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The Total Guide to Garbage Disposal Maintenance

If you live in a rural area, or if you have an older home, you may think that having a garbage disposal is like having a dishwasher; it’s a luxury more than a necessity. Or, if you’re like most people, you feel that garbage disposals are a “must have” component to a modern kitchen to grind food and dispose of food waste, food scraps and other smaller pieces of food particles down the kitchen sink – we sure feel that way!

Just like a refrigerator or a clothes dryer, garbage disposals don’t last forever; all appliances have a life expectancy. However, garbage disposal units, like our bodies and like any other household appliance, automobile, or piece of furniture, can last longer and avoid a call to the plumber for garbage disposal repair or replacement if they have proper garbage disposal maintenance, and they aren’t abused.

So, how long should a brand new garbage disposal last? On average, garbage disposals last about 12 years. However, if homeowners put the wrong stuff down the garbage disposal, such as egg shells, celery stalks, fibrous foods, coffee grounds, potato peels, and large chunks of food, the garbage disposal probably won’t last 12 years; its lifespan will be cut short and you’ll be constantly dealing with clogs.

Can I Extend the Life of My Garbage Disposal?

You sure can! But first, you need to know what NOT to put down the garbage disposal. Think fibrous foods – these are not good for the disposal because they have a way of entangling the blades and causing them to jam up. We’re talking about celery, lettuce, potato and carrot peels, onion skin, artichokes, chard, and kale.

You also don’t want to put uncooked pasta or rice down the garbage disposal because when they get wet, they expand, rendering your garbage disposal useless. If you want to extend the life of your garbage disposal and plumbing system, avoid putting these foods down the garbage disposal unit:

  • Coffee grinds
  • Potato peels
  • Corn husks
  • Celery stalks
  • Harsh chemicals, bleach, harsh drain cleaners
  • Large amounts of starchy foods
  • Grease (puts a film over the blades, reducing their effectiveness)
  • Eggshells (ground to a sand-like consistency, they clog pipes)
  • Fats and oils (leads to clogged drains when grease solidifies)
  • Fibrous foods (strings wrap around blades, affecting the motor)
  • Uncooked pasta and rice (swell when mixed with water, creating a pasty substance that leads to clogging)
  • Non-food items, such as sponges, plant clippings, cigarette butts, twist ties, etc.

Most people would agree that garbage disposals are fantastic kitchen appliances that are convenient and reliable. However, even the best models won’t hold up to unsuitable items. If your garbage disposal isn’t working, contact A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. to schedule a service call!

Garbage Disposal Maintenance Tips

If your disposal unit is getting clogs, and you’re having trouble getting it to fully dispose of the food particles, then here are a few tips to use to get your system performing well again.

Cold Water:

Make sure to always run a steady flow of cold water when running your system. Hot water can cause fats and any grease to stick to the blades when running it every day. Cold water has the additional benefit of helping to cool the unit as it runs. (note – hot water is fine to run normally in your kitchen sink, cold water is simply preferred in most situations, and using the faucet for running water while running the garbage disposal is important)

Ice Cubes and a cup of rock salt:

Keeping your disposal unit clean is key, and running a combination of ice cubes and a cup of rock salt can help do this. When running a cup of rock salt and ice cubes together, you let them run in the garbage disposal for around a minute. Doing this will let the coarseness of the rock salt scrape the buildup and food particles off of the blades.

Baking soda and a cup of vinegar:

After you clean out your unit with either ice cubes and a cup of rock salt, or using dish soap and running water, a great way to get rid of bacteria and combat odor is to run the baking soda and a cup of vinegar combo. You simply mix these together and let them sit in the unit. Be sure to turn the unit off, whether that’s unplugging from the wall socket, or flipping the circuit breaker.

Keeping up with your garbage disposal maintenance will help keep your kitchen sink smelling better, your drain pipes running better, and help prolong the life of your unit saving your from a new garbage disposal installation bill.

Garbage Disposal Repair Tips

When it comes to repairing your garbage disposal unit, there are a few tips to make your DIY efforts more effective and safe.

Disconnect power:

When working on your garbage disposal, you MUST disconnect the power. Disconnecting it at the circuit breaker, or unplugging it from the wall.

Removing food particles:

When troubleshooting your unit, if you can see food particles (and the power is disconnected), then you could use tongs to remove the clog, pliers or other tools that allow you to get leverage on the debris and be able to remove it.

Reset button:

When trying to run your system, if you’re not getting any kind of movement or sound, you may need to reset the system via the reset button. The reset button is normally located on the outside of the unit under the sink.

If you’re unsure of your garbage disposal’s status, you can look for these 6 signs your garbage disposal needs repaired.

Garbage Disposal Installation

If you have an old garbage disposal that is needing to be replaced, or your current kitchen sink doesn’t have one and you’d like to see what it’s like to be able to run food scraps down the drain, then call today! A-1 Sewer and Septic can solve nearly all your plumbing issues, and are experts in plumbing services such as garbage disposal installation, new water heaters, drain cleaning, septic tanks, and more.

Call 913-354-2942 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!