Disposing Of Your Garbage Disposal?

Posted on: November 12, 2013
By: Alan O'Neill
Posted in: Plumbing

Funny things can happen at the worst time. Having attempted a new recipe (and failed miserably), we put the whole horrible mess into the garbage dispose. A skull splitting grinding noise erupted from the sink along with a fountain of pulverized vegetables. The veggie massacre was complete – purple-y red juice dripped from every possible surface. Which raised the question – why have a garbage disposal in the first place? How do we keep it working properly?

In the US, we throw out a lot of food for all kinds of reasons. Some reports estimate that up to 40% of our food is discarded. Whether it’s a day or two past the “use by” date or the doggie bag isn’t fit to feed to the dog, we can toss it in to the garbage or use a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals perform some useful services. They can save energy by having fewer trucks driving back and forth to the dump. It’s easier to wash away the food remnants than waiting for garbage day (less stinky, too). And, by not having tempting tidbits in our trashcans, rodents and other varmints are more likely to stay away. But, disposals are only useful if they are working correctly.

Garbage disposals are designed to dispense with most of our food waste, but they can’t chew up everything. You shouldn’t put grease, stringy or starchy vegetables, undercooked rice or pasta, or bones, pits, or seeds in to the disposal. That stuff will cause jams or clogs in the pipes. Feed your disposal slowly and run cold (not hot) water at the same time to wash the remnants down the drain. Leave the water on for a few seconds after you’re finished to flush the pipes. To keep your disposal clean and smelling nice, put citrus fruit rinds into the disposal regularly or use a disposal cleaner. To sharpen the blades, put ice cubes and rock salt in it.

If, for some reason, your garbage disposal does get jammed or clogged, keep your hands (and anything else) out of the disposal. Turn off the power to the unit before you do anything else. If you can’t unplug the unit at the sink, turn off the power at the fuse box. 

If the drain is clogged, use a plunger to dislodge the blockage. Flush the line after removing the goop and debris to ensure that the clog has made its way down the drain. To flush the drain, plug the drain and fill the sink with a few of inches of water. Remove the drain plug and turn on the garbage disposal. All of the collected water should drain freely through the pipe. If the drainpipe isn’t clear, call your licensed plumber.

If the disposal is jammed, don’t just stick a broom handle down there and start whacking it around. You’ll just cause more damage. If silverware or something falls through the splashguard, use a flashlight to locate the object and use tongs to lift it out. If you can’t find it, locate the recessed hex-shaped hole in the bottom of the disposal. Insert the Allen wrench that came with the disposal. Manually turn disposal’s motor shaft first counterclockwise and then clockwise until the object is dislodged. Then remove the jammed object. The motor shaft should turn freely. Restore the power to the disposal and test the disposal to make sure it runs properly. 

If the disposal motor is still jammed, you can try to repair it with a special garbage disposal wrench, which you can get at any hardware store. Put the wrench down into the disposal from above and rotate it until it latches onto the cutter wheel inside the disposal. Turn the wrench first counterclockwise, then clockwise until the jam is cleared. Remove the wrench and plug in the disposal. Test its operation. If this doesn’t work, call your licensed plumber.

If the disposal won’t turn on, press the thermal overload button located on the bottom of the disposal and flip the wall switch again. If pressing the thermal overload doesn’t restore the power, call in a licensed professional.

Your licensed plumber is always on hand to make repairs and install a new disposal, if you need one. They also may have maintenance plans, like The Abacus Club, that can help save you money on service calls.

Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical is a full service residential contractor that has been serving the greater Houston area for over 50 years. Abacus is a member of the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce and has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau of Houston. Abacus is licensed and insured and offers 24/7 emergency service. To learn more about Abacus Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical, visit www.abacusplumbing.net or call 713-766-3605. License Numbers: ALAN O'NEILL M-20628 | TACLB82488E | TECL 30557 

Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical services the greater DFW area including, but not limited to: Houston, Humble, Baytown, Bellaire, Conroe, Katy, Spring, Sugar Land, The Woodlands and more. Check out Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical reviews or see Abacus A+ BBB to confirm Abacus is a company you can trust.

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