The garbage disposal unit under your kitchen sink is probably taken for granted. In a typical Waukesha WI area home it’s grinding at least once a day. The under-sink units are standard equipment in new homes. And they’re one of the most sought-after accessories for kitchen remodels. While nearly everyone has one, few know how to keep it running smoothly. If it grinds when you flip the switch, it’s fine. If it doesn’t run it’s a problem, right?
There are a few very basics tips to keep in mind that help keeping your disposer working as it should.
Unlike many machines, the disposal doesn’t need a strict maintenance schedule. But it does need sensible care. There are dos and don’ts that extend its life and enhance performance.
The don’ts almost everyone understands are:
- No fibrous foods in the disposal – no banana or potato peels, no broccoli, no corn husks, no celery. These all bind up and tangle blades. And they can form a thick, mat and clog drains.
- No bones – bones are hard on blades and make the motor work harder.
Do you realize that putting egg shells and coffee grounds into your disposal unit may be shortening its life? Coffee grounds and starchy foods (potato skins) clog pipes.
Have you been making these easy mistakes? Don’t worry, there’s time to make it better.
Simple Disposal Maintenance
Disposal-makers offer recommendations for keeping their products running as designed. The basic things you should always do include:
- Run the unit regularly – even if you don’t have food scraps to dispose of every day, plan to flush the running unit with cold water every other day or so. Repeated flushing helps keep blades from rusting and gets rid of any residue that wasn’t completely removed the last time it ran.
- Fight odors – use warm water and lemons to clean up the smells coming from the unit. Pour warm water – not hot – down the drain and add several cut-up lemons. The highly-acidic lemons kill bacteria and scrub on their way through the units and pipes.
- Clean the unit – every two weeks or so clean the inside of the disposal container. Run it for a minute with a cup of vinegar and a half-cup of baking soda added to combat bacteria.
- Unplug and scrub it – you can get at built-up crud on the cutting flaps with an old tooth brush. Always make sure the unit is unplugged.
- Use the wrench – if your disposal gets clogged, use the wrench that came with it to reduce the clog, not household flatware or other tools.
Typical Disposal Activities To Avoid
Professional plumbers have a list of regular activities that should be avoided. Some are common sense while others have been accepted for a long time. The most common “don’ts” include:
- Don’t pour hot water down into a clogged unit. The heat melts fats and makes unclogging the unit more difficult. The hotter the water the greater the risk.
- Avoid bleach or drain cleaners on clog – caustic chemicals may or may not do any good (even commercial drain cleaners labeled for disposals are questionable). An added danger is that bleach or harsh chemicals can splash out of the unit the next time you run it. Nobody needs bleach or anything else in their eyes.
- Ice doesn’t sharpen blades – there’s an urban legend saying crushing ice cubes sharpens disposal blades. Not true. Disposals don’t have blades. They have impellers that aren’t sharp to begin with. Ice can actually cause damage.
- Keep fats, oils and grease out – poured down the drain as liquids these elements solidify as they cool. When they do they gunk up the impellers and clog drains. Adding hot water makes the situation worse.
Garbage Disposal Troubles – Call A Licensed Plumber
If you neglect your under-sink disposal you’re not alone. You’re in the majority. A few simple activities can extend the life of your unit, but the time will come to replace it. You’ll have choices to make. There’s no “one size fits all” for disposals.
Schoenwalder Plumbing has the inventory and experience to fit your needs with the right unit. Give us a call, shoot us an email or drop in. Our licensed, certified plumbers are ready to provide details on the right garbage disposal products for your Waukesha WI or Lake Country home.