If you have a garbage disposal, there’s a chance you might simply dump your remaining food and scraps down the drain on a daily basis. It seems like a no-brainier: the garbage disposal is easy and keeps food from stinking up your garbage can—but did you know you’re probably overusing your garbage disposal? In fact, overuse can result in some huge problems for your plumbing system.
What Your Garbage Disposal is Meant For
Your garbage disposal is meant to shred limited amounts of food waste into small pieces to help keep your kitchen clean and sanitary. It’s nice being able to rid your home of a noxious smelling food item that would really stink up your garbage can and the rest of the kitchen.
When running your garbage disposal, it’s essential to use cold running water rather than hot to keep the unit from overheating and to help flush the system. Feed the food into the system slowly, rather than all at once, to prevent it from being overburdened. For the most part, your garbage disposal is intended for softer foods, but there are some exceptions to this rule.
What Your Garbage Disposal is Not Meant For
There are a large number of foods that should never make its way down into your garbage disposal. Some things you should throw into your garbage can, rather than your sink, include:
- Hard shells from eggs and shellfish
- Corn husks
- Fruit pits
- Peels from potatoes and bananas
- Onion skins
- Unpopped kernels of popcorn
- Non-trash items
It’s also important to note you should never throw large quantities of food down your garbage disposal, even if they happen to be considered safe for your unit.
Plumbing Problems That Occur
When you use your garbage disposal the wrong way, a number of plumbing problems occur. The drain and pipes leading from your garbage disposal can get clogged to the point where no water can move through the pipes; grease is often a major contributing factor to these clogged drains. Additionally, the blades can become damaged or wrapped up—commonly caused by onion peels—which makes them ineffective for future uses; the ineffective disposal ultimately creates a clog in your system as well. Finally, the unit can overheat, which may require it to be repaired or replaced.
Fixing Garbage Disposal Problems
There are some quick, do-it-yourself tips to keep maintain your garbage disposal. If your blades are coated with food residue, put ice into your disposal. While this trick won’t sharpen the blades (a common misconception), it will help clear the system. You may even want to freeze some lemon juice into cubes to help with the cleaning and deodorizing process. Odor is a bit of an issue for some units, so be sure to keep it clean on the outside rubber portion, and you can run citrus peels through it to help with the potential for a bad smell.
Also, make sure to keep all of the materials that came with your garbage disposal if possible. A manual can come in handy in a pinch when things are going wrong, and can help diagnose the issue. There should also be a tool that came with your unit that can be used to unjam your unit if it freezes up.
When to Call in the Professionals
Although there are some maintenance tricks you can do yourself, ultimately you may need to call professional help for your safety—and to save time and money. If you have clogged drains, a frozen motor, or a mysterious issue caused by your garbage disposal, call a professional. A plumber will be able to best advise you on how to handle the particular problem you have going on, and fix it or install a new disposal unit if necessary.
Moon Valley Plumbing is here for you in your time of need when the frustration of dealing with your garbage disposal has gotten to be too much for you. Let us be your go-to source for all of your plumbing and garbage disposal needs. Contact us today to learn more about our service.