I have a waste disposal, and what looks like a screw head, which is jammed in the waste disposal unit (an Insinkerator 55 if it matters).

enter image description here

This means as the machine is turned on, it makes a banging noise as the 'blades' hit it. I'd like to remove this obstacle but it's jammed tight.

The problem is, the angle. As per this image (red X shows where the screw is)

enter image description here

You can see, the sink is at the top and then insinkerator is below, but the angle of the hole means I'm limited to what I can get in. The screw head is fairly flush, I can't really 'grip' it with pliers and when I do, it doesn't really budge.

I have been whacking at it with a chisel and hammer, and it won't move (hoping to snap the metal) !

I've tried using a dremel tool and attempting to 'sand' or 'file' it away, but are there any other options for situations like this (other than replacing the entire unit).

I also don't seem to be able to take the unit apart so it appears as if my only option is from going in from the top!

10 Answers 10


I just had this happen. Screw was in disposal when I ran it and jammed the disposal. Took a hex tool and went up through the bottom. Rocked it for about 20 seconds and the screw came free. Whew!


I had exactly the same problem this morning. The screw was jammed tight just like the original photo above. I purchased the tool but could not move the screw at first.

What I did was reverse the disposal very slowly using the blades and my fingers, and after every slight movement I would check to see if the screw had a position where it was looser After about 3 minutes I found that position--then used the tool and boom the screw was out. Thanks!

enter image description here

  • 2
    Rather than using fingers to move the blades -- even with the breaker off -- I'd be inclined to use a hex wrench in the socket provided at the base of the drive shaft for unjamming the grinder. (Basically, @janetkennard's suggestion.) But hey, it worked!
    – keshlam
    May 16, 2023 at 14:00

In the end, I kept on sanding it down (sanding and cutting with a dremel) until it eventually became thin enough I could crack it (snap it) with a chisel.


Get yourself a flexible claw gripper to fish it out. It'll work wonders.


Flexible claw gripper
(source: homedepot.com)

Flexible claw gripper for reaching small items in tight spaces


Underneath the unit in the center is hole,unit should have Came with an Allen wrench. Power switch off insert Allen In center turn slightly until it moves then try prying Screw out,you may have to repeat steps a couple of Times.


Keep rocking it back and forth until you can get the disposal to turn on even for a second. Then do it over and over. Eventually the screw head broke off once I got it running for about 5-10 seconds. It was loud but it worked and now it’s perfectly fine.


I used a flathead to loosen around the screw just prying. Then I got a Phillips drill bit and put my hand in and unscrewed the screw.


It's not obvious, but have you removed the unit from the under the sink first?

It's not that hard (based on the last Insinkerator I removed and replaced more than a decade ago). And it will be safer and easier to work on it.

Depending on how this one is constructed, you could get to it from the other end and push it through.


I just had this problem with our seven years old Insinkerator 56. Despite an intermittent loud grating sound the plate with the two cutting pieces would spin freely by hand. On pulling out the black flexible splash ring and checking with a torch there was something caught in one of the larger triangular shaped apertures at about 7 O’clock. A lot of time was spent trying to lever at a countersunk screw head but it was hopelessly jammed with the head bent at an angle. Screwdrivers and a tack removing tool didn’t have enough purchase. Next stage was an attempt to use a hammer and long screwdriver to force it through the gap into what must be a voiding chamber. The result was the plate wouldn’t budge even when using the Insinkerator wrench in the hole at the bottom of the unit. At this stage it looked like a new waste disposal would be needed. As there was nothing to lose, I kept whacking at the screw head and then levered occasionally as best I could with a screwdriver. I tried to stop the screwdriver blade from damaging the stainless-steel band with the apertures in. Suddenly the head of the small gauge countersunk screw snapped off. This took a long time. The grinding noise is gone though I wonder what happened to the rest of the screw. Removing the unit might have helped but having replaced one years ago I know it’s heavy going unless you are strong and agile or have somebody to assist. There’s also rather a lot of complex plastic piping because for us a dishwasher feeds into the system too. How lucky you are will depend on the size and composition of the screw. If it is bent and has a countersunk head then it’s going to be difficult. All the abuse I’ve given the waste disposal to remove the screw will likely shorten its life but Insinkerators are built like tanks. Good luck.


Had the exact same problem myself. Tried pliers, needle nose, flathead screwdriver to loosen the screw, and only the last one got it to where it could spin a little.

In the end, I decided to use a smaller profile crow bar, about 1 foot long, and wedge the chiseled end under the screw head. I had a larger metal handheld sledge hammer, and I gently tapped down on the crowbar to chisel under the screw head. I did this about 5 times, then checked to make sure I didn't damage anything, and continued the same process at multiple angles. This ended up loosening the screw a bunch, but it still wouldn't come out.

But at this point, I figured the screw was pinched enough from the end of the crow bar, that the disposal blade might be strong enough to cut the head of the screw off. Since I had loosened the screw from the hammering, the blade spun at full speed when on.

Sure enough, I let her fly, and SNAP! The head of the screw went flying! I was able to extract the head, and the body of the screw fell down into the incinerator, never to be found.

The disposal purrs like a kitten now. I checked for leaks under the sink to be safe, and there were none that I could see. So this is the best solution I could think of. It worked for me, so I hope it works for someone else. Although, I would suggest using an actual chisel instead of a small crow bar. But that's all I had at the time.

Hope this saves someone a couple $$$.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.