Thanks to technology, getting rid of kitchen waste has become a cakewalk, solely due to garbage disposal units. But like other gadgets, this too can face mechanical hiccups. We bring to you through this blog some garbage disposal maintenance tips and DIY hacks to resolve minor issues with your domestic garbage disposal unit.
What is a Garbage Disposal Unit?
The garbage disposal unit, also called waste disposal unit or a garbage disposer or a garburator, was invented in 1927 by John W Hammes, an architect working in Racine, Wisconsin. It is basically an electrically-powered device, which is installed under a kitchen sink, between the sink’s drain and the trap. It operates by shredding food waste into small pieces (less than 2 mm in diameters) to enable them to pass through plumbing.
In today’s high-tech and environment-conscious era practically every third household hosts a garbage disposer. We’ve all gotten so used to being able to throw food down our kitchen sink drain that when the means of chopping up our scraps into little pieces goes haywire, so do we!
You now understand the fundamentals of garbage disposal units. Let’s look at some garbage disposal maintenance tips to help you keep it in good working order.
Garbage Disposal Maintenance Tips
01. Quick-fixes For Garbage Disposal Unit
Before we get into fixing it, let’s talk about how you got here. Have you been misusing your garbage disposal? You know what we mean by ‘misusing’ – pouring grease into the sink when no one is looking, filling up the entire sink with stringy spinach and celery stalks before bothering to turn the disposal on?
Well, not many know that your garbage disposal unit can’t ‘digest’ coffee grounds, potato peelings or any material that when pulverized could run into a sticky paste or solid mass. These substances will clog your drain. Make it a general rule to scrape off dirty plates into the trash bin and only rinse what won’t really come off (assuming it’s safe) down the drain. There are two problems you want to avoid – clogging the mechanism of the garbage disposal; and clogging the drainpipe once the food has passed through the disposal.
02. Garbage Disposal Maintenance
Have you ever walked past the kitchen sink and smelt something really foul? It’s only natural that the garbage disposal will start to stink worse than road kill if you don’t clean it. Luckily, you don’t have to buy any special cleaner or toxic chemical to pour down the drain. In fact, you should avoid these products altogether. Just periodically feed the disposal a nice meal of ice cubes and for dessertt, put coarsely chopped citrus peel down the drain, add cold water and turn on the disposal. That’s the winning recipe to make it smell better.
If you don’t have any citrus fruit peel, try combining about six tablespoons of baking soda with one-fourth cup of vinegar and pour the solution down the drain with the disposal shut off. Once it’s done foaming, rinse it down the drain. Then every time you use the disposal, run a little cold water to flush out any remnants.
03. Repair … If You Hear a Humming Sound from Your Garbage Disposal Unit
The workings of a garbage disposal consist of a wheel that throws food into a shredder, which then flushes small bits of food into the drainpipe. If the disposal doesn’t run when you flip the switch on, but still makes a humming sound, something is probably stuck in the wheel. Well, clearing off the stuck particles from the garbage disposal unit takes only a few minutes, unless you have an electrical problem.
Stuff You’ll Need
- Allen wrench or broom handle
04. How to Fix a Stuck Garbage Disposal?
a. Shut off the main circuit that powers the disposal. Examine and make sure that the unit is powered off.
b. Use a flashlight to look into the disposal and see if you can find the obstruction. If you can, pry it out with tongs, you are halfway through, but if you cannot, then you will need to manually turn the wheel. This can be done in two ways. Look under the sink and see if your disposal has a hole in the bottom that accepts an Allen wrench (sometimes this comes with the appliance). If so, use the Allen wrench to manually turn the wheel back and forth, until it moves freely. The second option is to use the handle of a broom from above. Stick the handle into the disposal and push back and forth until you feel the wheel moving freely.
c. Turn the main circuit on. Then reach under the disposal and press the reset button. Turn on the water and flip the switch on and off a few times quickly to spin the wheel and wash whatever had been stuck down the drain.
05. Repair … If You Don’t Hear a Humming Sound from Your Garbage Disposal Unit
If you turn on the switch and the disposal unit won’t turn on and doesn’t make any humming sounds, it’s probably an electrical problem.
Turn the electrical switch off. Then press the red reset button on the disposal unit. If it still doesn’t turn on, check if the circuit breaker has tripped in the main electrical service panel. If the circuit breaker has flipped off, turn it on and try to switch on the disposal unit again. If that doesn’t work, or if the breaker hasn’t tripped, then there is either a problem with the switch or with the machine. Try replacing, the switch and then the disposal.
06. Disposal of Scrap … The Natural Way
Disposals are a great convenience, but they do contribute to sewage. Clearing the organic waste from the disposal unit can be quite a nauseating experience. Hence, always consider dumping the organic matter (like eggshells, coffee grounds and vegetable scraps) into a compost bin rather than tossing it all down the disposal unit.
Word of Caution
Never put your hand down the garbage disposal, even when you are trying to remove an obstruction with the power turned off. It’s too risky! Use tongs to pick up things if you have to.
With some extra care and attention, you can keep your garbage disposal unit running in best condition. So here’s hoping that some of the garbage disposal maintenance tips and cues shared in this blog help your garburator to operate smoothly.
Is there a leak in your garbage disposal? Once you’ve determined that the garbage disposal causes the leak, use the tips below to repair it, depending on which part of the garbage disposal is causing it –
Huta Raval – An English Literature and Journalism Topper, Huta Raval has graduated from the L D Arts College, Ahmedabad. Post serving for 23 years in the NBFC and Public Library Sectors her desire for ‘writing the unwritten’ brought her to the creative field of content writing. Her clientele comprises of NGOs, Blogging Platforms, Newspapers, Academic Institutions, et al.