The garbage disposal is an integral part of any kitchen. As such, they tend to take on a lot of intense use. It’s easy to forget that they can break down until that fateful day finally arrives.
A well-maintained garbage disposal should last up to 15 years before the blades dull or the motor breaks down from natural use. But if you’re careless with what you throw into it, you could shorten its lifespan, or at the very least, create a clog.
What Can Clog Your Garbage Disposal
As tempting as it is to put anything and everything down the garbage disposal (because it’s “garbage,” right?), there are a few things you should opt to throw down the drain. One of the best ways to avoid potential issues is to know what those items are.
Avoid putting these items down the garbage disposal:
Eggshells: There’s a misconception floating around that eggshells are good for your garbage disposal. This is false. Although the actual shell won’t cause any issues, the membrane that lines the inside can lodge in the rotor of the machine.
Coffee grounds: Another garbage disposal home remedy you may have encountered is putting coffee grounds down the drain to reduce odor. While it can make it smell better, coffee grounds will eventually form a thick paste that can prevent the blades from moving.
Animal bones: Your garbage disposal isn’t built to break down such tough material. If you throw bones down it, you could burn out your motor.
Onion skin: Just like the membrane of an eggshell, the slippery skin of an onion can get caught up in the rotor or even obstruct the drain. This can lead to a clog.
Fruit pits: This sort of hard, ridged food waste can burn out your motor just like bones. A good rule of thumb is to avoid putting anything hard down the garbage disposal.
Oil: Over time, oil will coat your pipes in thick, greasy layers and form a block. It won’t necessarily harm your disposal directly but it will lead to overall complications in your kitchen plumbing.
Rice or pasta: When you send these types of food down the garbage disposal, they form a thick paste which can block up your pipes.
Trash: Aluminum, plastic, and glass have no place in your garbage disposal. Throw it in your trash can.
Cleaning chemicals: This is a big no-no. Don’t get tempted to reach for Drano at the first sign of a clog! Throwing chemicals of any kind down the drain can create more damage to your plumbing or even harm you and your family.
How to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Running Smoothly
One of the best ways to keep your garbage disposal running in tip-top shape is to maintain it well. Don’t allow any of the items listed above into the system. Break up anything you do put down the garbage disposal to make its job a little easier. The less work it has to do, the longer it lasts.
A regular cleaning routine can do wonders for your garbage disposal too. You can create a cleaner by combining one half-cup of baking soda and one half-cup of vinegar. Pour it down the drain and let it soak for 10 minutes. Next, turn on the hot water and run the garbage disposal.
What to do When Your Garbage Disposal Gets Clogged
It can be a giant headache when your garbage disposal goes out. As soon as we can’t readily clear our plates of food, it becomes apparent how often we really use it. It’s a frustrating process trying to figure out how to fix it. But more times than not, the solution is likely easier than you may think.
- Before working with your garbage disposal in any capacity, turn it off and unplug it.
- Try to rest it. There’s usually a button located at the bottom of the machine.
- Get the blades moving to loosen up the clog. You can hand crank the blade by sticking a long tool down the drain and moving it side to side until you feel the blades move freely. You can also get the blades moving by inserting an Allen wrench into the slot at the bottom of the machine.
- If you feel the blades move and it’s still not working, it might be time to replace the entire unit.
- When all else fails, seek professional help from a plumber.
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