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What Not to Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

Posted On: December 16, 2019

Your garbage disposal is effective at getting rid of a lot of scraps, but that doesn’t mean you can put just anything down your garbage disposal. In fact, some items can damage your disposal and cause drain clogs, as well as other plumbing problems.

To keep your garbage disposal running smoothly and avoid clogs and jams, follow these easy, helpful tips.

What NOT to Put Down Your Garbage Disposal (Infographic)

6 Items to Never Put Down the Garbage Disposal

Some things are perfectly acceptable to scrape off your dinner plate and down the kitchen sink, such as leftover sauce, bits of meat, and other small food scraps. However, there’s also a long list of items you should never put down the disposal, including:

  1. Fibrous foods: This includes celery sticks, corn husks, onion skins, eggshells, potato peels, asparagus stalks, and artichoke leaves. These tend to wrap around garbage disposal blades, potentially damaging the motor. To prevent this, toss them in the trash or onto your compost pile, instead of rinsing them down the sink.
  2. Starchy foods: Pasta, rice, potatoes, and legumes turn into a pasty, goopy substance when overcooked. It’s no surprise that items with this consistency can clog the drain if you dispose of them down the sink. Throw starchy foods in the trash to keep your kitchen plumbing flowing smoothly.
  3. Grease: After cooking ground beef, bacon, or gravy, don’t pour the grease down your garbage disposal. It may be liquid while it’s hot, but as grease cools, it solidifies into a gelatinous glob. As you can imagine, this is bad news for your plumbing. Properly dispose of grease by pouring it into an old can or jar, letting it harden, and throwing it in the trash.
  4. Hard materials: Animal bones, fruit pits, and other hard materials are too much for garbage disposal blades to handle. As a rule of thumb, if it’s too hard to chew, it’s probably too hard to put down the kitchen sink.
  5. Non-food items: Things like twist ties, rubber bands, string, cigarette butts, bottle caps, and plant clippings should never go down the drain. These things don’t break down in the disposal. Instead, they can cause clogs. Some non-food items can also damage your disposal’s blades.
  6. Chemicals: Drain cleaners, lye, and other chemicals are not appropriate for the kitchen sink. If the drain becomes clogged and the disposal isn’t helping, call a plumber for assistance. Chemicals can damage your pipes and plumbing, causing bigger problems down the road.

What to Do if You Have Garbage Disposal Problems

close up to garbage disposal installation

Even if you take good care of your garbage disposal, normal wear and tear can take their toll. That means, over time, your disposal can eventually experience problems or stop working. Next time your garbage disposal has a problem, use these tips to troubleshoot the issue:

  • If the garbage disposal won’t operate, look below the sink to make sure the appliance is plugged in. Check for any tripped breakers as well. Then, press the reset button on the base of the disposal.
  • If the garbage disposal is leaking, unplug the appliance and check for loose bolts. Tighten any you find. If the leak continues, cover the bolt heads with plumber’s putty to seal them from the outside.
  • If the garbage disposal grinds poorly, first make sure you always run water before, during, and after operating the disposal to help wash away debris. If the unit still doesn’t do a good job, the blades could be dull. It may be possible to have them sharpened, or you might decide to replace the unit entirely.

Is your garbage disposal still not working? Do you suspect something may have gone down the drain that shouldn’t have? Or is it simply time to upgrade and install a new garbage disposal?

Whatever your garbage disposal and plumbing needs may be, Genz-Ryan Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning has you covered!

To schedule garbage disposal repair service with an expert plumber in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, contact Genz-Ryan online or call (612) 223-6158 today!

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