Garbage Disposal Jammed With Glass: 5-Step Fix


Maybe you dropped a wine glass into your sink and it shattered. Or perhaps you were washing some glass dishware, and it broke.

Either way, you now have glass shards that have made their way down the drain and into the garbage disposal.

Will glass jam your garbage disposal and cause damage? How can you safely remove all of the glass?

If your garbage disposal is jammed with glass, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the power to the disposal.
  • Remove large glass shards with pliers.
  • Suck up smaller pieces with a Shop-Vac.
  • Manually move the blades to dislodge any stuck glass.
  • Run the Shop-Vac again.
  • Test the disposal.
  • If you hear a grinding noise, repeat the process or call a plumber.

Read on to learn about what can happen when glass goes down your sink and disposal. We’ll also provide a full step-by-step explanation of how to remove broken glass from your garbage disposal system.

Can Glass Go Down The Sink?

You should never intentionally put glass down your sink or disposal. If glass does make its way into the sink drain or garbage disposal, then it’s important to remove it or contact a plumber to do it for you.

Not only is glass bad for your garbage disposal and plumbing, but it can present a hazard to you and anyone else who uses the sink and disposal. 

If you turn on a garbage disposal that has glass in it, there’s a chance that glass shards may fly out and cause injury.

Plus, since garbage disposal systems are only meant to handle soft food waste, glass can wear down and even break the disposal altogether.

In the event that glass goes down the garbage disposal, be sure to turn off the power to the disposal immediately. 

Avoid putting your hand down the drain because there’s a risk of getting cut by stray pieces of glass.

Instead, you’ll want to grab a pair of needle-nose pliers or small kitchen tongs to remove the glass. We’ll cover exactly how to do this later in the article.

Will Broken Glass Ruin A Garbage Disposal?

There’s a misconception that putting items like broken glass and eggshells into a disposal will sharpen the blades and make the appliance run better. This is not true, and you should never put glass or hard food waste into your disposal!

Not only can glass damage the disposal system and potentially the plumbing, but it can also lead to injury if pieces of glass fly out of the disposal when it’s running.

Glass is likely to get stuck in the garbage disposal’s impellers and the grinding chamber. This can lead to further problems with clogs, jamming, and the flywheel failing to rotate.

These issues, in turn, can lead to the motor getting worn out.

When the motor wears out, you’ll need to replace your garbage disposal system. In this way, broken glass in your disposal can result in you having to shell out money for a new system to be installed.

Therefore, it’s best to remove the broken glass as soon as you can.

How Do You Fix A Garbage Disposal Jammed With Glass?

While you will be able to remove the glass yourself in most cases, calling a professional to handle the situation may be a better option.

Be sure to call in a plumber if you’re concerned that you won’t be able to get all the glass out or are nervous about handling broken glass.

Here’s a quick video overview of the steps you’ll want to take to remove the glass. Scroll down for a step-by-step explanation of the process.

For this repair, you’ll need a flashlight, needle-nose pliers, a Shop-Vac, and an Allen wrench or broom.

Step 1: Disconnect The Disposal From Power

Flip the disposal’s power switch to the off position and unplug it from the wall underneath the sink. You may also wish to turn the circuit off to be extra safe. 

The last thing you want is to accidentally turn on the disposal while you’re attempting to dig out shards of glass. This can be dangerous for you, and it can damage the disposal system.

Step 2: Use Pliers To Remove Large Pieces Of Glass

Grab a pair of needle-nose pliers and a flashlight so that you can look inside the disposal from the top and remove any large shards of glass.

Never use your hands for this, even if you’re wearing gloves.

Step 3: Retrieve Smaller Pieces With a Shop-Vac

Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Use your Shop-Vac to suck up any smaller pieces that are stuck inside of the disposal.

If you have a long, skinny attachment for your Shop-Vac, that will be the best choice for fitting into all of the nooks and crannies of the disposal system.

Step 4: Turn The Blades

At this point, you’ve removed most of the glass. However, there are likely some small pieces that are stuck near the flywheel. To manually rotate the flywheel and impellers, you’ll need an Allen wrench.

Insert the Allen wrench into the hole in the center of the bottom of the disposal. Crank it from side to side to loosen any stuck pieces of glass. 

If you don’t have an Allen wrench handy, you can also grab a broom. Use the handle to push the blades around from the top of the disposal.

Once you’ve manually turned the blades, suck up any pieces of glass that were dislodged with your Shop-Vac.

Step 5: Test The Disposal

When you’re pretty sure you’ve removed all the glass from the disposal, it’s time to test it. Turn the circuit back on, plug in the disposal, and flip the switch on while running cold water. 

We recommend stepping back just in case there is still glass in the disposal that could fly out.

If the disposal seems to be working normally, then you should be good to go! However, if you hear a loud grinding noise, that’s a sure sign that there’s still glass inside.

At this point, one option is to repeat the process. However, it’s better to call in a plumber to handle the situation before the glass causes any damage.

Conclusion

When your garbage disposal is jammed with glass, the first thing you should do is disconnect it from power.

Next, use needle-nose pliers (never your hands) to remove large shards of glass. Suck up smaller, less accessible pieces with a Shop-Vac. You’ll want to use the long, skinny attachment.

Manually move the blades with an Allen wrench or a broom handle to dislodge any glass pieces that are stuck. Then, run the Shop-Vac again to pick up any additional glass.

Test the disposal. If it seems to be running as usual, feel free to use it again. But if it’s not working properly, or if you hear a grinding noise, you may want to repeat the process or call in a plumber for help.

Know More About Garbage Disposals Through These Pages:

  1. Garbage Disposal Etiquette
  2. Garbage Disposal Overheating
  3. Garbage Disposal Outlet Not Working
  4. Smoke Coming From Garbage Disposal
  5. Garbage Disposal Backing Up Into Sink

Jessica Allen

Jessica is a freelance writer and editor who has years of experience writing about home improvement and interior design. When she’s not typing away in her office, you can find her doing yoga in her backyard or curling up with a good book.

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