A garbage disposal is a wonderful modern convenience. You may not think twice about its maintenance until it stops working. Like any appliance in your kitchen, your garbage disposal will have a longer life if it’s well cared for. Unfortunately, many people use their disposals like trash cans, not realizing they aren’t made for certain items. Proper garbage disposal maintenance only takes a few seconds each day. Here are ways to ensure your appliance is working at its best.
Choose the Right Garbage Disposal
All garbage disposals work by grinding food waste into smaller particles that can be flushed away through the drainpipe. One mistake many people make when buying a garbage disposal unit is failing to consider the size of the house and how many people live there.
A large house with several people requires more work for a garbage disposal. It’s important to get a unit large enough and with enough power to deal with the amount your family throws in it.
Garbage disposals can range from only 1/3 horsepower all the way up to a full horsepower engine. The lowest-power units aren’t made to last as long as their larger counterparts, and 1/3 horsepower won’t be able to handle family-sized tasks—although it might be perfect for two people. Smart homeowners should research and compare before buying to make sure they choose a unit that will last and do the job for them.
Do These! Garbage Disposal Maintenance Tips
Maintenance is essential for any appliance in your home, and the garbage disposal is no exception. Here are some tips to keep your disposal running its best:
Run Plenty of Cold Water Through
When using the disposal, it’s essential to run cold water through it to help food move. Many homeowners believe hot water is better, but cold water is particularly important because it keeps grease and fat solid, preventing it from becoming liquid and sticking to drain pipes.
Keep the water running an extra few minutes to prevent food from lingering in the pipes below your sink.
Clean with Citrus Regularly
A garbage disposal can get messy, so cut up a lemon or orange every few weeks and feed it through the disposal with water. The natural oils of the citrus help clean your pipes and rid them of nasty odors that may have built up. You should also wipe the rubber inside the center of the sink on a regular basis to keep food particles from accumulating and causing odors.
If you find yourself without lemons or oranges on hand, citrus-scented dish soap can also be used. With the cold water and garbage disposal running, pour a bit of the detergent down the drain to get rid of those smells.
Run Ice Through the System
Putting ice and water down the disposal will help scour food off the blades. Your disposal will work better with cleaner blades, which is why you may hear that ice “sharpens” disposal blades even though no physical sharpening occurs. Ice cubes made from vinegar or lemon juice will also give your cleaning effort an extra boost.
If you’re running your garbage disposal with ice, we recommend using a drain stopper while you do it. Ice can fly back out of the disposal during this method and can be dangerous.
Don’t Do These Things!
To keep your appliance running smoothly, steer clear from the things that cause common garbage disposal problems:
Avoid Dumping Large Amounts of Food
If you force too many things down the disposal at once, it will choke up and stop working. Large pieces of food can also lead to a blockage, so cut up big items, like peels, into smaller pieces before throwing them in the disposal.
Don’t Dump Fibrous or Starchy Foods in the Disposal
Fibrous foods like corn husks and banana peels can damage your disposal quickly. The fibers from the food get tangled in the disposal and cause a mess (like hair in a drain). Starchy food like potatoes can build up a gummy paste that also will clog the pipes. Coffee grounds are another food item to avoid; they often lead to obstructions.
Don’t Pour Grease Into the Disposal
Grease and similar items, like fat, easily cause clogs in drain pipes and garbage disposals. Dump these in the trash instead of pouring them down your drain.
Don’t Use the Disposal for Non-Food Items
The disposal is a sturdy piece of machinery, but it isn’t equipped to dispose of metals, plastics, glass, or anything that isn’t food. Even some food items like large bones and pits are too hard for disposals to manage.
Never Stick Your Hand in the Disposal
It should go without saying, but putting your hand in the disposal is dangerous. Even if the unit appears to be clogged, you may dislodge something with your hand that starts the blades again. If you have a serious problem or find something in the disposal that shouldn’t be there, call a professional.
How Can I Tell My Garbage Disposal Is Clogged?
While you’re likely to notice a problem with the garbage disposal when water doesn’t drain, there are noticeable warning signs before you reach that point.
Watch out for:
- Unpleasant odors from the sink
- Water draining slowly
- Odd sounds from the disposal
Leftover food and other particles can get stuck just below the blades, causing many of these issues, but other problems may point to a foreign object within the appliance or be signs that it’s reaching the end of its life.
A garbage disposal is a wonderful, under-appreciated kitchen appliance. It makes cleaning up after a meal so much easier. But since it’s out of sight, it’s often only cared for when something goes wrong. Maintaining your disposal and taking simple preventative steps can help ensure your appliance works its best and lasts as long as it should.
Garbage disposal installation and repair is something we’re happy to take care of! If you need a new disposal installed or are experiencing problems with your current appliance, give us a call at 972-395-2597, and we’ll come take a look.
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