How To Fix a Frozen Garbage Disposal

Ever have one of those days when nothing goes right?  Then to top it all off, you’re in the middle of cooking or clean-up and the garbage disposal freezes up?  A frozen garbage disposal doesn’t require a call to the local handyman.  In most cases you can fix it yourself if you have a certain tool and a little know how.

This is the tool:

You should have received one of these when you purchased your garbage disposal.  Never fear, though, if you don’t have one, a ¼” allen wrench will work just as well.  In fact, if you can’t find the tool that came with your garbage disposal, you might want to get an allen wrench and keep it handy.  It’s probably a good idea to tape the wrench to the inside of the cabinet that houses your garbage disposal so when you need it, you’ll know right where it is!

Just in case you don’t know what your garbage disposal looks like, here’s a picture:

To unfreeze your garbage disposal, go to the very bottom of the disposal and find the opening in the center.  Insert the wrench and move it to the right and left.  If your garbage disposal is frozen, you should feel resistance.  Keep working it and eventually it should get easier.  That means your disposal is good to go.

That’s it.  Now you know how to fix a frozen garbage disposal.  But if you don’t have the wrench, put that on your to do list and get one the next time you’re out.  Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you did!

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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25 thoughts on “How To Fix a Frozen Garbage Disposal

  1. Ok, just must comment that after years of fighting with my garbage disposals, which leaked, stank, jammed, and made too much noise, not to mention the chopped up flatware, I finally just got rid of mine about 2 years ago. I am so happy with the result! No stinky drain, nothing falls down in, no NOISE! I just have a mesh basket strainer and tip the accumulated stuff into my compost pile every day. If you live in an apartment and don’t have a compost heap, perhaps just an old sour cream container can hold the bits of food in your fridge until garbage day, when the whole container can be tossed.

    1. We were just the opposite. This house didn’t have a garbage disposal and it drove us crazy! All those little bits of food were a real pain to deal with. I got one of those mesh basket strainers but I wasn’t crazy about it. So when we remodeled the kitchen, we put in a disposal. We’re on a septic system here so we don’t put a lot down the disposal – just those little bits. When we have a lot, it goes in the trash.

      Sounds like you’ve been very unlucky with your garbage disposal. I would have gotten rid of it, too. Having lived without one for a while, I learned that you actually can live without one (we’ve always had one ). So if it caused that many problems, I’d get rid of it, too. Sounds like you did the right thing.

    1. I didn’t know there was a way to unstick it from the top. Good to know. That would be a lot easier than looking for that wrench and then laying on the floor. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Good day I am so grateful I found your website, I really found you by
    mistake, while I was browsing on Bing for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say cheers for
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  3. I just wanted to say thanks. My week hasn’t been going well and then this morning, the garbage disposal froze. It must have happened before for the old owner since after finally locating an allen wrench in my stockpile of tools, I got under the sink to find the exact size allen wrench needed. No they didn’t tape it to the disposal but it was located nearby and presto-chango, within seconds, no more frozen disposal. And to think in my earlier days, I paid a plumber. Older but wiser.

  4. Thank you so much! I accidentally dropped some aquarium pebbles down that side of the sink. We’ve been living without a g.d. for several weeks. I finally decided to look online, found a set of allen wrenches in our toolbox, and in less than a minute it was back in business! Thank you so much!

  5. I always stress out when one more thing goes wrong or breaks down. This time I kept calm and went on the internet for my frozen disposol. I don’t know if you believe in God, but when I got out the 1/4″ allen wrench and my disposol started working like new I was like praise God and the internet, and for your awesome solution!! Thank you for helping all us amateurs.. =)

  6. Thank you Patty! I spent 2 hours trying to take apart my disposal to fix the jam to no avail. I found your post and fixed it in 1 minute flat!!

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