At Staten Plumbing, we want to help homeowners avoid costly mistakes and ensure the proper operation of your home's plumbing systems. Unfortunately many homeowners see the words "garbage disposal" and think that means you can put any garbage down the drain - out of sight and out of mind. That is simply not the case. The garbage disposal in your kitchen sink is made for light-duty food scraps only. Anything more and you run the risk of clogging your drain or breaking the disposal completely, requiring replacement. Of course Staten Plumbing offers drain cleaning and garbage disposal replacement services, however we would rather prevent those things from happening in the first place. Below are a few must-follow guidelines to keep your garbage disposal running smoothly — and the plumber far away.
The motor in a garbage disposal is measured in horsepower, so it should be strong enough to handle anything, right? Well, not quite. Here's what you need to know to banish jams and floods, and keep the machine in tiptop condition.
Food scraps are the only things you should send down the disposal. Keep other materials out, or you risk causing damage — no paper, wood, glass or plastic.
To keep everything running smoothly, always use plenty of cold water. Run the tap before, during and 10 to 15 seconds after operating the disposal. Why cold? It helps congeal any grease and fats so they don't build up in pipes. Never run the disposal dry.
You know those scraps that are so fibrous that you can't chew through them? The tough ends of celery, the bottoms of asparagus, or those rubbery, stringy banana peels? Your disposal has a hard time with them too. Toss them on the compost pile instead.
Eggshells and coffee grounds, in small amounts, are OK (the latter can even help freshen the drain’s aroma). But unless you have your plumber on retainer, don't send bones, nuts, seeds or hard fruit pits down the chute.
The disposal works best on small bits of scraps at a time — don't make a huge pile and then force it down all at once. Similarly, the odd potato peel is fine, but avoid sending large piles of peels down the disposal — they can clog the drain or even wrap around the blades.
When you're done for the night, run the disposal and toss down two lemon halves. The astringent juices and naturally antimicrobial oils will help counter odors. And throw in a few ice cubes to help knock debris buildup off the blades’ edges.
Do we have to say it? Never reach into the garbage disposal. Yes, even if it's turned off. (The very thing that's clogging the action can suddenly dislodge and release the blades — ouch.) If you need to retrieve something, cut the power and try tongs, needle-nose pliers or even chopsticks to dislodge it — just never your digits, unless you're into subtraction.