Denver Plumber Shares Simple Tips to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Running Flawlessly

October 29, 2019

When it comes to kitchen appliances, few are as helpful to have on-hand as the humble garbage disposal. This little in-sink device has been around since 1927 and makes getting rid of food waste a breeze. But with so much use, your disposal can and will get clogged. Though clogs can get fixed, all that food debris can cause serious damage to the disposal itself. When this happens, you’ll need to contact an experienced Denver residential plumbing expert to fix the problems. Here are a few simple ways to keep your disposal working properly so you can prevent those untimely calls for emergency repairs.

Never Use the Disposal for Fibrous Foods
Garbage disposals are durable, but they can break if you put the wrong types of food down the chute. Be mindful of the waste you’re putting in the sink. If it includes fibrous vegetables like celery, banana peels, or even potato peels, move the waste to your trash can. 

The blades will chop up these items, but when they do, the fibers inside can get tangled around the blades. If enough builds up, it puts strain on the motor and can end up keeping the unit from working at all. When the motor breaks, you’ll often have to replace the garbage disposal entirely. Save yourself the stress and toss items into the trash bin if you’re concerned.

Don’t Use Glass to Sharpen the Blades
There’s a rumor that’s circulated among homeowners almost as long as the disposal has been around that says you can sharpen the disposal blades by putting broken glass through the disposal. Unfortunately, this is a myth and it can do far more harm than good.

Not only will the glass NOT sharpen the blades—it can damage and dull them. Worse, the chopped up bits of glass won’t flow harmlessly through your plumbing. Instead, those chunks can damage your pipes and trap other food material inside, creating severe clogs that take time to remove. Instead, maintain your disposal by grinding up ice cubes and add freshness by tossing a few chunks of lemon peel inside. The two will clear any gunk off the blades and help get rid of bad smells coming up from the chute.

Always Run the Tap When Using the Disposal
Hitting the switch for the disposal instead of the light won’t damage the unit if you turn it off quickly. But if you choose to run the disposal without running the water, you put yourself at risk for costly repairs. 

Every disposal needs the water to help flush the waste down the drain once it’s broken up. Without a steady stream of water, the food waste will just sit there and gum up the mechanism. Get in the habit of running the tap over the disposal every time you turn it on. When you turn the disposal off, let the water run for about 10 seconds. This will flush any remaining food particles off the blades and down the drain. 

If you need help remembering which switch goes to the disposal, use a piece of masking tape on the switch plate to help you find the right one every time.

Never Use Drain Cleaners on the Disposal
Drain cleaners may seem like a convenient way to power through food buildup in your drains and your disposal. But it can actually do more harm than good. The cleaners are incredibly caustic—it’s how they break up clogs. The same chemicals that allow them to get rid of those clogs can also hurt your pipes. With your disposal, those chemicals can damage the components beyond repair.

If you think you have a clog, don’t try to fix it with liquid drain cleaner. Call your plumber and let them assess the damage. This way, you’ll know your disposal is safe and won’t get damaged in the process. 

Don’t Panic if It Stops Working
No one likes to hear their disposal suddenly stop spinning and grinding up food waste. Unfortunately, it happens and it happens for many different reasons. A clog is not always one of them. 

Modern units have a reset button on the outdoor casing beneath your sink. The reset button gets triggered anytime the unit malfunctions. This can cause it to stall or make strange noises when you turn the unit on. Take a look beneath the sink and push the reset button. Then, try the disposal again. The button should make the unit work normally, but if it continues to sound strange, call your plumber.

Break Things Up Before You Put Them Down the Disposal
Disposals work best when they can grind up smaller chunks of food waste. This helps keep the blades moving at full speed and reduces the risk of clogs and damage to the blades. Unfortunately, this does mean you’ll need to get your hands dirty if you have large chunks of food waste in the sink. 

Break the items up until they’re about the size of an ice cube for best results. Then, let that food waste go down the chute to the disposal. Once the blades have run for a few seconds, add a little more. Whenever possible, try to avoid overloading the disposal as it can slow the process down and could create a jam in the mechanism. 

Get Your Unit Serviced By a Pro
Regular tune-ups are a great way to keep your garbage disposal working like-new. But they should always be done by an experienced professional. Schedule an appointment with your plumber and let them assess the condition of your unit. Once they know how it’s working, they’ll be able to help you decide on a service schedule. Stick to that schedule and always call them if the unit starts malfunctioning.

These tips should help you keep your garbage disposal working properly for years to come. But if it’s not or you notice the unit making strange noises, contact our team to schedule an appointment. We’ll make sure your disposal can work like-new every time you turn it on. 
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