In-Sink Garbage Disposals: A Bittersweet Luxury
Few things are as indicative of convenient modern living as the garbage disposal. A clean and easy way to send food scraps far-far-away without worrying about them causing odors in garbage cans or compost bins.
And while it’s a wonderful luxury to have a sink equipped to swallow food waste, when it stops working the whole sink stops draining, leaving homeowners with a bigger problem than having to place unwanted food in the garbage bin again (how antiquated!).
Inevitably, garbage disposals develop problems under sinks, in plumbing systems, and at waste treatment plants. There’s a reason sink deoderizers and a laundry list of garbage disposal cleaning techniques exist; because we can only send so many solids down a pipe before buildup causes it to shut down.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent garbage disposals from developing problems as well as ways professionals can help repair any permanent damage.
Things You Can Do Before Calling a Tacoma Plumber
If your garbage disposal is acting up, it may be due to one of these underlying issues:
Electrical problems or overloaded disposal motors – This might be causing the disposal to be unresponsive. A plumber will determine if your garbage disposal can be repaired or if you need a full replacement.
Garbage Disposal Clog – If your garbage disposal is clogged, it might be from a blockage further down the pipe. A snake should be able to clear the line without needing to replace the entire disposal.
Leaking Garbage Disposal – Worn gaskets within the drain pipe or the sink may need to be replaced. Ask your plumber if replacement in necessary before deciding to remove it.
How to Fix a Clogged or Leaking Electric Garbage Disposal
“Continuous feed” garbage disposals can suddenly become overloaded if too much junk is stuffed into the grinding chamber too fast. However, if, say, a piece of silverware is accidentally dropped into the disposal, it can cause a major malfunction that requires a plumber to safely remove the blockage and repair the damage.
Before calling a pro, check to see that the unit is plugged in (it’s obvious but surprising how often this is the issue) and that you try pressing the reset button in case the power has tripped.
However, if there is something blocking the mechanical bits, this won’t do any good. And remember to avoid putting your hand down the drain for any reason while the disposal is plugged in; all disposals are equipped with rotating knife blades that aren’t kind to sneaky hands.
Avoiding a Clogged Disposal in the First Place
Trust us, these things seem harmless, but they are the most common culprits when it comes to garbage disposal problems. Here’s what not to put into a garbage disposal, despite what your six-year-old tells you:
- Animal bones – Most disposals aren’t strong enough to break these down. Just toss in the waste bin or make your dog happy by putting the scraps in the food bowl.
- Coffee grounds – Coffee grounds don’t really break down and can lead to a clogged sink faster than you can say ‘double espresso’.
- Grease – Nope. Nope. Nope. Water will do little to rinse grease from your pipes. Do the work to pour excess grease into an aluminum can toss it when it solidifies.
- Stringy vegetables and peels – Like putting dental floss in the toilet. It doesn’t break down and will eventually tangle itself around the moving parts in the garbage disposal.
- Rice or pasta – Surprisingly, rice and pasta can wreak havoc on garbage disposals. These gather and swell in the drain causing, you guessed it, blockages.
If service or removal of a broken garbage disposal is necessary, Tacoma homeowners can contact West Coast Plumbing, Pumps & Filtration, LLC.