A garbage disposal can be a great addition to your kitchen, but it’s important to always use the unit properly. The biggest mistake many people make is treating their garbage disposal like a trash can and assuming it can handle all scraps and solid waste. Doing this will greatly increase the chance of your garbage disposal breaking down or your sink getting clogged. Today, we will show you some simple tips to help you get the most out of your garbage disposal and prevent it from having issues.

Don’t Overload Your Garbage Disposal

Overloading a garbage disposal will always make it more likely to clog up or become jammed. It’s always best if you put no more than one cup of food scraps in the disposal at a time. You should also listen to the disposal and make sure it’s mostly empty before adding more food. It’s also important to only put smaller chunks down the disposal, so you may need to chop up any larger pieces or peels.

Never Put Hard, Starchy or Fibrous Foods Down the Disposal

Starchy foods like potatoes, potato peels, pasta and rice should never go in a garbage disposal. When the disposal pulverizes these foods, it creates a thick, starchy mass that can easily get stuck and clog the drain. You should also never put any fibrous foods in your garbage disposal, or else it will be likely to jam up.

Things like celery, banana peels, corn silk and husks can easily get wrapped around the blade or impeller and prevent it from spinning. This can be a serious issue as it could cause the motor to burn out if you keep trying to run the disposal when it’s jammed.

Hard items like bones, seafood shells, fruit stones and pits should also always go in the trash and never down the disposal. The disposal won’t be able to chop up hard food waste completely, and it could clog the drain. Hard items can also dull or damage the blades, making the disposal much less effective and more likely to fail sooner.

Seeds and most nuts are typically soft enough for the disposal to break up, but they should also always go in the trash. If you put peanuts or any other nut in a garbage disposal, they would be completely pulverized and turn into nut butter that would stick inside the disposal and likely clog the drain.

You should also avoid putting eggshells into your disposal. Although the shells are brittle enough that they’d break up easily, the slimy membrane inside the shell will often stick to the blades and bind them up or get stuck in the drain, potentially causing a clog. Onion skins should also never go in the disposal as the slimy inner part of the skin can do the same thing.

Dispose of Fat, Oil and Grease Properly

Any type of fat, oil and grease should always be disposed of properly and never go down the drain or in the garbage disposal. Fat, oil and grease are some of the most significant contributors to clogged drains and sewer lines. When they go down your plumbing, they will usually solidify into a sticky mass that will get stuck to the insides of the pipes. This mass may then collect food bits and other solids and slowly clog the pipe.

Don’t Run the Disposal Dry

Garbage disposals only work well when water flows through them while they’re running. The disposal will still chop food scraps up without water, but the drain can quickly clog up if there isn’t water constantly flushing everything down the drain. Running the disposal dry can also cause the motor to start overheating and put it at risk of burning out.

You should always make sure to turn the water on before running the disposal and then leave the water running for at least 10 to 15 seconds after shutting the disposal off. Doing so will make the disposal work more effectively and greatly lessen the chances of clogs.

Only Use Cold Water

When running your garbage disposal, you should only ever use cold water. Cold water will ensure that any fats that go into the disposal stay solid, which means the fat will be chopped up and washed down the drain. If you use hot water, fat and grease will melt and get stuck inside the disposal and drain pipe more easily.

It’s okay to put hot water down the disposal when it isn’t running, but you should always use cold water when it is on. It is also important to never try to clean the disposal by pouring boiling water into it, as this can damage the drain pipe or cause it to warp.

Don’t Let the Disposal Sit Unused for Too Long

Running your garbage disposal at least once every few days can help to keep it working more effectively and last longer. If the disposal sits unused for too long, rust can start to form on the blades and quickly cause them to become dull. Running the disposal regularly also helps to flush out any food particles that may have gotten stuck inside it the last time you used it. If you don’t run the disposal regularly, the food bits can start to rot and make the disposal and drain smell bad.

Clean the Disposal Regularly

Cleaning your garbage disposal every two weeks or so will also help prevent bad odors and ensure the blades remain in good shape. The easiest and most effective way to clean a garbage disposal is to use ice cubes and a couple of tablespoons of rock salt. The ice and salt work to clean the blade and remove anything that is stuck inside the disposal.

After adding the ice and salt, you should turn the disposal on and let it run until all of the ice is pulverized. You can then shut the disposal off and flush it with warm water to make sure everything washes down the drain.

Vinegar and baking soda are also effective for cleaning garbage disposal. In this case, you’ll want to add them to the disposal and let the mixture sit and foam for a few minutes. You can then turn the disposal on and thoroughly flush it out with cold water. Once you’ve cleaned the unit with ice or vinegar, you may also want to run a few slices of lemon through it, as this will also help to keep it smelling fresh and clean.

Always Use the Wrench if Your Disposal Is Jammed

Your garbage disposal should have come with an Allen wrench designed to be used whenever the unit jams and the blades won’t spin. When unjamming your disposal, insert the wrench into the hole on the bottom of the unit. You should then turn the wrench a full circle counterclockwise and then a full circle clockwise. The wrench works to spin the shaft on the motor, which will usually loosen whatever is causing it to jam up. Before using the wrench, make sure to unplug the disposal just to be safe.

If the disposal is still jammed, you may need to hire a plumber to get it working again. Never stick your fingers inside the disposal, as this can obviously be extremely dangerous.

If you have any issues with your garbage disposal or are looking to install one in your home, Laury Heating Cooling & Plumbing is here to help. We specialize in a full range of residential plumbing services, and our HVAC technicians can also assist with all of your heating and air conditioning needs. For more information on our range of plumbing, heating and cooling services across South Jersey, give Laury Heating Cooling & Plumbing a call today.

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