Ahh, the garbage disposal. Who doesn’t love the therapeutic sound of food ground to bits? Your kitchen sink garbage disposal is essential for keeping your pipes clear of clogs, but what do you really need to know about your garbage disposal? One thing is for certain, we miss it when it’s not working properly!
What Does A Garbage Disposal Do?
A garbage disposal is a machine that is primarily used to shred food waste into super small pieces to prevent a clogged kitchen sink. It’s electrically powered and installed under a kitchen sink between the sink’s drain and the trap. Once food is ground up, it exits the disposal through a waste valve and joins the rest of your home’s waste in the sewer.
TIP: When running the disposal, cold water is best to solidify grease and oils.
Your garbage disposal works by collecting food sent down the sink drain into a chamber inside the disposal unit. From there, solid waste is ground up when the electrical flip is switched. When you turn on the disposal, a spinning disc, or impeller plate, turns rapidly, forcing the food waste against the outer wall of the grinding chamber. This pulverizes the food into tiny bits, which then get washed by water through holes in the chamber wall. One common misconception is that garbage disposals have sharp blades, when in reality they have two blunt “teeth” called impellers. It is still not wise to stick any of those phalanges down there!
What NOT To Put Down Your Garbage Disposal
The garbage disposal is not the same as your actual garbage can so it’s smart to pay attention to what goes into it. Hard objects such as forks, pits, or fibrous food bits can cause serious damage to your disposal. Grease and oils are also a big no-no as they can cause buildup over time and clog your pipes. Other items not to be thrown into the disposal:
- Coffee grounds
- Egg shells
- Potato peels
- Seafood shells
Common Garbage Disposal Problems
* If you believe you have a problem with your garbage disposal, NEVER reach your hands inside the unit
Is your garbage disposal not working? Most garbage disposal issues occur from the disposal being jammed. This can lead to completely burning out your disposal and needing it replaced, which isn’t exactly cheap. If the garbage disposal won’t turn on but the motor makes a humming sound when you flip the switch, it indicates that the inner flywheel is jammed. Usually, this causes the appliance’s reset button to pop or the circuit breaker to trip very quickly. Food lodged in the impellers is almost always the cause of the jam.
Won’t Turn On
If you hear no humming and the disposal doesn’t click on when you flip the outlet switch, you might have an electrical problem. First, check to make sure the garbage disposal is plugged in. If it is, proceed to press the reset button found on the bottom of the unit. The reset button will be pushed out slightly if it’s been tripped.
From there, if the garbage disposal still isn’t turning on, check out the main service panel to see if the circuit breaker has been tripped. This problem can get a little complicated so if unsure, please contact a professional.
Garbage disposal leaks can occur from a number of places on a garbage disposal. Common areas include the sink flange where the disposal connects to the bottom of the sink, the hose that leads from the dishwasher to the disposal, and hose that discharges waste from the disposal to the drain system.
You may also have a leak at the dishwasher connection, the rubber hose that funnels waste water from the dishwasher to the garbage disposal. Another leak can occur at the discharge drain pipe that carries direct waste water from the disposal to the sink drain trap. An old gasket could be the cause of the problem in this instance.
With all that food constantly running through your sink, things can get a little stinky. If you’ve noticed a funky smell coming from your sink, there are a few ways to deodorize it yourself using common household items.
- Lemon and orange peels are very fragrant and can leave your sink smelling nice and fresh if you run them through the disposal!
- Combine ice cubes and salt down your garbage disposal and turn on to scrape off bits and pieces of food stuck to impellers inside the unit.
- Remember those science experiment volcanoes you used to make in school? Turns out they work wonders for giving your garbage disposal a good cleaning! Sprinkle half a cup of baking soda into the disposal and add some vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing with hot water to deodorize and clean. (Check out our video on how to clean a kitchen sink’s drain with vinegar and baking soda.)
If you’re having trouble with your garbage disposal or need one installed, call 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) today! As always feel free to call with any questions, we’d be glad to help the best we can.
Watch our very own, Paul Wright, show us step-by-step how to install a brand new Badger 1/3 Hp garbage disposal into a kitchen sink!