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The outer case is not rusted, and once the reset button is pushed it will "hum", so pretty sure it's just rusted where the blades are, and not a motor issue. (I hardly ever used it over the course of 12 years).

Can a garbage disposal that has been rusted over for years be "cleared" using Naval Jelly rust remover?

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    Definitely maybe! We can't see your disposal, so that's about the best we can do. Does it run when you turn it on? Is the rust inside in the working mechanism or outside on the casing? Lots of details, and some clear, focused pics would help a lot. Feel free to edit this all into your post. – FreeMan Nov 17 '20 at 19:32
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    On the bottom, outside, directly in the middle there should be a hex shaped fitting that will accept an allen wrench. Find an allen wrench that will fit in that hex and try to turn it either direction. If you can get it to turn then it may work once you break it loose. . – Platinum Goose Nov 17 '20 at 20:00
  • Humming can happen with a motor that is seized, also. I'm not sure how the motor could be spinning if the chopper blade isn't. – isherwood Nov 17 '20 at 20:11
  • shove a gallon of ice into it and run cold water if you get it grinding again; usually leaves the chamber squeaky clean and running quiet. – dandavis Nov 17 '20 at 20:22
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I think the acid in the Naval Jelly might corrode through the basin, I think it's some metal that really doesn't tolerate corrosives such as drain opener AT ALL and makes a huge caustic mess if you try it. Ask me how I know this.

With the power off, just try to get it moving with the garbage disposal wrench, which is just a 1/4" hex key with an offset to make it less knuckle busting.

garbage disposal wrench

It goes in the bottom of the disposal under the sink and turns the motor shaft directly. Try moving it in both directions. It might help to spray some WD-40 into the drain, it's hard to direct but just stick the straw down there and spray it all around.

There's also a wrench that's made to go in from the drain

other garbage disposal wrench

you could try that as well.

enter image description here

If you get it moving, just rotate it with the wrench some, rinse some water through, and repeat (literally rinse and repeat) until you don't feel any resistance. Then you can turn the power back on and see if it will run with just water.

If it will run with just water, turn off the water, immediately pour a cup of vegetable oil in there, and turn it off immediately. The cooking oil is not a bad improvised solvent. It won't harden and clog up the pipes.

Then you could try some more aggressive stuff like eggshells or ice cubes. If it gets through that, declare it fixed.

If it doesn't, I'd probably just replace it.

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  • Either something has gotten in there that "will not blend" and you must shut off the circuit breaker and reach in and remove it. Or
  • the unit has internal damage, possibly by whatever caused the rust, and needs a bench overhaul.

Neither one comes in a can.

What you're seeing is cosmetic. After firm wire-brushing, prime with Rustoleum 7769 Rusty Metal Primer, and paint with an alkyd topcoat... it'll look great and that'll feel good, but that does nothing to make it work better or worse.

As the railroads say, a filthy locomotive pulls just as hard as a clean one.

Given the cost/value of human labor and expertise in the North American market, versus the cost of new products built by robots in the third world, if an overhaul is required, count on it falling in the "not worth fixing" category.

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    Plus, 12 years old is in the for-better-or-worse-typical-appliance-lifetime range, whether it gets used much or not. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Nov 17 '20 at 21:01

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