Garbage Disposal Basics

What Is A Garbage Disposal?

A garbage disposal is an appliance that mounts under your kitchen sink and grinds up food waste that is placed down the drain. It can be a very convenient appliance to have in your house, but it can also be frustrating when it is not working properly. As a Plumber in Cape Coral, Florida I come across a lot of garbage disposal problems and most of the time they occur simply because the customer wasn’t educated on proper disposal use. Garbage disposals are one of the most abused appliances in a kitchen. That’s why I decided to write an article about garbage disposal basics to share everything you need to know about the proper use of your disposal.

How Does A Garbage Disposal Work?

The disposal has a grinding chamber with sharp impeller blades inside that spin around extremely fast to cut up anything dropped down into the disposal. Nothing but food waste should ever be placed in the disposal because hard objects could damage or jam the inside of the disposal.

When used properly, the disposal chops up the food waste and flushes it down the drain with water through a pipe connected to the side of the disposal. There should never be any drainage issues unless the disposal is overloaded or used improperly.

Garbage Disposal Tips

Here are some essential tips that will help ensure you are using your disposal properly and avoid having any problems.

  1. Always run cold water while running the disposal. The disposal should not run dry. Also, the cold water will help solidify any grease or oils so the disposal can chop them up and flush them out.
  2. Speaking of grease and oil, Neither should ever be placed in your drains. Ever. Pour it outside, in a glass jar or in the trash. When grease is placed in the drains it will harden in your drain system and cause problems later on because it will accumulate over time.
  3. Do Not put anything in the disposal that is not biodegradable.
  4. Never overload the disposal. Always add food waste a little bit at a time until it is all gone.
  5. Let the water and grinder keep running until the disposal has finished the grinding process and let the water run for another 30 seconds after that. This way the extra water will flush out all the food bits and they wont accumulate in the drain pipe just below the sink.
  6. Understand the difference between your disposal and a trash can, and make sure to avoid putting just anything in the disposal. If you have to question an item than it probably shouldn’t go in the disposal
  7. Make sure everyone in your house, including guests, is educated on the proper usage of the disposal. Don’t let Aunt Edna ruin Thanksgiving by shoving turkey bones down the disposal.

Don’t Put These Things In Your Garbage Disposal

  1. Pasta
  2. Shrimp shells
  3. Bones
  4. Nuts
  5. Fats and oil
  6. Grease
  7. Corn husks
  8. Banana peels
  9. Onion skins
  10. Asparagus
  11. Potato peels
  12. Rice
  13. Artichokes
  14. Fruit pits
  15. Any other starchy food
  16. Anything in large amounts

However, these are some of the waste materials which really should never be put into your disposal:

  1. Broken glass
  2. Shells
  3. Cigarette butts
  4. Glass
  5. Plastic
  6. Metal
  7. Paper

*It’s worth emphasizing that pasta is the #1 thing that people clog their disposal with.

How To Clean A Garbage Disposal

Sometimes grime and sludge can build-up on the inside of the disposal over time and cause unwanted odors. To remove this build-up, you have a couple different options:

One of the best ways to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal is by sprinkling baking soda in it. Let the baking soda sit in the unit for a few minutes, and then rinse it with a cup of white vinegar. It is going to create the bubbly volcano effect, which looks pretty exciting. Now let the mixture sit in the unit for at least 5 minutes. Then run the hot water down the disposal and let everything rinse thoroughly while you run the disposal.

Another way to give your disposal a quick cleaning is to chop up ice. Just stuff a couple handfuls of ice in the disposal, turn on the water and then run the disposal to chop up all of the ice.

For more information about cleaning your disposal check out our article How To Clean A Garbage Disposal

How To Unlock A Garbage Disposal

The most common disposal problems are related to jams. Disposals can be pretty easy to fix when they get stuck, if you know what you’re doing. However, if you are going to ignore a jam for an extended period of time, then this will undoubtedly lead you to a drain clog. So it best to take care of jams right away.

Follow the steps below to get your disposal working properly again:

  1. Unplug your disposal unit or make sure to turn off the circuit breaker that is serving it.
  2. Look at the hex-shaped hole under the unit. Get a 1/4” inch hex wrench that can fit into this hole properly.
  3. Fit the wrench into the hole and force it back and forth a few times to free the impellers.
  4. Once the lodged object is loose, use a shop vacuum or any other type of vacuum with a long hose and stuck the hose down into the disposal to suck out any loose debris.

This process will definitely help you in removing the foreign object from your disposal and get it working properly again.

How to reset it if it trips the internal breaker?

Sometimes after you un-jam your disposal you’ll find that it doesn’t seem to have power. It’s possible the internal breaker of the disposal tripped. To reset it and restore power to the disposal there is usually a red button on the underside of the disposal. Simply press that button to restore power.

We hope you found this article useful but if you find you still need help with your disposal always feel free to give us a call or text at (239) 203-7047.

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