The garbage disposal provides a quick and sanitary way to dispose of food waste, keeping trash bags lighter and landfills from overflowing. Because of their simplicity and solid construction, disposals are workhorses, potentially grinding away year after year. But even this venerable appliance can choke on certain items. Here are some itemes you should never put in your disposal if you want to keep it running smooth and your drains clog-free.
Coffee grounds in disposal: Don’t do it! Why? Think about what used coffee grounds look like when taken out of a filter: They reduce into a dense, thickly packed pasty wad. And that is exactly what you don’t want going in your drain lines!
Pasta expands when soaked in water. So you can see why you might not want to drop lots of pasta into your disposal and drain where it will, after all, soak in water and keep expanding.
Garbage disposals are wonderful at grinding up and disposing of food waste. Just because they can grind doesn't mean they are made to deal with extremely hard items, such as bones.
If you do drop a chicken wing or fish bone in the disposal, don’t panic. Disposals are heavy duty appliances, and can handle grinding up the occasional small bone.
Much like pasta, oatmeal is another expansion threat. Uncooked oats in particular likely to slip through the disposal untouched, only to collect and expand down-line. If you’re lucky, they’ll eventually flow out to the sewer. If you’re not … well, then it might be time to refresh your advanced drain-cleaning skills.
Handfuls of peanuts are dumped into a grinder, where they’re spun and mashed into a sticky, thick paste. And your garbage disposal can and will act as a nut grinder. Limit the amount of peanuts (and other varieties of nuts) that drop into the disposal and you’ll be far better off.
Most onion waste shouldn’t be a problem for your disposal. The problem comes with the thin membrane that lies just below the dry, outer-most layer of an onion. That thin, wet layer is often removed before the onion is chopped, and thrown into the disposal. But the layer is so thin that it can pass through the disposal, missing the blades and wind up wedged in the drain, catching more items and holding them in place.
You may have heard that it’s a good idea to drop egg shells into the garbage disposal. The idea is that the shells somehow sharpen the blades mounted on the disposal wall.
While eggs don’t do much to help your disposal blades, at least the shells themselves don’t do any damage. However, the next time you crack an egg, take a close look at the shell. You’ll see a thin membrane on the inside of the shell that can get loose and lodge in the drain or around the impeller (the rotor that throws waste against the wall-mounted blades).
I know it’s called a “garbage” disposal. That doesn’t mean that you should put all your garbage in it. Enough said!
Pumpkin and Fibrous Vegetables
Avoid transferring that mess into your garbage disposal by disposing of pumpkin guts in the trash.
The same goes for veggies like celery and rhubarb. Throw long, stringy stalks straight in the trash to keep the fibers from causing a problem, but don’t worry about small pieces. When chopped up, the fibers are small enough to not cause a problem.
Potato peels are thin enough to slip past the disposal, potentially catching in the drain. There they can cause the same issue as the egg membrane, acting like a tiny catcher’s mitt, holding up other waste and creating a clog.
Again, a few peel pieces are nothing to worry about, but many recipes call for several potatoes, and the stack of peels quickly adds up.
As a good rule of thumb, if you can’t chop it with a knife, it’s not going to grind up in the disposal.
If you do make a habit of dropping too-hard items in the disposal, it normally won’t kill the motor, but you’ll end up with a machine that isn’t disposing of waste properly. Eventually, you’ll just grow frustrated with it and end up replacing the unit.
The chemicals to avoid are harsh drain busters and industrial-grade cleaners. They can put excessive wear on your disposal and possibly even the drain line.
Instead, use ice cubes to clean off the blades, and a little dish soap to deodorize and break up any grease build-ups.
Latex or oil paint should never be poured straight down the drain. It can cling to the side of the disposal or sit in pipes, where it will begin to cure and harden into an intractable clog. A little paint heavily diluted won’t be an issue as long as it’s heavily diluted.
The robust, fibrous husk and fine threads of corn silk create a dual threat for disposals.
Hard shells from seafood such as crab, lobster, shrimp and oysters are a common garbage disposal problem. Many of these shells are far too dense to grind up properly, while the ones that might slip through (like shrimp) have a chance to catch in the drain.
If you need help installing or repairing your garbage disposal call Let Me Fix It Handyman Service at 402-401-4176 to schedule an appointment.