Garbage Disposal Use & Care
Few kitchen appliances get as much use as the garbage disposal. And over the years, common issues such as jamming and leaking can occur with garbage disposals.
However, a disposal not operated properly or maintained can break down and cause plumbing issues – leading to costly repairs.
Angie’s List, the nation’s premier provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated plumbers about properly using your garbage disposal to keep it running efficiently.
- Use disposal properly: Turn the cold water on, let it run for 10-15 seconds, turn the disposal on, start to feed the unit bits at a time until all the food is gone and let the water run for another 30 seconds to clear it all out and get it all down the drain.
- Do not overload: Cut large food items into small pieces and put them into the garbage disposal slowly one at a time.
- Use cold water: Grind food with cold water. Hot water can melt fat, which can clog your pipes.
- Avoid certain items: The disposal is meant for food only – avoid glass, rubber and bones. Avoid stringy vegetables such as celery. Celery doesn’t get chopped up in the disposal. Instead the strings wrap around the blades and can eventually stop them from working.
- Run the garbage disposal frequently: If you don’t run the disposal for several days, or weeks, the blades will rust and corrode.
- Keep it clean: Toss several pieces of ice down the disposal to help sharpen the blade and add a few pieces of cut up lemon to help remove odors.
- Simple remedies: If your disposal won’t turn on, try to reset it. Most models come with a reset button on the bottom of the garbage disposal, underneath your sink. For a disposal that is jammed, some models have tool for you to crank yourself. The tool goes into the bottom of the unit and you can turn the inside part that actually spins. Never put your hands in the drain. If you are still having issues, consult with a plumber.
Garbage disposals start around $50, but some models can cost up to $250. When it’s time to get a new disposal, do some quick math. If you plan to spend more than five years in your home, it will pay to buy a higher end model. They are quiet, more powerful, and can last longer than a lower end model - up to 10 to 20 years if used properly.
Installing a garbage disposal, whether you’re replacing an existing unit or putting in your first one – is a job better left to a professional. A plumber can help replace your unit, but if your home is not set up for a disposal you’ll need a pro to add plumbing and wiring.
Angie’s List tips for hiring a plumber:
- Licensed & insured? If required in your state, check to make sure a plumber’s license is current and check if there are any complaints against the license. Any plumber you hire should have a minimum of $500,000 liability insurance and a current workers’ compensation policy.
- Ask about rates: Plumbers either charge by the hour or job. For basic plumbing services, such as leak repair – expect pay at least $50 per hour for a service call, then at least $60 each additional hour. Some highly rated companies said they charged as much as $100 per hour. For weekend or after hour calls, expect to pay time and a half.
- Spell out the project in the contract: The quote should provide a written estimate that includes payment terms, a materials list and any additional agreements related to the project.
- You got a permit for that? Are there certain permits required to do the work? If so, check with your plumber that he/she will obtain these permits.
- Plumbing service contracts: Some plumbers offer service agreements that offer an annual inspection into your home’s plumbing – including checking the garbage disposal.
- Once you find a good plumber, keep him/her: In an emergency, it’s better to call someone who already knows you. Once you find a plumber you are satisfied with, keep his/her number handy.