Your garbage disposal provides a way for you to not have to think about the food waste you put into the sink. Because of that, we don’t blame you for not spending much time thinking about the inner workings of your garbage disposal. However, there are some things we think any responsible garbage disposal owner should know if they want to prevent repairs and drain clogs.
It Doesn’t Have the “Blades” You Might Picture
Many people imagine that the garbage disposal has sharp blades, like a blender, slicing up food before sending it down the drain. Actually, the impeller’s blades aren’t very sharp. This would be tough to maintain. Rather than slicing food, the force with which they move grinds food down against a grinder plate.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should ever stick your hands in to pull out some blockage. This is still dangerous, as the impeller could switch on.
You Should Keep Stringy Foods Out
Many people know that hard food items like fruit pits and meat bones cannot go into the garbage disposal. There’s no way to break these things up, and they will either jam the motor or clog up the drains. What you might not know is that other foods can cause just as much trouble, even if they seem perfectly acceptable.
One of these food types is anything stringy or fibrous. This includes food stuff like celery, asparagus, and onion skins. Imagine a stringy remnant of celery getting wrapped around the impeller and stopping it from moving. This is certainly something you’d like to avoid.
There’s a Reset Button Underneath
One thing you may or may not already know is that there is a reset button underneath the garbage disposal. When the garbage disposal jams up, this is the first thing you should try—popping the reset button back in and seeing if this works.
If not, it can still come in handy. After shutting off the disposal, you might need to use a screwdriver under the sink to jiggle a screw that controls the impeller from underneath. Or, many people try the broom handle trick to unjam a garbage disposal from above, jiggling the handle back and forth until the impellers move. From here, you can try the reset button again and then turn on the disposal to see if this worked!
The Garbage Disposal Cannot Prevent All Drain Clogs
Certain items go through the garbage disposal just fine, without jamming up the motors, but that doesn’t mean they belong in the drains. For example, rice and pasta seem perfectly harmless to put in the sink, and indeed, the disposal should grind them into bits effortlessly. However, these are examples of expandable foods, which can expand in the drains and block movement.
The garbage disposal also cannot stop fats, oils, and grease from stopping up your drains. These seemingly harmless substances of course move down drains with ease. However, they solidify in the cold pipes and are the source of a large percentage of the biggest drain clogs we handle.