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How to fix a pepper grinder

Updated February 21, 2017

Pepper grinders need regular maintenance to keep them working at their best. Explore possible problems with your grinder by taking it apart and investigating what part or parts need to be replaced or fixed. While it is disassembled clean all the working parts and complete the simple repair to get back to using your grinder for evenly ground fresh cracked pepper.

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  1. Start the disassembly process by removing the metal nut at the top of your grinder and setting it and the top aside on a flat surface. This opens up the chamber holding the whole peppercorns and will allow for further disassembly of the grinding mechanism.

  2. Slowly pour the peppercorns in the grinder into a microwave safe dish and examine them for moisture. Soft moist peppercorns often clog grinders and may be the sole source of your problems. Place your dish in the microwave for 30 seconds to dry out the peppercorns if you find they are moist.

  3. Turn your empty grinder upside down and use a screwdriver to remove the two screws holding the metal retainer plate in place and set the plate aside with your other parts. For some models this will require a Phillips head and for others a standard screwdriver.

  4. Pry out any blockage in your exposed grinder mechanism and look for any cracked or broken pieces that may need to be replaced. Pay careful attention to the positioning and order of any parts you remove for replacement so you will be able to install the new piece.

  5. Clean all your parts and the inside of you machine using alcohol-soaked cotton swabs to remove pepper dust and build-up from all accessible surfaces.

  6. Once the alcohol has dried completely put the whole thing back together for a test run. Re-secure the retaining plate on the underside of your grinder and refill the chamber with dry peppercorns before returning the upper section and screwing the nut on top. Twist your newly maintained grinder and adjust the tightness of the top nut to achieve a larger or finer grind.

  7. Tip

    Store your pepper grinder in a cool dry area to keep the peppercorns fresh between uses. Many grinder parts are compatible and can be switched out from other similar models to keep your favourite one working.


    Use the toothpick or a small brush to clear the grinder mechanism, never fingers. Some edges may be sharp or will pinch your skin when they are moved.

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Things You'll Need

  • Pepper grinder
  • Clean microwave safe dish
  • Screwdriver
  • Toothpick
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs

About the Author

Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.

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