The $0.48 Tool That Saves Property Owners Hundreds Of Dollars
“What’s the number one maintenance call you receive from tenants?” I pose this question to every seasoned property manager I’ve met and the answer is UNIVERSALLY the same – Busted Garbage Disposal.
Maybe the tenant dropped something down the sink that didn’t belong there like silverware, celery stalks, or aquarium gravel. Sometimes, the darn thing will seize up after not having water run through the sink for a few days. Whatever the case, the garbage disposal is the one kitchen appliance you can almost guarantee will routinely stop working in every unit you own or manage.
I was surprised to hear how many of these property managers dispatch handymen or plumbers every time they get this call. It’s been my experience that 9 times out of 10 you can take a 1/4″ (or 5/16″ in some cases) hex wrench and have the problem resolved in two minutes or less WITHOUT having to reach down into the sink.
First, turn the garbage disposal on. If you don’t hear a humming noise you need to check and make sure the unit is plugged in. If it is, look for a small button on the bottom of the disposal. Sometimes, when the disposal seizes up, a switch is tripped cutting the power to the unit. The button on the bottom is the reset button. With the disposal off, press this reset button. Turn on the disposal again. If you hear the blades spinning, BAM…you’re done. More likely, you will hear a humming noise, but not the loud roar of the spinning blades. At this point, you should turn the disposal off and unplug it as a safety measure. Grab the 1/4″ hex wrench and find the hole in the bottom middle of the disposal motor (Remember, none of these steps require you to place your hand down the drain. The garbage disposal motor is accessed by opening the cabinets under your sink). Place the 1/4″ hex wrench in the hole and turn. This may be extremely hard to do at first, depending on how seized or obstructed the blades are. But with enough elbow grease, you should be able to crank the wrench hard enough to unfreeze the blades. Run the water and give it several turns of the wrench in both directions. You should begin to feel it move freely. Once you do, pull the wrench out, plug the disposal back in and turn it on with the water running.
As I mentioned earlier, 9 times out of 10, this has works for me and my tenants. A professional plumber may charge you upwards of $80 for the fix. A handyman may charge $35 or $40. Save yourself the hassle. On every property you own or manage, tape a 1/4″ hex wrench to the side of the disposal motor. When you get that inevitable call from the tenant…email him this link and go back to whatever you were doing.