How to Avoid Clogging Your Garbage Disposal

At Liberty Plumbing, we install and repair garbage disposals. Having said that, there are certain things you should avoid putting into yours, so that it lasts as long as possible.

Despite the fact that it is called a “garbage disposal,” it isn’t a wise idea to throw all your food waste down it.  Even though the blades can grind through almost anything, you may encounter plumbing issues depending on the type of food you dispose of.

What Items Should You Avoid Putting Down Your Garbage Disposal?

Large quantities of starchy foods and fibrous vegetables (like celery, corn husks, and asparagus) may cause clogs. Here are some additional items that you should NOT put down your garbage disposal:

Here are things you should not put in a garbage disposal:

  • Coffee grounds: This is one of the biggest no-no’s when it comes to a garbage disposal or any drainage system. When coffee grounds enter the drain, it forms a thick and dense paste. If too much goes down the drain, it can create a clog or slow down the draining process. It is best to dispose of them in your compost bin or use them in your garden.
  • Grease and fats: Fats and grease are one of the most important items to not put down a garbage disposal. As fats cool down, they solidify. Without proper flushing that pushes the fats further down the line, it can sit on the bottom of the disposal unit, creating drainage and clog issues. You should avoid running fats and grease down the disposal; however, fat can be inevitable for some common food like salad dressing, etc. Be sure to run the food scraps down the drain with cold water so the fat can remain solid as it passes through the disposal and into the drain pipes.
  • Eggshells are a common mistake to put down a disposal. A common myth is that eggshells can help sharpen the blades. While the shells do not have a major positive or negative impact on the disposal blades, the membrane on the inside of the shells is a different story. This is the thin coating found inside of an eggshell. It can wrap itself around the blades of the disposal, get loose and lodged into the impeller or create a sticky blockage inside your plumbing.
  • Onion Skins: Similar to an eggshell, onion skins also have a skin membrane on the inside of the skin. Because this layer of membrane is quite thin and wet, it can easily get through the blades and end up wedged in the drain that can cause a blockage. Similarly, potato peels can also cause a barrier in a sink trap which could lead to a clog.
  • Hard Foods: Bones, nuts, pits, and other hard food scraps are too tough for disposal blades to cut through. This can cause the blades to jam or damage them significantly.
  • Dry Expandable Foods: Foods which expand in water like pasta, oats, and rice will continue to expand in a sink’s plumbing system, leading to an eventual clog. Like most food scraps, if it’s a small piece or a few left on a plate after your meal, it should be fine to run through the disposal. Again, please keep in mind to run the food with cold water to flush it through the trap and into the main sewer line. This will prevent the food from staying and expanding at the bottom of the unit, causing a future blockage.

So, what can you put in the disposal? Citrus rinds, cooked meat scraps (not large bones), wet canned dog or cat food, and virtually all fruits are safe.

When it is Time to Repair or Replace a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals can last for about 10 years or so with good care. However, if you believe that your garbage disposal is broken, it is important to call in a professional. Repair of a garbage disposal unit is not an easy matter and can potentially become a safety hazard to inexperienced homeowners. Knowing whether the system is simply clogged or a major problem with the system’s motor can be the difference between wasting time and proper troubleshooting for repair.

At Liberty Plumbing, we are able to unclog units, diagnose problems with the power supply, properly stop leaking, disassemble and reassemble systems and get it all working again. Many other problems with the system can also be assessed and worked on by our skilled tradesmen.

In addition, if your garbage disposal system is beyond repair or if you would like to install a new one, we can successfully install a new garbage disposal unit in your home or office kitchen. Please contact us to learn more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *