How To Tighten Garbage Disposal Blades?

Garbage disposals do not have blades but blunt impeller arms that push broken food scraps down the drain. If you notice weird sounds in your unit, it may be leftover waste clogging the grinding chamber that you can clear by grinding some ice.

Garbage disposals are technological marvels that make our lives easier than we acknowledge. Imagine getting a plumber to fix your clogged drainage system THE THIRD TIME in a month! It could have been a nuisance.

John Hammes invented garbage disposals in 1927, and since then, they have been doing our kitchen’s dirty work for us. They are now a staple in every household. But it is not rare that these helpful machines need some help themselves.

This blog post will walk you through what garbage disposal is, how it works, and what you should do if you think it has a loose blade. We might even bust a few myths while we are on the topic. 

So let’s get grinding! (pun intended!)

how to tighten garbage disposal blades

What Is A Garbage Disposal?

The garbage disposal is usually electrically powered and attached beneath your kitchen sink. It collects any food particles you put down the drain and chop them into tiny pieces of roughly 2mm in diameter.

Hence, the larger food chunks do not block your home’s drainage pipes, saving you quite some trouble.

How Does A Garbage Disposal Work?

First, let’s list down a few of its essential parts;

  • Grinding chamber
  • Impeller disc
  • Shredder
  • Drain
  • Reset button

When you pass some food waste down a garbage disposal, it first goes into the grinding chamber, where the shredder pulverizes the food by forcefully throwing it against the chamber’s walls.

The broken food particles are then shoved down the drain by the arms of the impeller disc.

apple skins going down garbage disposal

Troubleshooting Garbage Disposal – Loose Blades?

A common misconception is that when a garbage disposal is malfunctioning, producing a rattling noise, is clogged, or grinding inefficiently, its disposal blades are loose.

First, they are not blades but rather blunt impeller arms. They do not cut food particles but only force them down the drain after they are shredded in the shredding chamber.

Second, these “blades” are supposed to be loose. How else do you expect them to move the way they do without having some room for motion?

Of course, with time, they may get a little looser than they were, but that is usually not the case, and even when it is, it doesn’t cause problems.

So how do you troubleshoot common garbage disposal problems? Simple, read below:

Blocked Garbage Disposal

When you notice your garbage disposal is running but is not grinding the waste, it usually means something is clogging its assembly.

Often, the machine may run and then abruptly stops or is unusually noisy.

If you suspect a clog, immediately switch off the appliance. Running a blocked machine may lead to its motor burning.

Hard fruit pits, bones, or cutlery pieces mistakenly thrown down the drain are the usual culprits in such a scenario. You can unclog your disposal by the following method:

How To Fix?

  • First and foremost, unplug the whole unit to avoid any unhappy incidents. You might also want to turn off the circuit breaker since if the machine accidentally runs while your fingers are in it, the outcome won’t be a good one.
  • Next, get down under your sink and look for a hexagonal hole at the bottom of your garbage disposal. It is where you will fix your hex-wrench that usually comes with the unit. (Don’t worry if you didn’t get one, you can find several online).
  • After your wrench fits the hole, move it back and forth with some force to loosen up the impeller arms.
  • Wear gloves and use tongs or tweezers to take out the jammed objects. Never insert your finger into the disposal!
  • Finally, hit the reset button to restore the operation.

Rattling Sounds In The Shredding Chamber

These rattling sounds often arise from the food particles that were not ground and are clogging the disposal’s shredding chamber. You can use the following steps to tackle this problem:

How To Fix?

  • Fill the assembly with some ice cubes and add a cup of salt too. The salt will keep the ice from melting too quickly by increasing its melting point.
  • The ice will lower the temperature across the whole unit and solidify any grease or starch that may be stuck.
  • Let the ice sit for an hour, then turn the disposal on.
  • The garbage disposal will grind the ice and, in effect, remove the starchy particles from the shredding chamber.
fix ratling sound in garbage disposal

Garbage Disposal Grinding Inefficiently

If your garbage disposal has lost its charm and is not doing its job as effectively as before, there may be a few reasons. First, you may be using insufficient water while the unit is operating, or the shredding blades may be broken.

How To Fix?

  • Run ample water to let the disposal grind efficiently.
  • If the blades are broken, it is time to replace your unit. Mending broken blades can be challenging and fruitless, so it is easier and cheaper to buy a new disposal assembly.

Dos And Don’ts For Garbage Disposals


  • Run water before and after you grind waste in the garbage disposal.
  • Use cold water with food as hot water can melt down fats and starch that could later trap in the assembly.
  • If you notice a foul smell, grind some lemon and orange peels.
  • Always read the user’s manual carefully before use.


  • Never put hard or fibrous food scraps like bones or fruit pits in your garbage disposal.
  • Refrain from putting too much starchy food like potatoes.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaner.
  • Avoid overfilling.

FAQs On How To Tighten Garbage Disposal Blades

Can I put eggshells in my garbage disposal to sharpen its blades?

Garbage disposal does not have blades, but rather blunt impeller arms. So putting eggshells, chicken bones, or ice won’t help but could clog it instead.

Will rice or pasta clog my garbage disposal?

While a single grain of rice or noodle may not be harmful, huge quantities of rice or pasta will have starch that could jam your garbage disposal.

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