Garbage Disposals and the Problems They Can Have

Garbage disposals help keep our drain pipes clean and safe. They also prevent odors from food scraps. But if not used properly, they can cause some problems like clogging or jamming. 

Some foods aren’t meant for your disposal like banana peels (super fibrous) or corn husks (they expand). You should also avoid pouring grease and other super fatty foods down the drain or into your garbage disposal. 

Clogs 

Putting food scraps down the disposal can clog your plumbing system over time, especially if your house has a septic system rather than municipal sewer lines. The disposal grinds the scraps, but they can still clog pipes. 

Fibrous foods like artichokes, asparagus, rhubarb, corn husks, and potato peels can tangle around the disposal’s blades or wrap around the shredder’s teeth and cause them to jam. Hard or thick bones are too big for the disposal to break down and can 

clog the drain. Egg shells contain a membrane that can wind around the disposal’s mechanisms and jam it. 

Pouring fats, oils, grease, and coffee grounds down the disposal can also lead to clogs. To avoid them, run water and detergent through the disposal after every use to flush away any build-up. Also, make sure you’re using plenty of cold water when the disposal is running. It’s important to note that it’s not a good idea to stick your hand in the disposal even when it’s turned off. 

Leaks 

Garbage disposals are a handy kitchen tool but they’re not designed to handle everything. Stringy, fibrous foods like asparagus, corn husks and celery, along with meat waste, can wrap around the blade and cause it to jam or clog. Fats, including butter, shortening and lard can also clog and foul sink drains. These foods also put additional strain on septic systems. 

If you’re noticing leaking from the bottom of your garbage disposal, it’s time to call the pros. This is usually a sign that one of the seals in the inside of your garbage disposal has failed, and it’s likely that you’ll need to replace it entirely. You might also need to disassemble the unit to find the source of the leak. Attempting this project without the right tools could lead to serious injury or damage. Plumbers are experienced with home improvement projects of all sizes. Contact one today to schedule an appointment if you have any leaks.

Overheating 

Garbage disposals grind and shred food scraps into tiny bits so they can flow through pipes more easily. However, they can be overworked and overheated by putting in tough materials like metals, stringy foods and fats. The resulting gunk

may block the drain and cause a clog. 

If the disposal is humming and not working, it’s likely that its circuit breaker or GFCI outlet has tripped to protect the motor from overheating. Turn it back on and look for a red button that’s flush to the bottom of the disposal—if it doesn’t stay up, it means there is a physical or electrical obstruction and you will need professional help to resolve it. 

To avoid these problems, make sure to only put into the disposal items that it can handle. For instance, avoid putting coffee grounds, hot grease or shells into the disposal as these can clog your drains and cause severe damage to the unit. 

Damage 

If you’re hearing a new, metal-sounding noise in your disposal, it’s likely an obstruction is jamming the blades. If you don’t find anything obvious, you may need to turn off the unit, take it apart and clean it as needed. 

Stringy, fibrous waste like celery stalks, asparagus, banana peels and corn husks can tangle around the disposal’s shredder and clog the drain pipe. Large seeds and pits from fruits such as nectarines, cherries, peaches and durian can also clog your pipes. Fats and grease can build up in the disposal’s drain trap, reducing the efficiency of the motor and causing foul odors. 

If you’re constantly having to reset your disposal or flipping the breaker switch on and off, it’s likely time to replace it. This could also indicate it’s overheating or leaking. A leaking disposal is usually due to the sink flange seal (often made of plumber’s putty) wearing out. It’s important to detach the disposal, remove the old putty and reseal with a fresh plumber’s putty. If all else fails, you may need to get in touch with a plumber in Melbourne and they will be sure to help solve the problem.

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