Garbage disposals can be finicky appliances, so it makes sense to read the directions that come with yours and take extra care to make sure you don’t do anything that can cause a clog, jam or failure.
When used properly, a garbage disposal is a nifty gadget that sits under a sink and shreds up food waste so it can exit your home through the plumbing instead of in the trash can. But you can’t put just anything in a garbage disposal if you want maximum life from it.
Here is a Video on How a Garbage Disposal Works
Here are some rules to live by if you want to include a garbage disposal in your life:
Avoid the hard stuff. You can’t put bones, fruit pits or any kind of shells — oyster or peanut — down the garbage disposal. If you do, a plumbing service call is soon to follow.
Forget the fiber. While vegetable fiber is great for your digestive system, it isn’t so good for disposals. Among the fibers that can choke up a disposal are those that come from bananas, celery, corn cobs, onion skins and more.
Keep it small. Small pieces grind up better than large ones, so take the time to cut larger pieces of food debris into smaller pieces before putting them down the drain. Things like large pieces of melon rind and citrus rinds can cause a real problem with your delicate appliance.
If it isn’t food, it goes in the trash. Period. That means paper, plastic wrapping and everything else in your home are destined for the trash can or the recycle bin and don’t belong in your home’s drain pipes.
The water should always be running. When the disposal is on, the cold water should always be on too. Hot water can actually melt or expand some debris and make things worse, so stick with cold water when using the disposal. And keep the water running for 30 seconds or a minute after using the disposal to clear the drain.
Keep it clean to avoid odors. There’s no reason not to actually clean your garbage disposal. Never put your hand in or near the disposal, but with it off and the switch guarded so that no one turns it on, you can use a bottle brush or other stiff brush to clean the inside of your disposal, perhaps with dish detergent or another household cleaner.
Grind some ice and citrus. Although your brand may recommend against this, you can dislodge odor-causing food particles and other debris from your unit by grinding a few ice cubes. To further help eliminate odors, try grinding a few citrus peels cut into very small pieces. This can help freshen and clean the inside of the unit.
Handle jams correctly. Again, never put your hands into a garbage disposal. Always turn the power off when a jam occurs, then look under the sink. You’ll find a space on the bottom of the unit where you can insert an Allen wrench and manually turn the motor. After turning a few revolutions, try the power again. If the unit is still jammed, try pressing the reset button or turning the unit off and then back on at the circuit breaker.
Serious jams and new garbage disposal installations require the assistance of a professional plumber to ensure proper functioning. Working on a garbage disposal requires a strong understanding of plumbing as well as electricity, and doing it yourself can be very dangerous if you’re not an expert.
Use your garbage disposal properly and keep it clean, but leave the real repair work to a plumber.