Having a garbage disposal in your kitchen can be extremely useful. It helps you stay environmentally friendly while serving as your plumbing system’s first line of defense against clogs. But if you want to keep performing these tasks successfully, remember to maintain them properly. Improper garbage disposal maintenance is one of the most common causes of hidden plumbing problems in homes. There are certain basic dos and don’ts regarding garbage disposal upkeep, which we will cover in this article to help ensure that your system lasts as long as possible.
Garbage disposal maintenance dos
First, let’s start with some of the most notable things you should do to maintain your garbage disposal properly. Remember that only applying one of these tips won’t be enough. A healthy dose of each should help you extend the lifespan of your garbage disposal as much as possible.
Using cold water
The fact that hot water is much better at breaking down greasy substances might make this tip seem counterintuitive. However, this hot water property is precisely what makes it worse for garbage disposal. Broken-down grease can more easily get down the drain. But, it can also thicken later on and get stuck to you the sides of the drainage pipe. If you use cold water, the grease is likely to remain more solid and go down the drain entirely.
Regular use helps
It may seem strange that using an appliance is part of its maintenance. However, this could not be more true regarding garbage disposal. Regular use helps your garbage disposal in two ways.
- Prevents rust and corrosion – The more often you use your garbage disposal, the less likely it is to rust or corrode. Rusting and corrosion can result in you having to replace certain garbage disposal parts sooner than it would typically be necessary.
- Prevents waste build-up – If your garbage disposal remains sedentary for a while, it’s possible for waste to build up and jam certain parts of it slowly.
Keep using the regular trash
Garbage disposals aren’t a solution for every type of garbage. Having one doesn’t mean you can eliminate your traditional trashcans/recycling bins or forget about using them. Many things can’t go in your garbage disposal, and you’ll still need regular garbage bags. An integral part of garbage disposal maintenance is knowing its limits.
Regularly clean it
There are three main ways that regular cleaning helps your garbage disposal. Firstly, it prevents blockage and clogs. Secondly, it helps prevent jamming and other mechanical issues. Third, regular cleaning also prevents unpleasant odor formation.
Regularly cleaning your garbage disposal is one of the best ways to extend the lifespan of your entire plumbing system. The two best ways to clean your garbage disposal are to empty it from time to time and run some diluted detergent through it every once in a while.
Keep spare parts, tools, and cleaning products at hand
Finally, even if you do your best to maintain your disposal correctly, some parts will eventually need to be replaced or repaired. If you’re handy and enjoy fixing things, keep spare parts and tools around. But, if a repair seems too onerous or you aren’t good at DIY, contact a professional plumber.
Aside from those, you should always have a backup inventory of cleaning supplies and similar products. If you live in a small apartment or don’t have the space for all of these things, experts from portabox.com recommend getting a nearby, long-term storage unit of the appropriate size to keep everything of that nature.
The don’ts of maintaining your garbage disposal
Knowing what not to do is a part of properly maintaining your garbage disposal. That is just as important as knowing what to do about it. Specific ways of mistreating your garbage disposal should be avoided at all costs if you want to ensure its long lifespan. Sadly, it’s widespread for people to be unaware of some of these things.
Trying to sharpen the blades
A common misconception about garbage disposals is that their blades must be sharpened. People tend to do this by throwing eggshells or large chunks of ice into the disposal. However, the impellers of garbage disposals are meant to be blunt, so there is no need to sharpen them. Throwing eggshells into your garbage disposal can harm it and lead to malfunctions.
Turning the motor off too soon
Turning off the motor in your garbage disposal too soon may lead to severe damage. You should let the motor and cold water from the sink run until you hear that all the food you put there has been ground up. Additionally, you can leave the water running for another 15 seconds after the grinding has finished. This will ensure that any additional bits that might build up and cause clogs are removed.
Using harsh chemicals
Another common myth is that proper garbage disposal maintenance requires you to use harsh chemicals to clean out the disposal. Harsh chemicals like bleach will clean out your garbage disposal well. But, they will also likely damage some of the interior mechanisms of your garbage disposal, causing it to malfunction. If the disposal gets clogged, a much safer option than industrial chemicals would be a mix of baking soda and vinegar.
Filling it up too much
Finally, a reasonably intuitive rule is not to overfill your garbage disposal. They are made to handle smaller portions of waste, which means that large quantities can create problems. If you have much, you can dispose of it a bit at a time. Additionally, you can remedy this issue by cutting up larger pieces of waste.
What you can and can’t put down on the disposal
To finish off this guide, let’s list some of the main categories of things you can and can’t put down the garbage disposal if you want to preserve its health and prolong its lifespan.
What you can put down the disposal:
- Cooked meat scraps
- Small bones
- Small amounts of coffee grounds
- Most vegetable and fruit scraps
- Citrus rinds
- Small bits of ice cubes
What you shouldn’t be throwing in the disposal:
- Grease, oils, or fats
- Large bones
- Nuts and shells
- Foods that expand (ex., rice, pasta, bread)
- Potato peels
Combine these garbage disposal maintenance tips with other strategies for preventing clogs in drains and sewer lines. That way, you can ensure that your entire plumbing system will have a long lifespan with minimal repair needs.