I often wish my parents would have informed me when I was 12 what I would be in for once I became an adult. The mortgage bills, the perpetually squeaky fan belt in the truck, the blinds that refuse to close properly in the bedroom. The list seems endless and the repairs often have to be prioritized by what is most urgent. But the other day, I was in for another shocker, and this goes to show how inept and clueless I can be about the workings of home plumbing. While my dishwasher was running, I realized that my garbage disposal unit was emitting an odd gurgling and burping sound. Then, very slowly, water started to fill in the sink, only enough to scare me senseless and cause me to open and close my mouth like a mindless fish.
Although I admit that the fine art of advanced plumbing remains a total mystery to me, coming up with solutions to plumbing issues is another story. I have been quite fortunate with most issues I have had previous, and like a nice Associated Content-type guy, I am going to impart this knowledge upon you. These ideas, in keeping with my other earnest efforts of saving you some money, might save you a small fortune. There will be no throwing money at Mr. Plumber or even Liquid-plumr. And with all due respect to liquid chemical drain uncloggers, these products often do more harm than good.
1.) Find a Plunger
This idea may gross some people out, but the same plunger one might use for a toilet can also be manipulated for the sinks and shower stalls. Alas, anything that can get clogged can also simply get unclogged with some good old fashioned plunging action. In most cases, a clogged garbage disposal unit is the result of casting too many “tough food items” into the drain at the same time. Keeping blades in working order and plunging away at major blockages can have the desired result. This, before anything else, should be your first step.
2.) Purchase a Snake
No, not the reptile. The snake is a fairly long, metal tool that can be pushed down a drain and purchased at the local Lowe’s or Home Depot. In most cases, the snake contains a soft brush at its end and can be carefully pushed quite deep into the inner workings of your drains. Tread carefully so as not to cause damage to pipes as you search for the blockage. A gentle pushing motion will usually dislodge a minor clog and get your garbage disposal unit working properly again.
3.) Vacuum to the Rescue!
Lastly, if all else fails and you do not want to check the Yellow Pages just yet, get out the vacuum. A wet / dry vacuum’s suction can often unhinge clogs located in your drainage, but from personal experience this step was least effective. It will depend on the strength of the vacuum, of course. Be sure to cover the entire drain opening for maximum results.
One more pertinent word of caution: Never work on a garbage disposal unit that is still plugged in! The serious ramifications should be quite obvious. Never stick your hand down the drain on the garbage disposal side as well. And if your unit still does not work after the drain has been unclogged, press the reset button (normally a red button under the kitchen sink on the unit itself). It took me two years to figure this out. Just another mindless fish moment for me.