Garbage Disposals

If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen’s sink, you may not realize there are easy ways to keep it running smoothly. Here are some tried and true tips for keeping this hard-working appliance in top shape.

Cut pieces up first

The smaller the pieces, the less strain you put on your garbage disposal. For example, cut a lime into small wedges rather than putting a whole lime in the disposal. If you don’t want to take the time to cut large food scraps into small pieces, throw them in the trash instead of risking a plumbing problem.

Put the right things down the disposal

You want to avoid anything that is too hard: bones, fish shells, nut shells or fruit pits. They can cause too much wear and tear on your disposal and reduce its life span.

Don’t put foods that will get tangled or stuffed into your plumbing either. Here are the worst offenders:

  • Peelings from bananas or potatoes

  • Husks or cobs from corn

  • Celery (chop into small pieces first)

  • Onion skins

  • Artichoke leaves

  • Egg shells

  • Coffee grounds or filters

The good news is that everything in this list is compostable.

Remember that trash belongs in the trash can

Some people place non-food items in the garbage disposal, and that’s a bad idea. Don’t put rubber bands, plastic packaging, sponges, flower arrangements, hair, or grease in the disposal. If you do you may end up with a clog, leak, or other mess down the line.

Choose the right water temperature when running the disposal

Use cold water while the food is going down and then 30 to 60 seconds afterward to help it flush through the pipes. Hot water can make the elements overheat and melt fats which will later solidify and create blockage down the line.

Establish a cleaning routine

Many people don’t realize that a garbage disposal needs regular cleaning, just like any other household appliance. Always be sure that the disposal is turned off before you clean. Wipe off the rubber guard with an anti-bacterial cleanser. Don’t use bleach or heavy-duty cleaning agents, because they can corrode the parts and render them useless.

To clean the blades (but not sharpen them, as many believe), simply toss some ice and several wedges of lemon into the disposal and run it with cold water.

If your disposal gets jammed, use extra caution

Never use your hand to retrieve an item or loosen a jam. A pair of tongs is much safer.

You can use a hex-key wrench in the underside of the disposer to turn it back and forth and loosen the jam. Then push the reset button under the disposer to restart it.

From the top side, loosen the jam by inserting two wooden dowels in an X-shape. Move them back and forth until the jam is loose.

Give us a call if you get stuck

If your disposal is jammed and you can’t fix it yourself, the technicians at Wilson Plumbing & Heating, Inc. are ready to help. We can see if your plumbing is blocked and fix the jam. If your garbage disposal has worn out, we can replace it for you. The basic models start around $60, or you can upgrade to models with more insulation and more power. We will advise the best model for your family.