How to Clear a Clog in a Sink With a Food Disposal In-Sink-Erator

Emily Patterson

An InSinkErator becomes clogged when too much food has been put in the unit at one time. The food disposal also becomes clogged when there is not water running through the drain while it is grinding up food. Dish cloths, paper towels or other things that may fall into the unit also will clog the sink.

If the clog cannot be removed by reaching into the unit and pulling out the excess or accidental debris, take the plumbing apart to locate and remove the clog.

  1. Fill the sink with a few inches of hot water.

  2. Place the plunger over the drain and gently push the plunger handle up and down to dislodge the clog. Do not push the plunger hard or it may break the pipe leading out of the InSinkErator. If this does not clear the clog, continue with the next steps.

  3. Remove everything from under the sink.

  4. Place an old towel on the bottom of the base cabinet under the sink and tight against the plumbing to prevent leaking water from damaging the bottom of the base cabinet.

  5. Use the pipe wrench to unscrew the collar that connects the drain pipe to the InSinkErator.

  6. Use the pipe wrench or large pliers to unscrew the collar that connects the InSinkErator to the trap. The trap is the S-shaped pipe between the InSinkErator and main drain pipe. The trap may be located after the connecting pipe that joins the drains for a double-bowl sink.

  7. Inspect the drainage opening of the InSinkErator for blockages. Use a small screwdriver to remove any debris lodged in the opening.

  8. Use the pipe wrench or large pliers to unscrew the collar that connects the trap to the drain pipe.

  9. Inspect the trap for blockages. Use a small screwdriver to dislodge any debris in the trap and wash thoroughly.

  10. Replace the trap and InSinkErator drain pipe. Put the pipes in position and use your hand to gently tighten the collars that hold the pipes together. When all of the pipes are properly aligned and in position, use the pipe wrench to tighten the collars on all the pipes.


Prevent clogs by adding small amounts of garbage to the InSinkErator and ensuring adequate water flow to wash waste from the unit. Use a sink screen to prevent unwanted objects from falling into the InSinkErator.


Make absolutely sure the power to the InSinkErator cannot be accidentally turned on while servicing. If the unit is plugged into an outlet under the sink, unplug the unit before servicing.