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, the garbage disposal 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.
Maintaining & Using Garbage Disposal Correctly
Since a garbage disposal is a piece of equipment, maintaining and using a garbage disposal correctly may not seem like that big of a deal.
Unfortunately, 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.
At Trinity Plumbing, we believe in the importance of proactively preventing plumbing problems to keep your plumbing functioning smoothly. To aid in this effort, Robert (owner & Master Plumber) has compiled a list of maintenance plumbing tips for your kitchen (garbage disposal, drain, dishwasher, and faucets).
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.
Customer Story: 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. A garbage disposal can start making weird noises if the motor is damaged, something wrong with blades, or something is stuck.
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 garbage disposal. Unfortunately, the couple learned a valuable 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 Disconnect Power:
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 Check for Visible Problems:
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 Clean the Clog:
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 Reconnect Power:
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.
Plumber to Fix Your Broken Garbage Disposal
When 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 to replace the garbage disposal — we’re here to help.
Contact Trinity Plumbing to schedule service for your garbage disposal.