how to maintain garbage disposal

How Does a Garbage Disposal Work and How to Maintain Garbage Disposals

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Garbage disposal is a great way to reduce the food waste you produce. It can also help to keep your drain and plumbing in good condition by preventing clogs. Most garbage disposals are relatively easy to install and use. However, it is important to use them properly to avoid damaging your drains or injury. Are you wondering “How does a garbage disposal work?” or how to maintain garbage disposals? Let’s review this essential kitchen appliance.

How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?

An in-sink garbage disposal shreds food into tiny pieces that flow away with the running water. A common kitchen sink would normally have the garbage disposal installed in the drain below. The unit would be above the trap and controlled by a power switch. If there is an issue with a jam, the switch may be turned on to verify that power is available. The electric motor is also positioned below the sink. Thoroughly flushing the sink drain with running water can help to keep the tiny shreds of food moving in the system.

how does a garbage disposal work

The hopper is the visible top part of the garbage disposal where the food waste begins the journey down the sink drain. The floating food is initially cut by a shredder ring with sharp slots. A turntable is positioned in the center of the shredder ring. The food is placed on the turntable to begin the process. The turntable has tiny swiveling impellers which use centrifugal force to continuously push the floating food waste toward the surrounding shredder ring. The impellers create the swirl as they swiftly spin the food in the water. The tiny whirlpool sends the food into the shredder ring. The food is shredded through the vortex and washed down the sink drain with the running water.

Are Garbage Disposals Bad for Plumbing?

As long as a garbage disposal is operated correctly and with caution, they do not pose any harm to your plumbing. However, caution should be used with any grease in the sink which may cause the tiny pieces of food to stick. Clogged drains will be more difficult to handle because the unit blocks direct access to the trap. Jammed garbage disposals are the most common complaint for this appliance. Protective work gloves and safety glasses should be worn while using a tool to clear any jam. Make sure to check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to clear a clog or jam your garbage disposal model.

How to Maintain Garbage Disposals

Having an in-sink garbage disposal can save time and money. However, like any other appliance, in-sink garbage disposal needs to be properly maintained. Let’s review some tips on how to maintain garbage disposals.

tips for maintaining garbage disposal

Tips for Maintaining an In-Sink Garbage Disposal

  1. Use the garbage disposal regularly. Lack of use can lead to rust, clogs, and corrosion.
  2. Only use cold water when running your in-sink garbage disposal. Cold water hardens fat and grease, which can then be ground and run through the system. Using hot water dissolves grease and fats. Dissolved grease and fats do not completely move through the system and remain in the line, where they sit and harden. The drain line then becomes clogged. Run the water until all food has been ground.
  3. Do not put shells or husks down the garbage disposal. This includes oyster and clam shells, corn husks, onion peels, and celery stalks. Corn husks can wrap around the blades of your in-sink garbage disposal, causing the blades to become immobile and the motor to burn out. Clam and oyster shells cannot be successfully ground.
  4. To keep your blades sharp and clean on your in-sink garbage disposal, run ice cubes down the disposal every two weeks. Once a month, freeze vinegar into cubes and run the vinegar cubes through the disposal. This will prevent rust build-up.
  5. Only put food down your in-sink garbage disposal. The most common items found in clogged garbage disposals are: silverware, bottle caps, plastic storage lids, aluminum cans, and aluminum foil. Putting any of these items down your in-sink garbage disposal can result in broken garbage disposal.
  6. Never use any type of chemical in your in-sink garbage disposal. Bleach and other harsh chemicals can eat away at the blades and the lines. Run citrus peels, such as lemon and orange, through the disposal to rid your garbage disposal of foul odors.
  7. Don’t run the dishwasher and the garbage disposal at the same time. Dishwashers and in-sink garbage disposals share the same line. Running them together may result in the food from the garbage disposal being thrown into the dishwasher.

Why Does My Garbage Disposal Smell Bad?

If your garbage disposal smells bad, there are a few possible reasons. First, food particles can get trapped in the blades and start to rot. This can happen if you don’t run the disposal after each use. A build-up of grease and oil can also cause smells. This is because grease and oil can go rancid over time. Finally, your garbage disposal may harbor bacteria causing the smell. This is usually the case if you have never cleaned your garbage disposal. You can clean the disposal with vinegar and water to eliminate the bad smell. You can also use a garbage disposal cleaner to remove any build-up in the blades.

Tampa appliance repair specialists can repair most brands and models of in-sink garbage disposals. We can help you with issues such as poor shredding, water leaks, noisy units, and machines that fail to operate properly. Contact us at (813) 288-1900 or (727) 822-2600. For a list of the locations where we provide services, please go to our Areas of Service.

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