Garbage Disposal Systems – ‘Must Have’ Appliances

Tucked under the kitchen sink in almost every Waukesha WI home, garbage disposal systems are considered “must have” appliances in a modern home. At first glance they appear simple, but there’s more to them than the obvious. What they do is pretty simple, but how they do it isn’t. Like all mechanical appliances, a garbage disposal needs routine maintenance. Out of sight should not mean out of mind. A house call from a plumber to head off a crisis is more than a nuisance. If you’re preparing for guests, it’s a disaster. You should be willing to take a few steps to avoid potential problems, right? Consider the advice of professional Waukesha plumbers:

  • Keep garbage disposals clean and empty when not in use.
  • Run the unit regularly– even with no food scraps to get rid of it’s a good idea to flush a running unit with cold water every day. Or at least every other day. Repeated flushing helps keep blades (impellers) rust-free. It helps shed left over residue, too.
  • Combat odors– grinding lemons and flushing with warm water freshens smells coming from the unit. Always use warm water – not hot – in the drain before adding several cut-up lemons. Lemons are highly-acidic so they kill bacteria, scrubbing surfaces on their way through the disposal and connections.
  • Keep the inside clean– every two weeks or so after normal use, clean the inside of the disposal container. A cup of vinegar and a half-cup of baking soda inside a running unit combats bacteria.
  • Scrub it– crud builds up on the rubber flaps around the drain. Get at the underside of the flaps with an old tooth brush or small scrubber. Be safe. If you’re cleaning inside the container by hand make sure the unit is unplugged.

Avoid Mistakes With Garbage Disposal Systems

Professional plumbers have a list of common activities developed from house calls to fix garbage disposal problems. All precautions homeowners should understand. Some are based upon common sense while others reflect long-term beliefs. Recognize any of these happening in your kitchen sink? The leading “don’ts” include:

  • Never use hot water in a clogged unit – very hot water melts and congeals fats making unclogging the disposal more difficult. The hotter the water the greater the risk.
  • No fats, cooking oils and grease– poured into the disposal these liquids solidify as they cool. Globs of grease gunks up the impellers and clogs drains. You might think hot water loosens it, right? Wrong. Adding hot water makes the situation worse.
  • Never add bleach or drain cleaners – even commercial drain cleaners labeled for disposals are questionable. Caustic chemicals may or may not do any good. There’s an additional danger to you from bleach or harsh chemical fumes and splashes.
  • Ice won’t sharpen blades– for a long time people have thought grinding up ice cubes sharpens blades. That’s a myth. Disposals don’t have blades that need sharpening. They use heavy impellers that aren’t sharp to begin with. Too much ice can actually damage the unit.

Care & Feeding Of A Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal doesn’t need much care. I little attention to keeping it clean and fresh is the most important chore. After that, taking care to avoid putting the wrong things into it is critical. Sensible daily care is more important than a rigid maintenance schedule. Are you guilty of grinding up things not meant for your disposal?

Do you know putting egg shells and coffee ground into your garbage disposal is shortening its life? Coffee grounds and starchy foods like potato skins coagulate, mat together and clog pipes. Items like these belong on a compost bin.

In addition, plumbing professionals have learned from experience to these items should be kept from a disposal:

  • All fibrous foods – no banana skins, no potato peels, no broccoli, no celery, no masses of cold slaw. All these clog pipes and bind and tangle blades. Their often thick mats threaten serious clogs in the drain and nearby pipes.
  • No bones – fine, brittle chicken bones appear easy to grind, steak and ham bones are dense and hard. Appearances are misleading. No bones are good in any garbage disposal no matter its size. They can over-work the motor, significantly reduce its life. Large ones can jam and bend impeller arms, too.

Garbage Disposal Systems — When Maintenance Isn’t Enough

Is your garbage disposal neglected? Sure it is, most everybody’s is. Paying attention to these suggestions extends the life of a garbage disposal. They’re based upon years of emergency call-outs to “save the day” in households throughout southern Wisconsin.

Even with the best maintenance and daily care, disposals don’t last forever. They’re machines with moving parts. The better you care for them, the longer they last. However, there comes a time to consider a replacement. You’ll learn there is no “one size fits all.”

What size unit fits your needs depends upon several things: the proposed location, what you use it for most and your water/sewer system. Rural installations feeding septic systems require more thought than homes attached to city sewer.

When the time comes, calling upon a professional plumbing contractor for high-quality products and technical support make sense, right? You expect quality products that fit your budget and the space under your sink. A professional has the right tools, skill and expertise to deliver the most the best fit. Skilled plumbers stand behind their work beyond basic product warranty, too.

You can rely upon experienced, trained, licensed professionals at Schoenwalder Plumbing for the latest products and professional installation. Call 262-542-7908, email  or visit our showroom and learn how we can provide garbage disposal systems for homes in Waukesha WI and the Lake Country.


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