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How To Use Garbage Disposal Wrench

What is a garbage disposal wrench

A garbage disposal wrench, also known as an Allen wrench or a hex key, is a tool that is used to manually rotate the impellers in a garbage disposal unit. They are L-shaped and have a hexagonal cross-section.

What size Allen wrench for garbage disposal

They are available in many sizes. For a garbage disposal, the required size of the Allen wrench is 1/4 inches.

A garbage disposal wrench is used to unjam a garbage disposal.

Here’s how to use a garbage disposal wrench:

  1. Turn off the power to the garbage disposal unit by unplugging it or turning off the circuit breaker that supplies power to the unit. This is important for your safety.
  2. Locate the hexagonal-shaped hole on the bottom of the garbage disposal unit. This hole is where you will insert the garbage disposal wrench.
  3. Insert the garbage disposal wrench into the hole and turn it forth and back. You may need to apply some force to turn the wrench.
  4. Continue turning the wrench in both directions until you feel the impellers in the garbage disposal unit start to rotate freely. This will help to dislodge any clogs or debris that may be causing the unit to malfunction.
  5. Once the impellers are rotating freely, remove the wrench and turn the power back on to the garbage disposal unit.
demonstration of using a garbage disposal wrench
Illustration of using a garbage disposal wrench

It’s important to note that a garbage disposal wrench should only be used when the power is turned off to the unit, and should not be used to force a jammed garbage disposal to work.

Video of a garbage disposal wrench in action

All garbage disposals by InSinkErator and its related brands come with a hex hole. In fact, all of them come with an Allen wrench in the package. Just in case you lose it, you can use another 1/4 inch hex wrench to unjam them.

What if the garbage disposal doesn’t have a hex slot

Garbage disposals by certain brands like Moen and Waste King do not have hex slots under them. So, you cannot use an Allen wrench with them. Instead, you will have to use a specially designed wrench like this;

Image of a garbage disposal wrench
Image of a Waste King garbage disposal wrench. See on Amazon

This tool is generally called ‘garbage disposal wrench’. It doesn’t have any specific name yet.

While an Allen wrench is inserted into the hex slot at the bottom of the garbage disposal, a garbage disposal wrench is inserted into the grinding chamber of the disposal from the top, through the sinkhole. It locks onto the garbage disposal blades, and then it is rotated to unjam whatever is obstructing the blades’ free rotation.

How to know if a garbage disposal has a hex slot

To know whether your garbage disposal has a hex slot, check its bottom side. If there is a wrench slot, you will be able to find it at the very center of the bottom face.

Allen wrench slot under a garbage disposal
Allen wrench slot under a garbage disposal

The bottom side of those garbage disposals without a hex hole looks like this;

A garbage disposal without hex wrench slot
A garbage disposal without hex wrench slot

My name is Thomas Anderson, author of DisposalQA. I have 15 years experience working as a plumber in CA, and this is where I answer common questions about garbage disposals.