Hardened substance in Garbage Disposal

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by 702jerry, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. 702jerry

    702jerry New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    las vegas
    Hello, about three weeks ago I put some left over beans in the garbage disposal. The disposal locked up. I used an allen wrench to loosen up the blades, which seemed to be successful, however when I attempted to plug the disposal in the disposal fired up even though the power switch was off. I had to pull the power cable while it was running. This freaked me out at the time because I did not know that one outlet was always hot so I left it unplugged.

    This occurred the night before I had to leave town for two weeks on business. I poured a some alcohol down the garbage disposal and left town. On my first day off after I came back I checked the garbage disposal. The beans and whatever else was in there had solidified to the point that I could not loosen up the blades with an allen wrench. With the disposal unplugged, I put my hand in there to check and the substance felt solid.

    Is there anything that I can pour down the garbage disposal that would soften or loosen up the hard substance that is in there, without eating through the PVC piping underneath?

    I tried some boiling hot water but that didn’t really do the trick. Looking for something stronger.

    Thx.
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,432
    Location:
    IL
    At least some disposals have a hex nut holding something or other in place inside accessible from the top. I un-jammed a disposer with a hex socket (maybe it was 5/8 inch... maybe some other size) hooked to an extension, and turned that from above with the socket wrench ratchet. If I remember correctly, turning clockwise does not unscrew the nut, so you can apply considerable torque trying to force the turning.

    After things are turning, you could try grinding some ice cubes in there to see if that cleans things up. Also use a lot of water through the running disposal.
  3. fullysprinklered

    fullysprinklered Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Georgia
    I had a customer last week who had dumped his leftover tile grout down the kitchen sink, disposer side. They had already managed to free the blades, but the area under the blades and all the way through the p-trap was full of hardened cement. I tossed out the trap and the black elbow then chipped out the inside of the disposer with a hammer and a sacrificial chisel. Picked the pieces out with needle nose pliers.

    Update on the fix; lasted maybe a week. There was some grout hiding in the nooks and crannies under the blade disk. It came out and clogged up the disposer at the exit point. Quick fix, but an unwelcome call-back. Should have been more aggressive checking it out before I left.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2014
  4. 702jerry

    702jerry New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    las vegas
    Interesting replies, thanks. Only thing is that I'm very inexperienced with plumbing and garbage disposals in particular. Removing the trap and black elbow or un-jamming with a hex socket connected to an extension are not things that I'd be any good at doing. I might do more damage than good if I tried.

    Isn't there some commercially available chemical that will dissolve the substance?
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,432
    Location:
    IL
    Water with maybe a little dish washing detergent would be as good as any. You would not want to plug the drain line so that you could let actual water stand in he disposer to let the crud soften. You could maybe stuff some rags into the hole, and keep them wet for a while.

    I think you should consider getting a new disposer installed.
  6. fullysprinklered

    fullysprinklered Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Georgia
    Dupont or Union Carbide might be interested in that alcohol/bean thing you invented. More to the point, I'm thinking repeated doses of boiling hot water might do some good.
  7. fullysprinklered

    fullysprinklered Member

    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    Georgia
    Did you find something that worked for you Jerry?
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