More specifically, how do you treat your garbage disposal? This is arguably one of the greatest plumbing innovations to make its way into homes, making cooking and cleanup must more convenient and allowing for less waste in the trash can. The garbage disposal takes care of everything, right?
Well, not quite. There are a few common misconceptions about garbage disposals that unfortunately lead many homeowners to treat their garbage disposal the wrong way. And while you might not have a problem right away, if you continue to abuse your garbage disposal—albeit unintentionally—it’s going to eventually fail on you. To avoid trouble, take a look at the following misconceptions and explanations of how you should treat your disposal system.
Garbage Disposals Don’t Have Sharp Blades
This is a common myth: that the “blades” within the garbage disposal are sharp and can handle anything you put down the sink. But, if you’ve actually ever felt it you’d discover they aren’t sharp to the touch at all (we don’t recommend reaching in and testing this theory, of course). What makes a disposal function is not that the blades are sharp, but that there is a powerful motor that moves the impeller quickly enough to force food scraps down to a grinder ring, where they are then ground up into tiny bits.
It’s not cutting through the scraps as you might imagine—the garbage disposal isn’t like a food processor or a blender. It’s very useful, but it does have its limits.
Not All Food Byproducts Should Go Down the Drain
Hopefully, you already know that you shouldn’t be putting things like plastic wrappers or paper down the disposal, even when it’s in small bits. Be sure to keep this in mind when you have guests as well—particularly kids who might not know any better.
But there are also some food byproducts you shouldn’t be relying on your garbage disposal for, as they can damage the disposal system, jam it up, or create clogs within your drain pipes. This includes:
- Popcorn Kernels
- Fruit Pits
- Meat Bones
- Fish Bones
Generally speaking, we’d advise against relying on your garbage disposal to break up anything you can’t chew with your teeth. But there are a couple exceptions to this:
- Pasta, Rice, and coffee grounds: This isn’t threat to your garbage disposal, but rather your drains—pasta and rice expands in the pipes and can clog them up even after going through the disposal system. Coffee grounds can create clogs too.
- FOG (Fats, Oil, and Grease): Again, this is a threat to your drain. FOG hardens as it cools, making your plumbing susceptible to buildup and stubborn clogs that will require professional drain cleaning.
- Stringy, Fibrous Food: This includes things like celery, asparagus, and onion skins—all of which can wrap around the impeller and cause problems.
Check the Reset Button If You Have Disposal Problems
If your garbage disposal gets jammed up but you’re able to resolve it on your own (by turning off the power to the disposal before removing whatever caused the jam) that’s great! But what if it won’t operate after that? Chances are, it just needs to be reset. There’s a button beneath your sink and garbage disposal assembly that allows for this reset. Try this first and if that doesn’t do the trick, give our pros a call!