When it comes to keeping a kitchen clean and getting rid of food waste, a garbage disposal can provide a lot of help.  If it is not operated or maintained correctly, however, it can easily develop problems that can affect the way it operates.

How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?

In the simplest of terms, a garbage disposal is a device that has a small electric motor that turns rows of small blades that shred and chew up food scraps when they are sent down the drain.

Garbage disposals are generally hardwired or plugged into a 120-volt receptacle, which is typically located toward the back of the sink cabinet.

When operating correctly, the food goes into the grinding part of the garbage disposal where it is shredded into tiny pieces, then continues down the drain line into the sewer system.


Meet Chuck and Nancy of Marietta

Since a garbage disposal is a simple piece of equipment, maintaining and using a garbage disposal correctly may not seem like that big of a deal.

Unfortunately, for Chuck and his wife, Nancy, they found out the hard way how important this really is after they hosted a New Year’s Eve party in their new home in Marietta.

Chuck says that since they had never had a garbage disposal before, they never really thought about what they should or shouldn’t put in it.

After putting a variety of leftover food items down the sink, including shrimp shells, nuts, and even some pieces of an artichoke (after making an artichoke dip), their garbage disposal started making a very strange noise.

When Bad Things Happen to Good Garbage Disposals

When you have a simple clog, the method below will usually work to fix the problem. In some cases, however, the problem may be more complex.

Although Chuck and Nancy’s New Year’s buffet might have been a big hit with their guests, the combination of the three items together along with some other items they had been sending down the drain ever since they moved in, had all worked together to do quite the number on their garbage disposal.

Not only had the food items created a clog in the garbage disposal – since they often used the device without always running water through it, the motor had become damaged as well.

After Trinity Plumbing diagnosed the problem and understood more about what had occurred, it was determined that the best course of action was to replace the unit and the couple learned a valuable, yet expensive lesson about mistreating their garbage disposal.


How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

While some garbage disposal problems, such as Chuck and Nancy’s, turn out to be more complex, most issues are caused by a drain clog in the garbage disposal and are usually able to easily be fixed.

Below are a few steps you can try.

4 Steps to Unclog a Garbage Disposal

#1 Unplug the garbage disposal or turn off the circuit breaker connected to it. Never try to work on a garbage disposal that still has power.

#2 Shine a flashlight down the drain. You may be able to see what is causing the problem, such as a bone or other foreign object. Use a pair of needle nose pliers or pair of tongs to reach the object and remove it from the garbage disposal.

#3 Try a natural cleaner to unclog the garbage disposal. Pour about ¼ cup of baking soda into the garbage disposal followed by a ½ cup of vinegar. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then run hot water down to the garbage disposal to help loosen up the clog.

#4 Plug the garbage disposal back in or turn the power to it back on. Run some more water and turn the garbage disposal back on.   


Do You Need a Plumber to Fix Your Broken Garbage Disposal?

If your garbage disposal isn’t working correctly and you’ve tried the steps to unclog it, there may be something more serious going on, such as an electrical issue or the motor may have even gone out. If that’s the case, and you need a new one — we’re here to help.

Trinity Plumbing is available 24/7 for emergencies and we provide a $25 discount on all service calls for first time customers. Plus, we’ll give you a free estimate right up front, so you’ll know the cost before we ever start the job.

Call us today at (770) 480-7687 today to schedule an appointment.