Something millions of us take for granted, garbage disposals, used to be illegal! A garbage disposal until is an electric powered device installed under the kitchen sink between the drain and the drain trap and used to shred food particles into pieces small enough to pass through plumbing and into the general septic system.
Things You Should Never Put In Your Disposal
People think a garbage disposal will grind up anything they put it in it. It won’t. Foods with long fibers, like celery or banana peels for instance, can wrap around the mechanisms and jam the machine. Even worse, they can lodge in the gears and rot, attracting bacteria and causing your disposal to stink. Here’s a short list of things to never put in a disposal:
- Celery, or any tough or fibrous vegetable, such as artichokes, onion skins and pits or seeds from any fruit. Apple peels are okay, banana peels are not.
- Rice and Pasta. They both swell when they come in contact with water and will clog up the trap.
- Egg shells. No, they don’t sharpen the blades, but they will jam your disposal.
- Animal bones. No chicken or other small bones. No disposal is strong enough to break down bones. Animal bones are one of the most common causes of disposal jams.
- Grease. Even hot grease cools and eventually will solidify and clog your drain, if not your disposal.
- Corn Husks.
- Coffee grounds.
- Flower stems or clippings.
How to Get Rid of the Smell in Your Disposal
The stinky smell coming from your disposal is caused by bacteria build up on the rubber splashguard and inside the disposal unit itself. You can buy commercial cleansers that get rid of the smell, but a more effective solution is to simply fill your disposal to the top with ice cubes and flip the switch. As the ice breaks down into little shards and crushed by the unit the ice shards scrub the unit like a brillo pad, getting rid of slimy build up in the unit. Then fill the sink with hot, even boiling water, and about ¼ cup of dish-washing detergent. Stir it up so the soap is mixed well, and then drain the hot water while keeping the faucet running until the sink is empty. Follow up with grinding some lemon or orange peels to get a fresh citrus scent and enjoy a newly fragrant, not stinky, disposal.
How to Reset Your Disposal
- Garbage disposals overheat or malfunction for a variety of reasons. And when they do they trigger a switch, just like your house’s circuit breaker does. The cure is simple. Just hit the reset button.
- If your disposal isn’t working, or was working and now isn’t, chances are it’s a switch. So, walk away for 15 to 30 minutes and let the disposal cool down.
- Check to make sure the disposal is plugged in (if yours is not directly wired into your home’s electrical system. Sometimes shoving something under the sink can knock the plug loose.
- Get a flashlight and look at the bottom of the unit for a red button that says, “Reset.” Push it in and listen for a loud click. If you hear a hum the disposal may be jammed. Using an unjamming wrench insert it into the bottom of the unit and move it around until the object is loosened and can be removed. Now, try to start the disposal again.
- (See the video below for more info.)
How to Remove a Knockout Plug
If you ever replace your garbage disposal and you or the service man forgets to remove the knockout plug, you may find your dishwasher isn’t draining. Or, you may get a new dishwasher and find it isn’t draining. (You must have a garbage disposal to have a dishwasher, by the way.) The fix is simple. Remove the knock out plug on the garbage disposal. See the video below for how to do that.
How to Remove a Spoon, Bottle cap, Twist Tie or Other Item From Disposal
Sure, the temptation to reach down into a jammed disposal and just remove that bottle cap, spoon or twist tie is great, but don’t do it. Use a pair of tongs, like you’d use to turn meat on a grill, or to pull bottles out of a canning bath. If you don’t have tongs and absolutely have to remove an item by hand:
- Shut off the circuit breaker to the unit first.
- Test the switch to make sure it’s off, and then put the switch in the off position.
- Using tongs or pliers, remove the item and then turn the breaker back on.
- Test to make sure you got the entire jam.
Maintained properly your garbage disposal will last a long, long time.