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Calgary Plumber’s Tips for a Healthy Garbage Disposal

Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals were a revolutionary invention in kitchen plumbing that still amaze homeowners. I just wash garbage down my sink and it disappears? Amazing! But while garbage disposals are so easy to use, they are even easier to abuse. Save yourself the time, money, and hassle of repairing or replacing a garbage disposal by following these tips and learning how to take care of it.

A disposal might look like it can eat up anything, but it can’t. Here are several things you should never put down the garbage disposal:

1.)  Hard objects—they can damage the blades and clog the drain

  • Shells from shrimp, crab, and other shellfish
  • Hard seeds, fruit pits, and unpopped popcorn kernels
  • Hard meat bones
  • Corn cobs
  • Nut shells

2.)  Fibrous fruits and vegetables—they can get tangled in the blades

  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Artichokes
  • Banana peels
  • Corn husk
  • Onion skins (specifically the slimy membrane)

3.)  Starchy items—they can thicken, slowing the machine or clogging the drain

  • Potato peelings
  • Corn starch

4.)  Hard grainy items—they become sandy and hard to clean, impeding the blades

  • Coffee grounds (in excess)
  • Egg shells

5.)  Liquid fats—they solidify quickly and form sticky clogs in your pipes

  • Bacon grease
  • Hot oils

With the exception of animal products like the bones and grease, there is a better, greener alternative for disposing of the above items: composting. Building a compost bin is easy and environmental. Here are a few more things to avoid putting in your garbage disposal:

6.)  Non-biodegradable trash, especially paper, plastic, metal, and glass products

7.)  Too much food at one time—cut large items into smaller pieces

8.)  Kitchen dishes and utensils

9.)  Hair, string, rubber bands, fabric, etc.

10.)   ANY PART OF YOUR BODY! Disposal blades are dangerous!

Now that you know what items you can and cannot put down a disposal and in what quantities, here is what you need to know about disposal use and upkeep. When using your garbage disposal, always run cold water with the disposal and for about thirty seconds after you turn it off. Cold water carries waste down the drain, keeps the disposal’s motor assembly from overheating, and keeps fats and other foods solid and easy to break apart. Also, make sure you keep the disposal running until all the food is cleared—indicated by the stop of the disposal’s grinding sound—because food left in the disposal will create bacteria and odor.

That brings the last important maintenance tip: disposal cleaning. Every day, you should fill your disposal and sink with very hot, soapy water and run it through the disposal. To perform a deeper cleaning (every 1-3 weeks depending on usage), fill the disposal with ½ cup of baking soda, 1 cup of vinegar, let it fizzle (remember science class?) and sit for ten minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain and scrub the inside of the disposal with an old toothbrush. To help odor, try blending ice cubes, lemon or lime slices, or even frozen cubes of vinegar or biodegradable cleaner.

Following these tips will help you maintain a healthy garbage disposal, but nothing lasts forever. Call Mr. Mike’s Plumbing Company for garbage disposal installation and repair or any other kitchen plumbing needs in the Calgary area, from drain cleaning to plumbing fixture installation to entire kitchen remodeling.

Share your good (or bad) experiences with garbage disposals!