Garbage Disposal Wrench (What is it, Types, How to use)

When it comes to kitchen appliances, a garbage disposal is one that is incredibly helpful and you will use it every day. With a garbage disposal, there is maintenance required, just like any plumbing system. To do maintenance on a garbage disposal, you will need a special tool called a garbage disposal wrench.

A garbage disposal wrench is a tool that’s used to free a clogged disposal unit from blockage manually. This tool is meant to reach down the drain and lock onto the bolts on the rotating plate. Once properly fit, it can be rotated to clear blockage manually. Debris may get onto the wrench after use.

This wrench helps to turn the disposal both clockwise and counter-clockwise to dislodge any clogs that stop the disposal from working. Keep reading to learn more about this specialty wrench and how to use it!

Wrenches Used on Garbage Disposals

The wrenches used on garbage disposals are used mostly for the purpose of unclogging the disposal. There are actually two kinds of wrenches that are used to do this. The first is an Allen wrench, generally a 1/4 inch Allen wrench, and a garbage disposal wrench. Each wrench is used on different parts of the disposal, but they are both used for removing jams.

Allen Wrench

The first kind of wrench that can be used on a garbage disposal is an Allen wrench. This kind of wrench is also known as a hex key because of the hexagonal shape of its head, and the hexagonal shape of the holes that it fits into. It is literally the key for a hex shape.

Allen wrenches are used in a wide variety of projects, and most homeowners have a set or should have a set, so it is not something that you will have to go out and buy should a situation arise where you need one. For most garbage disposals, an Allen wrench of the proper size is usually included and can be found in the packaging or taped to the outside of the disposal. If it is not included, or you have misplaced the included wrench, a 1/4 inch Allen wrench should fit most hex holes on garbage disposals as it is the standard size.

Using an Allen wrench to unclog a garbage disposal is relatively simple. Garbage disposal units have a hex hole centered on the bottom. Connected to this hexagonal hole is a shaft that directly connects with the turntable of the disposal unit.

When there is a blockage in the disposal, place the head of the Allen wrench into the hex hole and rotate counter-clockwise first and then clockwise. Repeat these rotations, while being gentle but firm, until the turntable rotates freely. Once free of any blockage, run some water into the disposal, and switch it ON for a few minutes so any debris in the grinding chamber can be washed down the drain pipes.

Garbage Disposal Wrench

The other kind of wrench used for garbage disposal is a garbage disposal wrench, which is pretty self-explanatory. This wrench was made specifically for one purpose, unclogging garbage disposals. The dimensions of this wrench are made to fit perfectly inside of a garbage disposal. The great thing about this wrench is that it can access the inside of the disposal while keeping your hands safely on the outside should something go wrong.

This wrench does not have alternate uses, unlike the Allen wrench, so most homeowners do not own one. It is also not typically included with the purchase of a disposal. Luckily, it is not likely that you will have blockage serious enough to need this wrench. Garbage disposal wrenches are available in different models but all follow the same, general design. They are universal to each disposal model as well.

Every garbage disposal wrench has a handle, a shaft, and a swivel head at the end that can lock into the shredder plate of disposal units. The handle makes it easier to turn the wrench, the shaft gives it a long enough reach to reach into the grinding chamber, and the swivel head makes it easier to get the wrench down the drain and then swivel to fit the diameter of the disposal once inside. (Source)

Using a garbage disposal wrench is not a difficult task. While it is a specialty tool, it is not complicated and there are rarely any situations where it does not work how it is expected to work. When there is a clog in your garbage disposal that calls for a garbage disposal wrench, just follow these five steps to free up the mechanism again.

  1. Insert the swivel head of the disposal wrench through the drain hole till it hits the bottom of the disposal.
  2. Turn the wrench slightly so that it locks onto the shredder plate of the unit.
  3. Turn the wrench to and fro to dislodge any debris that jams the shredder plate.
  4. Once the shredder plate starts rotating freely, remove the wrench from the disposal unit.
  5. Keep some cold water running and turn ON the disposal to wash away any debris left in the disposal unit.

When to Use a Garbage Disposal Wrench

If an Allen wrench and a garbage disposal wrench are used to resolve the same maintenance issue on a garbage disposal unit, then why would you need to buy a garbage disposal wrench in the first place? There are specific situations for both kinds of wrenches, even if they solve the same problem.

An Allen wrench can only do so much. The amount of force that you are able to exert on the disposal unit from the bottom with an Allen wrench is not very great. Too much force and you will break the mechanism. However, sometimes a blockage is too big or it is too stuck in the disposal for the Allen wrench to dislodge it. If this is the case, you need a garbage disposal wrench. This wrench accesses the grinding chamber and the turntable directly which allows you to put more force into it and remove bigger blockages.


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