Having a garbage disposal under your kitchen sink certainly is a nice convenience. Rather than having to fish out all the little bits of food that fall into the drain, you can just grind them up and wash them away. Of course, not everything should go down the disposal, and putting too much into the unit can lead to a failure or blockage. Let’s take some time to discuss what not to put down a garbage disposal and where those things should go instead.
At Walker Air • Plumbing • Electric, we’ve seen our share of blocked garbage disposals – along with countless other plumbing issues. No matter what plumbing problem you happen to be facing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, be sure to give us a call first. We’ll jump into action and get your system back in working order right away.
What Not to Put Down a Garbage Disposal
While it would be impossible to list everything that you could conceivably put into a garbage disposal, the list below will highlight some of the common mistakes people make so you can avoid those errors.
- Eggshells. After you crack a couple of eggs for your morning breakfast, it would be easy enough to just drop those shells down into the disposal. Don’t get into that habit, however, as the membrane that comes along with the shell is rather sticky and can work to clog things up in the disposal.
- Cooking grease. You’ll wind up with a mess in your garbage disposal if you make a habit of pouring cooking grease right into the drain. It seems fine while it is in liquid form but remember what happens to that grease when it cools – it becomes a slippery, sticky solid. That will cause trouble in the disposal and it might cause the disposal to struggle with grinding up foods you put down the drain in the future.
- Hard items. Don’t ask your disposal to grind up things that are too hard or thick. For instance, nuts shouldn’t head down the drain in your kitchen sink, and neither should chicken bones or other animal bones.
- Coffee grounds. If you like to make your own coffee in the morning, don’t dump out the grounds into the sink when the brewing is finished. Those wet grounds will likely clog things up over time and the performance of your disposal will be diminished in the end.
While the list above covers some of the most common mistakes seen in kitchens across the country, there are certainly other foods that should also not find their way into the disposal. Other examples include foods that are likely to swell up when they get wet, such as bread and pasta. Also, avoid disposing of particularly tough fruits and veggies in the disposal, as well as potato skins that you have peeled.
Finally, while it might go without saying, non-food items should not be landing in the disposal. This drain system is only meant for liquids and food products, so anything else that needs to be disposed of in your kitchen should go into the garbage can directly.
Dealing with a Clogged Disposal
If you have already made the mistake of putting the wrong things down your disposal, and now it is clogged as a result, there are some options available to get things flowing once again. As a starting point, turn on the water for a steady flow into the disposal and turn the disposal on and off a few times quickly. This might be enough to break things loose.
When that doesn’t work, use a plunger – not the same one you use for your toilets – to create some suction and hopefully pull the problem items loose. You can also pour some baking soda and vinegar down the drain, let it sit for 10 or 20 minutes, and then try to run the disposal once again.
As a safety reminder, never put your hands down the disposal in an effort to manually move the blockage out of the way. If you do need to use something like a wooden spoon to get in there and break up the clog, always unplug the disposal from the power source first to make sure it doesn’t accidentally come on while you are working.
Using a garbage disposal responsibly is not difficult once you understand how it works and what it is meant to do. Treat your disposal properly and it should perform well for you for years to come. If you do run into any problems with the disposal or other parts of your plumbing system, reach out to Walker Air • Plumbing • Electric and we’ll be happy to help.