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Keeping Your Garbage Disposal Running Smoothly
One of the more complex drain cleaning service challenges is a malfunctioning garbage disposal. There are quite a few ways that the disposal function can go wrong, from simple drain problems to tricky jams caused by grease and vegetable peels. There are lots of ways to avoid trouble, though, using good practices and maintenance habits.
What’s Inside That Machine Under Your Sink?
This hard-working appliance helps reduce your food scraps into manageable bits that flow down the drain instead of sitting in the garbage. It also adds convenience to your food prep time. Your drain cleaning service technician can usually repair or unclog this hardworking device. Your garbage disposal consists of a few important pieces.
- Splash guard — the rubber pieces near the sink surface that keep objects from falling in. If these are missing or damaged, get them replaced soon to avoid more expensive problems.
- Upper chamber — the intake side of the grinder where food accumulates for grinding. Food tumbles in this space so that the grinding parts can capture and process it.
- Shredder ring, impellers, flywheel — the three grinding pieces that process incoming food pieces.
- Motor — a powerful electric motor, 1/4 to 1/2 hp on home units. If it works too hard, it may trip the internal protection or your electrical circuit.
- Lower chamber — the output side where material and water combine and flow down to the P-trap and drainpipe.
- Plumbing connections — dishwasher connection (if needed) and waste line.
- Reset button — a safety reset if the motor is overloaded. Sometimes an easy solution.
- Flywheel wrench hole — for manual unjamming by turning the grinder.
First, a Review of the Don’ts
Coffee grounds, pasta, rice, bread — these gum up the works and sometimes block the drain below, resulting in a drain cleaning service call
Bones, nuts and shells, eggshells, pits and seeds — they’re tough on the blades
Onion layers, potato peels, stringy and fibrous veggies and fruits — these cause a slippery jam
Grease, oil, fat — they clog the works, slip and prevent proper grinding, cause odors, and contribute to drain clogs below
Non-food — keep plastics and paper out, including plastic wrap
5 Things That You Can Do to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Grinding
- Keep the Water Flowing When You Grind
Water is part of the grinding and removal process, so you should keep a steady flow going while you’re running the disposal and for a few moments after. If everything gets past the P-trap and down the drainpipe, you’re less likely to need a drain cleaning service.
- Use Cold Water for Grinding
Hot water causes clogs making many materials more slippery and soft and produces grinding problems with fats and starches.
- Keep Hard and Fibrous Foods Out
These need to be thrown out or composted since they cause the motor to struggle and can damage the blades. Industrial-strength garbage disposals might handle some, but home units are not that powerful.
- Break Up Food Before Grinding
Make sure that the disposal is processing small chunks of food, not whole zucchinis, carrots, or strips of beef, which will cause it to struggle and, over time, increase the wear. The same goes for large quantities of rice and other materials that, if they don’t clog the intake, can expand and clog the P-trap below, resulting in a drain cleaning service call.
- Grind Ice Cubes Once a Month
This helps keep the disposal fresh and improves the “bite” of the blades.
Don’t Use Drain Cleaners or Chemicals
The seals and components of the garbage disposal aren’t made to stand up to harsh chemicals like drain cleaners or bleach. Blades can become corroded from chemical contact, too. Splashing chemicals from garbage disposal operation can be hazardous to bystanders. It’s a safety problem if there are chemical residues in the disposal or drain when your drain cleaning service comes to repair it.
Drain Care Is Important, Too
Hot water (not boiling, which can damage plastic pipes and seals over time) flushing occasionally will help avoid grease build-up in the drain. A citrus flush helps to keep your disposal smelling fresh. Just make sure to use commercial citrus products or leave out the peel of fresh fruit which can cause a jam.
Trouble with Disposals That Sit Idle
Here are some tips If you’re using a garbage disposal for the first time in a while, such as at your summer home. Make sure to check for stuck items, use the flywheel wrench hole to unstick it, and press the reset button. Also make sure that the power from the circuit breaker is on, especially if other equipment has been connected to outlets on the circuit that may have caused an overload. While sometimes the unit may need replacing or a drain service call, it may just be a simple fix.
Temporarily Without a Garbage Disposal?
If your disposal fails or you’re renting and don’t have one, here are a few ways to cope, keep your drain clear and avoid drain cleaning service calls.
- Use a drain strainer to catch food and collect garbage in small lined trash can under the sink to keep it from the main trash.
- Use the toilet for dumping soups, stews, other small-piece foods. Flush several times.
- Compost non-meat food waste in an animal-proof compost bin.
And don’t forget, even if your disposal is not working, it’s wise to keep safe anyway — don’t put your hand down at any time. Let the drain cleaning service handle it if necessary.
Let the Professionals at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain Take Care of You
For expert drain cleaning service throughout your home and professional garbage disposal repair and replacement, turn to bluefrog Plumbing + Drain. Our prompt scheduled and emergency drain cleaning service brings licensed, full-service plumbers to take care of your plumbing issues, big and small, once and for all. Call our number or use the contact form on our website.