How often do you think about your garbage disposal? If you’re like most people, you may not give it much thought until something goes wrong. While garbage disposals are hardworking appliances, they do require some maintenance to keep working at their peak. By taking a little bit of care, you can keep your garbage disposal smelling good and working well for many years to come.
- Watch what you feed it. Fibrous foods like banana skins, celery, corn husks, potato peels and broccoli are terrible for your garbage disposal because they can tangle in the blades and stop it from working. It goes without saying that bones, pits, seeds, eggshells, oil or grease, and anything that’s not biodegradable should never go into the disposal. What you might not know, though, is that coffee grounds and starchy food like rice or pasta can clog the pipes.
- Treat it with care. When the garbage disposal is in use, the cold water should always be running, and you should keep it running for 20 seconds after you’re finished running the disposal. Feed things into the disposal slowly, and avoid dumping large amounts of food into it. Protect your disposal from blockage by using a drain strainer, and if it starts to smell bad, put a small lemon peel and some ice cubes in, and turn it on while running warm water.
- Be careful when you clean it. Never use bleach or harsh chemicals to clean your garbage disposal. Instead, you can clean your disposal with common, natural items you probably already have around the house. You can use ice and rock salt, baking soda and vinegar, citrus, borax, hot water and dish soap, dish soap and baking soda, or boiling water to clean it thoroughly.
- Use it or lose it. Do you know that if you don’t run your disposal regularly, it can become vulnerable to rust and corrosion? Even when you don’t need to use it to grind up food, turn on the cold water and run the disposal every few days. This is the equivalent of exercising to keep your body in good condition. Running the disposal moves the parts around to keep them working well.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts at garbage disposal TLC, problems occur. Fortunately, many of the common problems you’ll encounter are things you can fix on your own.
- If water is running through the disposal slowly, it may be clogged. You should never stick your hand in the disposal to dislodge a clog, but if you think a clog is the problem, start looking for the problem by looking under the sink. Placing a catch bucket under the disposal’s drain trap, disconnect the slip-nut fittings and remove the trap. There may be clogs in the trap fitting, or the bed of the trap, which can effectively be removed with a small scrub brush. If you don’t find a clog in the trap or the drain arm that leads to the wall, you may need to call in a professional to clean the vertical drain pipe inside the wall.
- If it’s overheated, your unit may refuse even to turn Overfilling a disposal can lead to overheating, and if your unit is overheating, it won’t even hum when you flip the switch. Look under the unit, find the red reset button, and push it. If that doesn’t work, it could be a tripped breaker: it’s better to check the circuit box than to unnecessarily call in a professional.
- Sometimes your unit can jam. If it’s making noise but isn’t running, the disposal may be jammed. Again, never put your hand into the grinding chamber, even if you think something may be lodged in the disposal. Instead, turn off the circuit breakers to the unit and remove the bottom housing, in order to dislodge any blockage from underneath. If you are not sure how to do this, it’s probably safer to call in a professional than to risk catching your fingers in the disposal.
- If it’s leaking, it may need to have a seal replaced. On the other hand, it could be a more serious problem. Sometimes a foreign object can get caught in a disposal and crack the casing or cause a hole. Sometimes, leaks happen at the dishwasher connection and discharge drainpipe, which may require tightening the clamp or replacing a hose. If you’re not sure exactly what needs to be done, it may be time to call for help.
How do you know when it’s time to throw in the towel? Eventually, garbage disposals wear out. They’re not particularly expensive, so if there’s a serious problem, it may be best to get a new unit. Some signs that your garbage disposal needs to be replaced include:
- Frequent clogging, even when properly maintained
- A frequent need to press the reset button
- A garbage disposal that smells persistently bad
- Blades that have become dull
- A leak that’s not easy to fix
Whether it’s a broken garbage disposal or a more serious issue, if you need a reliable plumber in Salt Lake County, trust All Star Service & Repair to provide unmatched customer service and quality expertise at affordable rates. For more than 60 years we’ve proven our professionalism and dedication to our community, providing quality clog and pipe repairs, water heater maintenance, and sewer line servicing repairs. Give us a call at (801) 792-2428, and we’ll come to your location, diagnose your plumbing issues, and resolve them quickly and effectively.