4 Things You Should Never Put Down the Garbage Disposal

Cooking a special Valentine’s Day meal for your sweetie? Don’t end up having to interrupt your romantic weekend with a plumbing appointment for your garbage disposal. They are great clean-up tools, but you should know that they are not invincible.

How a Garbage Disposal Actually Works

It’s a common misconception that garbage disposals involve spinning blades that chop up your waste like a blender. They actually use a device called impellers: small rotating devices that help propel waste up against a spinning shredding ring. The shredding ring is sharp enough and fast enough to ground most garbage quite finely, and then water from your sink flushes it down into your waste pipe. This video from InSinkErator provides a great visual explanation.

Because it’s not really possible to sharpen those shredding rings, it’s important to keep them clean and well-maintained. Here are 4 things you should never put down your garbage disposal.

1) Grease

You might be able to pour leftover grease, fat, or oil down the sink right after you’ve used it, but it will solidify eventually (quite quickly, if you do this during one of Chicago’s winters) and clog your drains. Grease can also form a film over your shredding ring, which will make it ineffective no matter how loud your garbage disposal continues to sound.

2) Bones, fruit pits, and other hard items

Remember: your garbage disposal doesn’t have blender-like blades to chop things up (and a blender likely couldn’t handle things like this anyway.) Even if they do make it down into your disposal, items like this are bad news for your pipes, so make sure this sort of waste ends up in your trash bin.

3) Pasta, rice, potatoes, and other starchy items

Often, people like to toss these small and soft scraps into the sink. But pasta and rice will expand in water, even if they have already been cooked. And potato peels or beans have so much starch content that they can create a thick paste that clogs drains or causes the shredding ring to stick.

4) Chunks of citrus fruit

Another often-repeated trick to clean your garbage disposal is to cut up half a lemon or an orange and put it down the sink. We love the smell of citrus too! But this trick doesn’t actually provide much cleaning power and it is too much for your garbage disposal’s shredding ring to handle. Keep this away from the garbage disposal and take it to the trash.

When to Contact a Plumber

Accidents happen. We get it! Garbage disposals can be expensive, and it is usually better to get a repair than a replacement, if possible.

So if you start to notice unusual sounds (like a humming noise or no noise at all), leaking, or suspect a jam, call Flatley’s Plumbing Express today. Never attempt to manually unclog a jammed garbage disposal – let our experienced and efficient plumbers handle it for you.

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