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How to Care for Your Garbage Disposal

Kitchen sink with a sponge and running waterA garbage disposal is a relatively simple machine that generally operates problem-free for many years. When running properly, a garbage disposal is a handy appliance to have because it makes cleaning up after a meal easy, reduces the amount of trash in a landfill, and can keep your sink clean.

However, when it’s not working properly, it can cause quite a stink. When it leaks, stinks too much or its motor burns up, it may be time to look into replacing it. You will know when there is a problem with a disposal, and most of the time, it’s because food has caused a jam or clog.

Over time, food, grease, and other debris will build up in a garbage disposal. Normally, this buildup is caused by not using enough water while running the disposal. Throughout the years, food and grease build-up, no matter how well you clean a disposal.

Here are a few tips on how to care for your garbage disposal properly:

  1. Consult your owner’s manual for proper care. Make sure you know the proper way to take care of a disposal and which foods should not be thrown into it. Also know that clogs do happen, even when you’re careful about the foods you place in it.
  2. Before doing any work, make sure the disposal is turned off and unplugged. Figure out where the breaker for the garbage disposal is located, then turn the power off at the breaker before attempting to clean or unclog a disposal.
  3. Clean inside the disposal, but don’t put your hands in it. It’s always a good idea to wear heavy-duty work gloves when working on a disposal.
  4. Avoid disposing hard or fibrous foods down a disposal.
  5. Use plenty of water. Every time you run your disposal, turn on the cold water while the food is being chopped up.
  6. Use cold water. Hot water won’t damage the parts, but cold water is better.
  7. Use crushed ice to clean your disposal or even clear a minor clog. Ice sharpens the blades and breaks up any grease build-up. Bleach and cut-up apples also work well to clean and deodorize your disposal.

Here are the top seven items NOT to put in a garbage disposal:

  • Vegetable peels and skins
  • Grease
  • Citrus rinds
  • Eggshells
  • Bones
  • Coffee grounds
  • Meat scraps

Many vegetables can be too stringy or fibrous to be mashed up and can cause a clogged drain. Meat scraps are a bad idea because they can contain bone and be too fibrous as well, causing parts to wrap around the blades of the disposal.

Garbage disposals can last between five and 10 years, depending on the quality of the appliance and the amount of time it gets used. When a disposal is not operated or maintained properly, it can easily break down or clog and become a plumbing nightmare for a homeowner.

Follow the above tips for simple maintenance, but if these solutions don’t work, then it may be time to call a professional.

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