Learning About Residential Furnaces

How To Clean Broken Glass Out Of A Garbage Disposal

If you have a garbage disposal, you appreciate the convenience of being able to get rid of food scraps. However, things fall down the drain that shouldn't, either by accident or maybe because a 5-year old thinks garbage disposals can shred glass. In some cases, this issue can be fixed by rotating the grinder backward, but this doesn't always fix the problem. Here are tips on how to get glass out of a garbage disposal.

Prepare to Work

To make this repair, you need

  • thick work gloves
  • paper bag
  • tweezers, kitchen tongs, or raw potato
  • flashlight
  • wet-dry vacuum,
  • paper bag
  • screwdriver
  • piece of cardboard
  • Allen key or broom handle
  • garbage disposal wrench (flat metal plumbing tool with U-shaped blade)

Never turn the garbage disposal on to remove the glass because it could result in injury and damage your unit. Disconnect the cord from the outlet, or turn off the power from the breaker if the unit is hardwired, then remove the wires with a screwdriver.

Remove Glass

Wearing work gloves, shine a flashlight into the unit. Use tweezers or kitchen tongs to remove small pieces of glass, then discard the pieces in a paper bag. Alternatively, insert a piece of raw potato big enough to fit though the opening and on the surface of the disposal to force the glass out. Detach the unit from the cabinet by raising it from the bottom and turning it 1/8 to ¼ of a rotation to the left.

Insert an Allen key in the slot provided at the bottom of the disposal, rotate it right until you meet resistance to clear the blades, and then rotate the Allen key left. Rotate the blades manually, and if the blades still don't move smoothly, set the unit back in place, insert a garbage disposal wrench in the drain, and turn it in the same manner. Use a broom handle for units without a hex key slot.

Test the Unit

Before you reconnect the unit, use a wet-dry vacuum to suck out glass pieces you may have missed. Reconnect the wires, and turn the power back on to the unit. Stay away from the disposal opening in case glass is still there.

Check the red reset button, and press it back in to reset the unit, if necessary. Run cold water for a minute or two to test for proper operation. Small glass pieces will eventually flush out, but if not, they aren't too harmful, and they can sharpen the blades. 

Your garbage disposal should work as good as new. If your repairs fail, there is something else clogging up your unit, which needs the attention of a plumbing contractor.