The garbage disposal system has become a widely popular and regularly used appliance within kitchens across the country. In most instances, the operation of this appliance is easy, effective, and smooth; however, there are some instances where the system may not run appropriately.

In most cases, the first sign that you will see – especially in dual sink units – is a water backup in the sink opposite the disposal system. There are several reasons why this may occur. The most common are the development of a clog within the drain lines of your home, complications associated with the installation of the unit, and overuse. Continue reading to learn more and to obtain information on how to handle this issue.

kitchen sink

Clogged Pipe

If your garbage disposal becomes clogged, it is typically quite easy to correct the issue. Depending on the severity, though, you may be required to enlist the assistance of a professional. If you find that you require professional assistance, skip to the last paragraph of this guide for the contact information required to set up an appointment now. The following outlines the steps you may take to attempt to fix the clog yourself:

  1. If water is backed up to the point of a depth of 3-4 inches, leave it as is. If it is not backed up to this height, you will need to add enough to reach a depth of 3-4 inches.
  2. Next, use a plunger that you have purchased specifically for kitchen use only and start plunging the side where the disposal system is located. Again, use only a sink plunger for this step.
  3. Next, remove the plug with the water measuring 3-4 inches in depth and continue plunging the side where the garbage disposal is located.

If you find that the above steps do not work right away, repeat. If the clog remains, plunging will not be effective. This means that the clog is much deeper down. If you find that this is the case, gather an adjustable wrench, a pair of pliers, a bucket, and a plumber’s snake. Remove everything from under the sink and put the bucket that you have directly underneath the pipe of the sink. Then, perform the following steps:

  1. Identify the threaded plug that is located on the trap. Once you find it, use either your pliers or wrench to gently loosen it. If you find that there is no threaded plug, you will need to remove the entire trap as a whole. Keep track of where you place these parts.
  2. You will see a pipe that is elbow-shaped. This must be removed. This is the pipe that actually connects the garbage disposal system directly to the drain of the sink.
  3. Once removed, take the tailpiece of the pipe off and clean it thoroughly.
  4. If you have yet to locate the source of the clog, continue this process by removing the trap. It will be connected directly to the main drain pipe under the sink.
  5. Once all pieces are removed and are thoroughly cleaned, take the plumber’s snakes and work it through the main drain pipe of the sink. In most instances, this pipe is connected to a wall on the back side of the sink.
  6. As you push the snake through, crank the handle in a clockwise motion. Eventually, you will start to experience resistance.
  7. Continue working through the clog until there is no longer any resistance and you can tell that the clog has been eliminated.
  8. Clean off your plumber’s snake and leave it somewhere so that it may dry before putting it away.
  9. Put everything that you originally removed under the sink back together. If you had a threaded plug, ensure that it is tightly on the pipe.
  10. Once everything is in place, you may then run hot water down both of the sides of your dual sink where the garbage disposal system is located. For extra measure, you may place a small amount of baking soda in each drain and pour a cup of white vinegar over both sides. This will help to clean the drains and remove any strange smells. Finally, run hot water down both drains again.

Installation Problems

If your garbage disposal has recently been placed in your home, installation problems may be the culprit behind water backing up into the sink opposite the system.

Both the unit and the sink will have a trap. They are connected to the drain line that was previously mentioned that typically goes into the wall. This makes a “Y” shape; however, if the disposal is connected through a tailpiece of the opposite sink, it will make a “T” shape.

If this is the case, the water can then be pushed up through the sink when the garbage disposal is used. Then, a clog will develop. You may have a special “T” shape pipe that makes the water go downward or you may simply transition to the “Y” shaped system. To correct this issue, you may need to contact a professional plumber.


Overuse – in general – may result in a clog which results in the backflow of water in the sink opposite of your garbage disposal.

Little jams can result in big issues.

If you find that you suffer from a jam, turn the system completely off. Then, take a wrench and turn the blades in both of the directions that they will go to clear the obstruction. If you find you do not hear the motor once you power it back on, you have tripped the overload protector. There will usually be a reset button located somewhere along the outside of the garbage disposal.

Garbage disposals are appliances. Like any other appliance, they require regular maintenance and care in use. To avoid overuse clogs and complications, be sure to take note of that which may be placed in the system and that which should not be placed in the system.

Additionally, you should have a plumber come out and perform regular cleanings and maintenance on the system. In doing these steps, you will find that you suffer from no overuse complications and that the system operates as safely as possible at all times.

Contact Us Today

We here at Reynolds Plumbing specialize in garbage disposal systems, home plumbing, commercial plumbing, and all associated complications associated with these areas. Given the fact that garbage disposal systems have blades and other dangerous components, we highly recommend that you leave any and all work associated with the appliances to us. We can handle your issues quickly and efficiently – ensuring the safety of you, your loved ones, and your home.

Most of the problems that cause water to back up into a sink opposite of a garbage disposal are caused by a clog or jam. While jams are considered to be easy to fix, it should not be performed by someone that lacks the proper knowledge of the system, the right tools, and skill. We here at Reynolds Plumbing offer the fastest service at the most competitive prices. We strive to ensure your complete satisfaction. Why struggle with a garbage disposal unit that is causing problems with your home plumbing system? By calling us now, you are not only ensuring your safety and the safety of your home, but you are guaranteeing that the problem is solved quick and you are preventing major problems in the future.

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