fork stuck in kitchen garbage disposal and unjammable

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by blackcheetah, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. blackcheetah

    blackcheetah New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    California
    new to this forum. searched the forum but no avail.

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    i believe there is a fork stuck in my garbage disposal and i've tried using the hex wrench to unjam, but it won't budge. also tried sticking a stick in there to unjam it, won't budge. then put my hand down there, felt nothing sticking out and it won't budge. electrics work as it hums when i throw the switch.

    water is backed up in it and there's a bunch of old grease and goo that has been sitting there while i waited for the water to trickle down. however that has come to a stop.

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    i feel my last resort is to call a plumber. how much do you think he would charge for a job like this?

    my other option is to buy a new disposal unit and install myself and hopefully save some money.

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    if there's water in the disposal unit, and i decide to replace myself, is there any precautions i need to take so i don't get week old grease, goo, all mixed with failed draino attempts, all over myself and the kitchen floor and cabinets?

    this grease is a rare form of goo that doesn't come off with degreaser. i guess some type of biological organism has grown on it or something. definitely some of the most disgusting substance i've ever had to handle.

    and can anyone recommend a decent degreaser so i can cleanse myself of week old bacon grease/draino/fungus concoction?

    please help.
  2. 6t7gto

    6t7gto DIY Junior Member

    Messages:
    46
    Location:
    Bedford, Ohio
    Clean it out with a shop vac.
  3. blackcheetah

    blackcheetah New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    California
    don't have a shop vac handy. i live in an apartment.

    also this stuff is pretty gunky and thick. think of a cheese after popping in the microwave for 30 seconds. that type of consistency and ultra greasy.

    tried scooping as much of it out as i could, but there's a splash guard keeping me from getting all of it. and most of it is stuck to the walls of the disposal unit. still about an inch or two of water and gunk left in there.

    thanks for the input though and keep 'em coming.
  4. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,068
    Location:
    Maine
    If you live in an apartment then call the super and have him deal with it. That's what you pay rent for.....well some of what you pay rent for
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,270
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    If you can install it yourself, and that is not a given, a new disposer will cost close to what a plumber would charge. But, he might not be able to unjam it, or the disposer could be worn out to the point where it needs replacing anyway, so the decision is up to you.
  6. blackcheetah

    blackcheetah New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    California
    yea i was considering that, but my landlord is elderly and if i could fix it for cheap, then i figured it would be a good project to deal with on my own, instead of having him stress over it. but if was costly, that's when i'd bug him.

    thanks for the input though.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,270
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    If it is a fork, then it is a "tenant caused problem", and the service person might still charge you for the repair.
  8. blackcheetah

    blackcheetah New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    California
    yes i assumed as much. i'm seeing disposal units going for 50-70 bucks so it's not a huge hit. and i've read that plumbers can charge up to $300 for parts and labor on this type of work.

    thanks for the input though.
  9. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades

    Messages:
    3,812
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    You may be able to Boil some water and put a bunch of Dish washing Liquid into it too help devolve the grease.
  10. blackcheetah

    blackcheetah New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    California
    yes i actually tried that when the unit was actually draining very slowly. now it barely drains at all so i don't want to compound the amount of water in the unit. i'm going to remove/replace the unit once i find a size-for-size replacement and when enough water drains out. so as to minimize the collateral mess once i break the seal between the disposal unit and sink.

    weird thing is when i stuck my hand in there and got the gunk on my hand, my extra strength degreasing dish soap had trouble getting it off my arm. which was a bit worrisome. kind of reminiscent of the gulf spill. i felt like one of those seagulls. poor birds.

    thanks for the input.
  11. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    WELL.....let me list the things you put into the disposal which should NEVER be there
    1) grease/oil of any kind
    2) degreaser
    3) drano
    4) fork
    5) your hand

    You have a mess on your hands...literally and figuratively! There is no way to avoid that when you take the disposer apart any residual water in it and in the pipes will need to be contained by a large pan. You ( or the plumber) will need to protect your eyes in case any drano splashes around. Warm soap water is the best thing to use to clean goop from your hands. However, most drain clog remover products are heavy alkalis...that will give your skin a funny feeling, and in fact can burn. Rinsing with white vinegar will help to neutralize. BUT here is the catch: we don't know what you put in the drain. SOME products are strong acids, so the treatment would be opposite. Check the label. If the main ingredient is sodium hydroxide, that is alkali.

    As far as the disposer, when something like a fork gets in there , one end can work its way under the grind table, making it almost impossible to remove. You will see it better when you drop the disposal down. Good chance you will need a new unit.

    IF you get the Badger 1 or 5, then please use it properly in the future: very small amounts of food, fed in slowly with LOTS of running water. NO BONES, no celery, no rice, no coffee grounds, etc. And NO GREASE AND OIL in ANY drain,
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012
  12. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,237
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Me thinks you have a clogged drain AND a broken disposer.
    Use a big pan under the sink and pull the drain apart so you can clear the pipes first.

    From what you have described, I would just toss the drain arms and traps in the trash and install new stuff. For the few dollars it would cost, it will save a lot of mess and hassle.

    If you plan on living there for a while, look at the Insinkerator Evolution series of disposers. They cost more but are by far superior to most others.
  13. blackcheetah

    blackcheetah New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    California
    well the thing is there are two sinks. the one without the disposal unit works fine. the one with the disposal unit does not flow, or flows extremely slowly.

    i believe the draino has cleared the drains as it did go down the sink, although very slowly. the clog happened maybe a day after i put the draino in. i tried running more water down that sink, and eventually it just backed up and wouldn't go down as fast. i'm not sure if it was the draino that did it, but i'm assuming so as i didn't put anything else down that drain.

    i've watched the youtube videos about replacing it and in these videos, the pipes attach to the disposal unit on the front or side. under my sinks, my pipes attach to the drain unit on the back. also there is a huge water filter on the side of it. so maybe doing it myself may be a little more difficult than i thought. anybody know how much a job like this would cost me if i got a plumber? i'm in los angeles.

    thanks for all the help.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012
  14. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,783
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Now you know why plumbers go to great lengths to keep whatever in the kitchen sink from backing up into the water supply.
    If you think the plumbing under a sink is bad, try cleaning out a restaurant grease trap. I use a two canister face mask for that, and rubber gloves. That stuff will be good for about seven days if it ever touches the skin.
  15. blackcheetah

    blackcheetah New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    California
    hi terry thanks for that.

    any tips on soaking/cleaning up the grease/water mixture that's in my disposal unit? i checked the unit and i'm almost certain that if i released the seal between the unit and the sink, all that grease would spill out the side, over the unit, and onto everything in the sink cabinet. that would not be a good thing, so i'm going to try to clean out whatever's in there myself, either by spooning it out from the sink hole or soaking it up with something.

    and does anyone know how much a plumber would charge to replace the unit for me? the ptrap and piping is located behind the unit and there's not much room to maneuver or see what's going on in there, as there's a water filter right next to all the piping, and the ptrap is nearly on the floor of the cabinet. every video on youtube and image i've seen has the piping to the front or side of the unit. so whoever did the initial plumbing in this unit may have screwed up.
  16. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Prices for plumbers, electricians, or any other tradesman will vary widely depending on area. That said, it seems to me you are struggling with a problem that is, to be blunt, taxing your abilities. In addition, you are messing with property that is not yours, and risking damage not only to your unit but to others as well. My advice to you is to give this to the landlord to decide on how to handle and stay out of it. And, for God's sake, in the future don't use caustic drain cleaners. As you have found, they don't work.
  17. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    Changing one out varies by the brand. Some are quite easy, some more involved. Finding one that's an exact replacement may mean you don't have to change anything except the motor assembly. But, this requires both electrical, mechanical, and plumbing skills as the new one generally won't have a power cord on it, and you'll need to do that as well.

    If it's one made by ISE, you don't have to change out the sink drain and the whole thing comes off fairly easily after loosening the screws, loosening the cam lock, and removing the circular split ring.

    Drain cleaning chemicals often don't work and can be a major problem if you then need to take the pipes apart as they are caustic. Chemical burns or destroying tools can be an issue and a plumber may end up charging more because you did this.
  18. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades

    Messages:
    3,812
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I think that Drano® was made by a Plumber, Then when you use it You will call him to get your tit out of the wringer. He gets your money twice.

    All I would use is hot water and plain Dish soap. If that don't work, the shop vac may clear the clog.

    Drano® or anything like it , Does more harm than good. Just ask your plumber. He loves your money...
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