Our garbage disposals save us a lot of hassle on a regular basis. They make cleaning up after a meal a lot easier, and they save us from having to throw away food that will rot and stink up the trash can. Although they are handy to have, they do require some care and you can’t throw just anything in them. The purpose of the garbage disposal is to trap and grind up any food that slips through the drain so that it does not create a blockage in your pipes. It should never be used as a primary waste disposal center, that is your trash can or compost bin’s job!
At Culler Plumbing Services our goal is to give you the service and the tools that you need to keep your plumbing running smoothly. Our Collinsville plumber has come up with this list of what not to put down your garbage disposal:
Fat, Grease or Oil
As most people know, grease and oil do not mix well with water. What some people fail to remember when disposing of grease down the sink, is the sink pipes are built specifically to carry water and the garbage disposal is meant to break down food to safely enter water pipes and be carried away from your home. You should never run a garbage dry, meaning without running copious amounts of water while it is grinding away. When you load the disposal up with grease, fat, or oil it will impede your disposal’s ability to grind, and it could also cause clogs in your drain.
This category includes celery, onion skins, cornhusks. The fibers can get tangled in your disposal, causing jams and clogs. Celery and asparagus have especially thick fibers that are notorious for wrapping around garbage disposal blades and stopping them from spinning. Once this happens, the disposal should be completely turned off from the power supply and then cleaned. Safety note- Never stick your hand into the garbage disposal!
Hot water will cause the grease in the foods that would otherwise be safe to put down your disposal to liquefy, accumulate and eventually clog your drain. Always use cold water when you are running your disposal. Water should always be running when your disposal is running and it should always be cold.
Pasta and rice are a couple of examples of what we mean by expandable. In the same way that these foods expand as you cook them, these can expand in your drains and can easily lead to clogs. Raw or uncooked rice or pasta is dangerous because it has yet to soak up any water and can quickly block your disposal or pipes. However, even cooked pasta and rice can continue to expand, which will surely cause an avoidable clog.
Bleach and drain cleaners may help to remove clogs, but they will also damage the blades in your disposal. Caustic substances such as Draino are very alkaline, using its burning powers to essentially melt anything that may be causing blockages. The directions instruct you to allow the substance sit in your drain for 15 to 30 minutes prior to flushing it down. The problem is that they are also very corrosive to the metal on your garbage disposal blades as well as your pipes.
Vegetable, Fruit, and Root Peels
The exteriors of most fruits and vegetables are much harder than they may seem and are difficult for the disposal to break up into small enough pieces to pass safely. When you peel fruits and vegetables into the sink or disposal, it easy to quickly build up an overwhelming quantity that can create a blockage and prevent the blades from spinning. Banana peels and artichokes are very dangerous to your disposal. Potato peels contain a great deal of starch. The starch can form a paste that will cause the blades of your disposal to stick.
Other Items to Avoid
Some other items we find in disposals frequently that should be avoided include: bones, fruit pits, or small pebbles. Generally speaking, if you cannot chew it up yourself, it has no business in your disposal. Sure, your disposal has spinning blades instead of a jaw and teeth, but they act similarly in the breakdown process. Stems, shrimp shells, glass, plastic, nutshells, jewelry, and silverware. Granted, some of these items often fall in by accident, but a drain cover can help prevent an object from unintentionally entering your disposal. It is important to remember that it is meant to be a food waste disposer, not a trash can. And, it is worth mentioning again- never, ever, under any circumstance, should your hand enter the disposal.
With a long list of things that should not go in the disposal, you may be wondering what can. A garbage disposal is meant to handle small scraps of food left on a plate after a meal, just avoid large amounts, big chunks, or any other foods previously discussed. Breads are generally okay because they break up easily and dissolve. Of course, this means crumbs or an uneaten bite of crust is okay to grind up, avoid whole slices of bread and never attempt to grind a whole loaf. Be sure to use plenty of water to avoid creating a starchy paste. Most cooked vegetables and meats in small chunks are okay to pass without much effort. Eggshells can grind up easily and aren’t very heavy, so they are okay. Ice cubes and rock salt can be ground to clean your disposal, please note this will not sharpen your blades, but will help remove food stuck to the blades.
With some minor maintenance and following these tips, you should be able to keep your disposal in good working order and avoid clogs. If you still experience a clog, the experts at Culler Plumbing are happy to help! We are available anytime for your emergency plumbing needs in Collinsville, give us a call today!