What Makes Your Garbage Disposal Back Up

A garbage disposal is a great tool for any kitchen. It can help you cut down on your food waste and make it easier to clean up after cooking. But, like all machines, garbage disposals have their problems.

If you have a garbage disposal, you’ve probably experienced the pain of a backed-up sink. If you’re in that situation right now, don’t worry—you’re not alone. As many as 80% of all households in Santa Fe have experienced this problem at some point or another.

But why does it happen? And what can you do about it? 

In this article, the best garbage disposal experts in Santa Fe, NM, will help learn more about the causes of garbage disposal backing up into other sinks and solutions for backing up garbage disposals.

Why does your garbage disposal backing up?

Garbage disposals are one of the most useful appliances in the kitchen. They take the hassle out of food prep by grinding up food scraps into tiny pieces—no need to use a chisel and hammer!

Garbage disposals are so convenient but can also be a nightmare if they aren’t maintained properly. If your garbage disposal is backing up, it’s probably because of one of several things.

Here’s what you need to know about garbage disposal backing up into dishwasher or sink:


Clogs can happen anywhere in your garbage disposal system. One of the most common places to get clogged is at the bottom of your sink drain, where it meets the garbage disposal drain. Hair and debris can get stuck in this area and cause a blockage if not cleaned regularly. The second most common place for clogs is at the bottom of your garbage disposal unit behind the blades. 

Grease and Fat Buildup

Grease and fat buildup can occur when people use their garbage disposal for purposes other than disposing of food scraps. For example, if you use your garbage disposal to grind up chicken bones or egg shells, these items will not dissolve in water like other food scraps. Instead, they will accumulate on the sides of your garbage disposal’s chamber wall, where they can cause more damage over time.

Foreign Objects

Garbage disposals are meant to grind up food and other organic material, but if you dump something that’s not supposed to go into the disposal, it can get jammed. This is especially true if you put in something pointy or hard.

Faulty Garbage Disposals

Faulty garbage disposals can happen for a variety of reasons, including an out-of-date model or insufficient maintenance. If you have an older model or if you don’t clean and maintain it regularly, it could start to malfunction or break down over time. This can lead to a backed-up drain.

Plumbing Issues

If your dishwasher backing up into garbage disposal sink and you notice that the water is not flowing freely into it, there could be a plumbing issue. Check the walls and floor around the drain to see if there’s any damage or missing parts. If you find damage, call a plumber to come look at it!

Lack of Water Flow

If there isn’t enough water flowing through the pipes for the garbage disposal to operate properly, then it might back up on itself and cause problems with its operation. This can be caused by something as simple as a plugged sink or shower head (easily fixed) or something more serious like a cracked pipe underground (which requires professional service for garbage disposal repair Santa Fe).

Improper Installation 

If your plumber has not done proper Santa Fe garbage disposal installation, this can lead to leaks and other issues. In order to ensure that your disposal is installed correctly, make sure that the drain hole is not obstructed by food or other debris.

Tools and Material You’ll Need to fix the garbage disposal not working issue

If you have an issue with your garbage disposal, it’s usually pretty easy to fix. You just need to know which tools and materials you’ll need. Here are the tools you will need:

  • Screwdriver (Phillips and Flathead).
  • Allen wrench (usually provided with disposal).
  • Pliers or tongs.
  • Plunger.
  • Drain snake or auger.
  • Baking soda.
  • Vinegar.
  • Ice cubes.
  • Rock salt.
  • Flashlight.
  • Safety gloves.
  • Bucket or container.
  • Dish soap.
  • An old toothbrush or scrub brush.
  • Clean cloth or rag.

What to Do with Backing Up Garbage Disposals?

The garbage disposal is an important part of your kitchen and plumbing system. When it works, you can use it to grind up food scraps and other debris so that they’re easier to flush down the drain. But when this appliance starts backing up and causing problems, you need to know how to fix the backing-up garbage disposal so you can get back to using it for its intended purpose.

Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to get your garbage disposal working again:

Turn off the Garbage Disposal

Look for an on/off switch on the disposal. If there isn’t one, unplug the electrical cord from the wall socket.

Disconnect the Power

Turn off any power switches that may be connected to your garbage disposal (for example, if it’s connected to a dishwasher), and pull out any fuses or circuit breakers that control that circuit.

Identify the Cause

Your next step is to identify the cause of your clog. There are a few common causes, but it’s important to know which one applies to you to ensure you’re fixing it correctly!

  • A foreign object (like food) might have fallen into the disposal and gotten stuck in the blades. If this is the case, turn off the power to the disposal and remove any objects from inside with tongs or pliers.
  • You may have accidentally poured grease down your drain, which has congealed into a hard mass that cannot be flushed through easily. If this happens, turn off the power to your disposal and use hot water to clean out your drain before turning it back on again.
  • Worn-out parts can cause a clog by not allowing water or food waste through quickly enough during use; these should be replaced as soon as possible so they don’t cause further problems down the line!

Use a Flashlight

You can use a flashlight to see inside your sink drain and where the problem is located. If you’re using a flashlight, be sure that it has an LED light so as not to damage your eyesight or cause any other long-term issues!

Attempt to Clear the Blockage

If you can reach the blockage and it is safe to do so, you can try to clear it manually. Use long-handled tongs or pliers to carefully remove any visible debris or foreign objects from the disposal. Always make sure the power is disconnected before attempting this.

Use an Allen Wrench

If you have an Allen wrench (the kind used for adjusting bicycle pedals), use it to remove the plate covering the hole in the bottom of your disposal. Many garbage disposals have a manual crank access point at the bottom. Insert an Allen wrench into this opening and manually turn the disposal back and forth a few times to see if it helps dislodge the clog. If you don’t have an Allen wrench, you can buy one at any hardware store and use it instead of a regular screwdriver.

Plunge the Drain

The next step is to plunge the drain, allowing you to clear any blockages in the pipe leading from your sink to the main line. To do this, turn off the power to your garbage disposal and open up your faucet. Use a plunger on top of the drain, pushing down and moving back and forth until water starts flowing freely through the pipes.

Use a Drain Snake

Another step is using a drain snake, which will help clear out any other obstructions in your plumbing system while also removing any food particles that may have gotten stuck in them. To use one, simply attach it to an extension cord and push it into the opening of your pipe until you feel resistance, then pull back slowly until all of those obstructions are gone!

Check the Dishwasher Connection

Another thing to do when your garbage disposal backs up is to check the connection of a dishwasher. Make sure that no food has gotten stuck in the hose and clogged it. If this is the problem, you can use a pair of pliers to pull out any pieces that are stuck inside.

If you’re not sure how to check this connection, follow these steps:

  • Locate the drain hose coming from your dishwasher.
  • Look for an elbow connector where it meets up with the garbage disposal unit. This should be right beneath the sink and above the drain hole in your sink, usually on one side of your pipes.
  • Find where this elbow connector meets up with your garbage disposal unit, then twist it off so you can get access inside.

Reset the garbage disposal. 

The last and most common reason for backed-up garbage disposal is simply because some food got stuck in the blades or outlet pipe and needs to be removed before it backs up again. For the garbage disposal reset button, turn off the power at the breaker (if you’re at home) or unplug it if you’re not home (and if you’re working on an electrical appliance). Then turn on the cold water and run it for 10 seconds before turning it off again and testing to see if things are working properly now!

DIY Vs. Professional Garbage Disposal Fix

It’s no secret that garbage disposals are common household appliances. They help us get rid of food scraps and make our lives easier, but what if something goes wrong? You might be tempted to call in a professional garbage disposal expert in Santa Fe, NM. But is it really worth the extra money? Or can you do it yourself?

DIY or professional?

Which one is better?

Here’s a comparison table to help you make a decision:


DIY Garbage Disposal Fix

Professional Garbage Disposal Fix


Generally less expensive as you only pay for tools and materials.

It can be more expensive due to labor and service charges.

Skill Required

Requires moderate to advanced DIY skills.

Requires expertise and experience in plumbing and appliance repair.

Time Needed

It can take longer as you may need to troubleshoot and research.

Typically faster as professionals are experienced in the process.

Safety Risk

It can be risky, especially if you’re not familiar with electrical components.

Safer as professionals are trained to handle potential hazards.

Success Guarantee

Success depends on your DIY skills and ability to identify the problem.

Higher success rate due to professional knowledge and equipment.

The complexity of Issues Addressed

Suitable for simple clogs or minor issues.

Can handle complex problems and diagnose underlying causes.

Warranty or Guarantee

No warranty unless covered by the product’s warranty.

Often comes with a service warranty or guarantee for their work.


It may require multiple attempts or trips to purchase tools.

They are convenient as they come with the necessary tools and equipment.

Common Scenarios

Clogs, minor jams, or simple mechanical issues.

Persistent clogs, electrical problems, or major mechanical issues.

How To Prevent Garbage Disposal Backing Up Into Sink?

Preventing garbage disposal from backing up into the sink involves adopting good practices and being mindful of what goes into the disposal. Here are some tips to help you prevent this issue:

  • Don’t put too much in at once. If you overload your disposal with scraps and scraps, the motor may burn out or break down.
  • Always run water while using your disposal. This will help prevent clogs from forming in the drain line.
  • Use cold water when running your dishwasher or washing dishes—this will help keep grease from sticking to your pipes and causing blockages.
  • Don’t put citrus fruits or other acidic foods at your disposal—these can cause corrosion inside pipes, leading to leaks and backups!
  • If you have a pipe coming from the sink into the wall behind it, ensure that it is at least 1 inch below where the sink drain meets the floor (or below where other pipes meet that one). This will allow any liquid backup into the sink to flow down into those pipes instead of back up into it again!
  • If there’s any buildup of gunk around your garbage disposal’s opening or bottom plate (where it attaches to the sink), use an old toothbrush or similar tool to clean out all of those nooks and crannies before putting anything else down there again!
  • Use a disposal cleaner regularly.
  • Avoid putting non-food items down the sink drain.
  • Avoid grinding large amounts of food at once.
  • Make sure you have a regular maintenance routine for keeping everything working properly when it comes to your pipes under the sink as well as any other parts of your home’s plumbing system too!


No. The bluntness of the blades is not the problem, and sharpening them will not solve your backup issues.

This happens because both types of plumbing have a bend in them, which means that water has to travel through the drainpipe at an angle. If either pipe is damaged, water will flow into the other pipe instead of flowing into the drain.

Eggshells are generally safe to put in the garbage disposal, as they can help clean the blades and pipes. However, break them into small pieces before disposal to prevent potential clogs.

It’s generally not recommended to use chemical drain cleaners in garbage disposals. These chemicals can be harsh and may damage the disposal’s components. Instead, use natural cleaning methods like baking soda and vinegar.

You should clean your garbage disposal every 3-6 months, depending on how often you use it. If you use it a lot, you’ll want to clean it more frequently.

$150 – $200, depending on the model, brand, and location.

It May be Time to Replace Garbage Disposal in Santa FE, NM!

When your garbage disposal isn’t working properly, it can be a real pain. You may have to deal with the smell, or you might have to keep putting off doing dishes because it’s so much work. If your garbage disposal is giving you trouble, then it’s time to call a professional plumber in Santa Fe, NM.

James Plumbing & Heating is here to help with all of your plumbing needs! With over 30 years of experience in Proper Maintenance and Installation of Garbage Disposal, we are experts at getting your drains flowing smoothly again so you can get back to living your best life.

We are the plumbing team you want on your side when it comes to garbage disposal installation and replacement services. Our technicians are factory trained and certified by InSinkErator, so you know that they will be able to handle any problem that might arise with your garbage disposal. We offer 24/7 emergency service, so if something happens when you aren’t home or at work, we can still get there quickly to fix it for you.

You can trust James Plumbing & Heating with all your plumbing needs—whether it’s something small like fixing a leaky faucet or something big like installing new pipes under your sink. We will always treat our customers’ homes as if they were our own by providing top-quality service at an affordable price.

If you need help installing a new garbage disposal or fixing an existing one in Santa Fe or anywhere else in New Mexico, give us a call today at 505-473-7148!

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