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Tips and Tricks: Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals are an often afterthought in the plumbing world, meaning it can take some serious hits. Although it’s best to schedule an inspection appointment with us before attempting a major DIY fix, a lot of common plumbing problems can be prevented with just a little knowledge and some hands-on work. And once the party’s over and you can breathe again, give us a call. We’ll work on any current issues and prevent any future problems from occurring.

Garbage Disposals: Tips and Tricks

#1: Don’t let guests use the disposal.

Some systems are more finicky than others, and allowing anyone to put anything down one is a recipe for disaster. Telling guests to just put all trash straight in the garbage, or delegating a couple of people to run the dishwashing and disposal, can help ensure nothing goes down the drain that shouldn’t.

#2: Don’t put these items down the drain!

Glass, metal, plastic, or paper (i.e. cigarettes, stickers from produce, etc.)
Grease, oil, or fat (pour it into metal or glass containers and save it for later or throw it in the trash)
Stringy and/or starchy vegetables (corn husks, potato skins et cetera; while likely safe in small amounts, it’s better to avoid using the disposal with them)
Pasta or rice (foods that can expand when introduced to water)
Hard objects (i.e. animal bones, fruit pits, kernels and seeds)
Large quantities of anything (that just puts you at more of a risk for a clog. Dispose slowly!)

#3: Think about breakfast.

Some disposal manuals say to absolutely avoid putting egg shells and coffee grounds down the disposal. Others disagree, saying eggshells can sharpen blades and coffee can improve the smell.
Either way, eggshells and coffee grounds can be culprits for clogging drains and pipes, especially with a septic tank. Walk on the safe side and try to avoid egg shells and coffee grounds. That being said, we’re humans and we can forget…so they should be okay in small quantities.

#4: Do these for your garbage disposals…

Run the disposal with cold running water, which helps solidify grease and oil
When done with the disposal, run hot water for 10-15 seconds
Break large pieces down into smaller ones and grind them one at a time, rather than dumped all at once
Use the disposal frequently to keep the blades sharp and prevent rust and corrosion
Try to keep small objects away from the edges of the sink to prevent them from falling into the disposal
Try to remove jewelry/important small objects before working around the sink to prevent them from getting lost in the disposal

#5: …not these.

Don’t turn the water or garbage disposal off until the grinding noises are done
Don’t use harsh chemicals to clean the disposal, like bleach or drain cleaner
Avoid putting any of the materials listed above down the disposal
Remember you have a garbage can for a reason…a disposal is not synonymous with trash
Never use your hands or utensils to reach down the disposal — if you need to remove something, shut off the electrical power first and always use pliers or tongs

Garbage Disposal Quick Cleaning Tips

#1: Ice and citrus

Does your disposal smell…unpleasant? That can be solved easily. Throw a handful of ice into the disposal along with a wedge or two of citrus fruit (no more than half a lemon, for instance), run the disposal until the grinding stops, and you’re good to go! The ice works to remove debris on the walls of the drain and sharpens the disposal blades, while the citrus works to release nice, natural smells.

#2: Baking soda and vinegar

Want a deeper sense of clean? Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain and follow it with a slow pour of a half cup of vinegar. We tend to just use white vinegar — we’ll save the red wine and sherry for cooking. Let the solution sit until the fizziness has stopped, then run hot water down the drain (for bonus points, use boiling water).
If you want to go the extra mile, follow with the ice and citrus routine. If you have a dual basin sink, it’s best to clean the drains at the same time.

#3: A toothbrush

Not the one you’re currently using! Take an old toothbrush to clean out the slimy, nasty gunk of the splash guard.
Make sure the disposal is turned off at the source.
Add a little detergent to the toothbrush bristles.
Using your finger, lift up edges of the splash guard and scrub away the gunk. Run water when you’re done and you’re good to go!
If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding your garbage disposal, don’t leave it to chance. Call the Pros at (239) 261-1000 or drop us a note. Get it done right the first time!

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