Garbage Disposal Tips

Posted On: 07/26/2012

This guest post comes to us from Len The Plumber, a Maryland plumbing company with offices in Baltimore and Silver Spring, MD. Thanks Len The Plumber!

Some of the most common calls we get are for malfunctioning garbage disposals, and nine times out of 10 the problem is something that can be fixed by the homeowner. Most people don’t know a whole lot about their garbage disposals beyond how to flip them on. And while garbage disposals aren’t the most complex part of your home’s plumbing system, they’re certainly not the simplest – in fact, there are a lot of things you should know about them!

You garbage disposal can’t take everything!

The most common cause of garbage disposal problems is people not knowing what they can and can’t put down the disposal. Basically, you should scrape your plates first, then rinse and wash anything left down the drain – don’t put large food particles into the disposal, and definitely don’t put down:

  • Potato skins
  • Bone fragments and eggshells
  • Banana peels
  • Fats
  • Unpopped popcorn kernels
  • Onion skins
  • Fruit pits and seeds
  • Stringy vegetables like asparagus and celery

Buy a Garbage Disposal Tool

This simple investment can save you tons of headaches when it comes to your garbage disposal. Most disposals have a small hole designed to fit a ¼” Allen key or garbage disposal tool that allows you to hand crank the disposal to fix any jams. If your garbage disposal doesn’t move when you flip the switch, crank it a little and see if you can get it to work.

Note: if the garbage disposal doesn’t run at all when you turn it on, hit the red RESET button on it. Usually this takes care of the issue!

Keep the Teeth Sharp

Sharpening the blades on your garbage disposal is extremely important. Fortunately, it’s also pretty easy! Throw some ice cubes or some coffee grounds into the disposal. It will make a noise that sounds like your garbage disposal is getting ruined, but it’s actually honing the teeth on the disposal. If you’re using coffee, make sure you run the water while you do it. In fact…

Always Run the Water When You Run the Disposal

Dry running your garbage disposal is the surest way to burn out the motor prematurely. Make sure you’re running the water before, during, and after you run the disposal – this will lubricate the teeth and make it easier to grind up foods. Also, make sure it’s cold water – hot water will melt any fats left on the plate and cause them to clog up the disposal.

Keep the Disposal Clean

Every now and then, drop a little dish soap inside your disposal and let it run for a minute or two(with some cold water). This will help clean out any grease and leave your disposal smelling fresh.

Garbage disposals are meant to last a long time, and if you take care of them, they will. If you have a problem not covered on this list, it’s best to consult a professional – you might not really know what’s going on down there!