleaning maintenance needs. You can run some cold water from your faucet while your unit is running. Keep the water running for a minute and listen to its sound. Is there a clunking sound or some weird sounds that you don’t normally hear? The clanking sound may indicate loose blades or impellers. How To Tighten Garbage Disposal Blades

Operating your garbage disposal can also lessen the build-up of rust and corrosion while you can keep it away from freezing and wastewater stagnation which can be the cause of the bad odor. Another result of not using your disposal for too long is that any leftover debris inside your unit can harden up which can cause clogging. 

Maintaining your garbage disposal unit and keeping it in good operating condition can help make your home life easier. It only takes a couple of minutes to do these tips and you can have headache-free use with your unit. 

In Summary

If you have garbage disposal installed, you are most likely throwing in a variety of food waste into it. So as a reminder, food scraps in small sizes and quantities are the ideal types that can easily be grounded and go down the drain easily. However, whenever you treat your unit like a heavy-duty grinding machine, problems like clogging and jamming may come up. 


Having a garbage disposal not draining can be a bit disappointing but not to the point of losing your hope. The good news is, there are different ways in preventing and fixing this issue. But still, try to maintain your garbage disposal regularly and make sure that you are exercising caution whenever you use it. 


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