Often times, we think of our garbage disposals as the ultimate food removal system. Anything that can fit down there is fair game, and if it doesn’t fit? We might stuff it down there anyway and flip the switch in the hope it gets the job done. Certainly, garbage disposals are durable and practical, and an essential help in our kitchen duties as we chop, cook and clean. However, like most appliances, there are certain materials that are “kryptonite” to garbage disposals and can potentially create long-term problems. Not only will the disposal mechanism itself be damaged, but plumbing issues can occur as well. There are obvious things like bones or non-food materials that should never go down under any circumstances, but there are also less apparent items that can cause a different kind of damage. Here are the top 3 Things to Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal that will cause massive problems.
Rice is seemingly an excellent candidate to go down the disposal. It’s small and inconspicuous, soft (so the blades could work through it quite easily), and doesn’t have a strong odor. However, have you ever left rice in water for a long period of time? Rice expands many times its size and becomes a sludge monster to deal with when cleaning out your pipes and disposal. So it’s not a surprise when enough rice is poured down the mechanism it equals a clogged and non-working disposal.
Rice is what we call an “expandable” food. These types of foods usually expand with liquid and are quite damaging to the disposal and the plumbing. There are many foods that fall under this umbrella, but the main culprits that garbage disposals fear and repair person’s face are rice and all types of pasta.
Grease is an interesting one. If you decide to pour grease, oil or fat down the drain, it may take a while to notice any real difference in your disposal. However, grease is a silent killer. Over time, grease slowly accumulates and solidifies, and starts to eat away at your garbage disposal’s grinding ability and of course clogs the drain. It also mixes with other chemicals from our kitchen and sewage systems and can cause some serious issues.
Some say that if you pour grease down with cold water it would harden up quicker and solve the problem. Instead, congealing quicker in your pipes just causes a blockage quicker. Because of this, on the opposite end of the spectrum, others suggest not using hot water when grinding food waste as it will liquefy grease and accumulate later, causing more blockage. Either way, grease does not look good in the short or long term. There are even reports that suggest that grease build-ups create sewer overflows, up to 47% (36,000) that happen annually within the U.S.
In short, it’s best to get rid of the grease in your trash can, not your disposal. If it’s a small amount, put it in a sealable container and throw it away. Want an alternative solution? There are also many eco-friendly ways of using your oil: some have reused oil for cooking, or have used the grease to kill weeds or fertilize plants.
Celery may be an excellent fibrous vegetable for your daily health regime, but this food can be your garbage disposals worst enemy. You know those strings from celery that get stuck in your teeth? They have also been known to wrap around the blades of the disposal like a big, tangly mess of hair. Those same fibers cause build up and clog the system quite easily and frequently.
Think of it this way: Have you or anyone you know tried to unclog the shower from long hair? Celery and other fibrous foods act the same way, creating tangled messes. Unlike grease which is a slow build up over time, fibrous foods can instantaneously cause issues depending on the amount and the stringy texture.
Other culprits that cause similar issues? Artichokes, corn husks, onion skins, and even asparagus. All of these foods have a thick, fibrous material that cannot be easily broken down with the blades.
Interestingly, there are plenty of things that are still controversial in putting in your garbage disposal. Unlike the no-brainers (please don’t ever consider putting bones or fruit pits in the disposal. If your knife or blender can’t get the job done, neither can your disposal.) There are food items that are in a continuous discussion about what should and shouldn’t be disposed. If you’re feeling weary, it may be best to do some research and weigh out the pros and cons before throwing it all down the drain. One of the most common ones? Coffee grounds. Some say it’s best to throw them away in the trash, as it clogs up the drain over time, while others suggest it’s a good thing, as it helps eliminate odors. Other controversial foods include potato skins, carrots, eggshells, fruit scraps, and rinds.
If you find your garbage disposal is flat out broken, isn’t getting the job done like it use to, or has been simply sounding strange for a little while, waiting it out is not ideal. If there’s a problem with drainage, food build up will start to rot, or there could be larger problems that emerge while you wait. Looking for trustworthy, certified specialists who have seen it all and done it all can be a challenge. Luckily, West Coast Chief Repair can not only answer your questions and give you advice about how to handle and care for your garbage disposals, they can fix whatever it is that needs fixing. Whether it’s the high torque, an insulated electric motor, or the turntable, each part of the disposal will be inspected and fixed with detail and accuracy. Starting in 1992, with 25 years of experience, West Coast Chief Repair are your neighborhood experts and will get the job done right the first time.