What Not to Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

Without a working garbage disposal, cooking and cleanup would become far more difficult. Trash would accumulate quickly, and cleaning dishes would become quite the chore. The garbage disposal is a sturdy modern convenience you rely on nearly every day but it is certainly not indestructible. Like any mechanical fixture, a garbage disposal requires maintenance in order to continue working as it should. And one of the most important parts of garbage disposal maintenance involves knowing what can and cannot go into the drain.

Garbage disposals do not have sharp “blades” as you may expect. Garbage disposals break up food into smaller pieces, since large portions of food may become stuck in the drain and lead to backup in your sink. Take care of your unit and avoid frequent calls to plumbers as well as problems with your drainage system by disposing of the following items in a separate trash receptacle.

  • Non-Food Items: A garbage disposal can take on a lot of different food items, but materials such as paper, plastic, and glass simply do not belong in your drain. Similarly, avoid hard food items such as popcorn kernels and meat bones. Your system may become overworked attempting to process these, and they can severely damage your pipes.
  • Large Amounts of Food: Garbage disposals cannot process large amounts of food. You should break apart hefty chunks of food and scrape only a bit off of your plate at a time, running cold water while you do.
  • F.O.G.: Fats, oils, and grease seem fairly harmless, but these can cause major problems in your drain pipes and for your disposal unit. These substances solidify when they cool, clogging the drain pipes as other food items become attached as well. Furthermore, it can build up along the disposal, inhibiting performance. Running cold water may help somewhat with greasy foods, as the disposal may have an easier time processing F.O.G. when it is solid.
  • Fibrous Foods: Fibrous vegetables like celery will wrap around the blades of the disposal, keeping them from moving as they should and interfering with the operation of the motor.
  • Expandable Foods: Finally, foods such as pasta and rice can expand in the pipes, creating blockages that could allow food waste to back up through the drains.

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