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Some people may think of garbage disposals as a luxury item but many others think of them as an absolute necessity for any well-equipped modern-day kitchen. The fact is, however, that no matter how you look at it, when it becomes clogged, it’s no longer a luxury but an appliance that is sorely missed if it’s out of commission. So we share a few actionable tips on how you can clean your garbage disposals when they get clogged. Read on to find out.
Causes of Garbage Disposal Clogging
There are a number of common foods that should never go in your garbage disposal because they can cause clogs, including:
- Asparagus – This veggie has fibrous strings that can tangle the blades.
- Bones – They keep spinning round and round and, even when they go down, they can get stuck in the drain pipe.
- Celery – Fibrous strings can tangle in the disposal’s blades.
- Coffee grounds – They can be deceptive, look like they went down, but they didn’t and can pile up inside your drain.
- Corn husks and silk – They also have fibrous strings that can tangle the blades.
- Eggshells – Their membrane linings can stick to your disposal’s sides, wrapping around the blades and causing clogs.
- Fruit pits – If you’ve ever tried cutting through an avocado seed or peach pit, then you know that the disposal can’t do it either.
- Grease – Any grease and oil can likely end up clogging your pipes and it’s definitely not pretty.
- Pasta – From spaghetti to linguine, and even rice, it can continue to expand when you expose it to water, even when it’s fully cooked, clogging your garbage disposal trap or even causing bigger problems.
- Potato peels, all beans, and other starchy vegetables – They all can cause a clogged-up mess in your disposal.
Unclogging Your Garbage Disposal
No matter how careful you are about what you’re putting in your garbage disposal, sometimes clogs will still happen. Here are are a few simple methods for unclogging it:
Positive Vortex Method
Turn on the water to the garbage disposal. While it’s running, turn your disposal on and off a few times. This will create a positive vortex via the spinning blades action and will force water past your disposal unit and then down the drain pipe. In most cases, this clears small clogs and you won’t need to take any further action. If the clog still remains, however, you may need to try another method.
Vinegar & Baking Soda Method
Start by pouring 1/4 cup of baking soda down the garbage disposal, following with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture fizz for a few minutes, then running the faucet on hot down the drain. Do that for two or three minutes, repeating if necessary.
Fill your kitchen sink about 1/4 full of water and place the plunger over your drain hole, plunging up and down rapidly just like you would if you were plunging a toilet. The water pressure exerted by the plunging surges through your disposal, free the clog. After the clog is freed up, turn on your disposal and then run some hot water through it. This will help by flushing the remainder of that clog right down the drain.
Broom Handle Method
With the switch turned off, insert a broomstick into the top of your garbage disposal unit. When the end of the stick is resting against one of the impeller arms, push it against the arm, turning the impeller plate and thereby freeing up the disposal. Remove the broom handle and then check to see if your disposal is working now. Be sure to never push down when performing this operation as it could cause a major leak when the disposal is subjected to downward force.
Hex Wrench Method
Garbage disposal units come with a hex wrench, which fits into the hex fitting located on the bottom of the unit in the center. Insert the wrench and move it back and forth until it turns freely in both directions.
Reset Button Method
If the disposal doesn’t work after trying other methods, then locating the red reset button on the bottom of your disposal unit is your next step. It’s adjacent to your hex fitting, and you just have to press it in firmly.Then, you should turn the switch on again. Your disposal should come on again unless your motor has become burned out, which means that you will have to replace it.
Don’t ever put your hand into the opening of your garbage disposal. Even if you have turned off the power switch, those blades are extremely sharp and could easily cut your hand.
A Few Things to Know About Garbage Disposals
Ever since a Wisconsin architect named John W. Hammes invented the InSinkErator in 1927, patented it in 1935, and it hit the market in 1940, garbage disposals have been a big part of the everyday lives of many Americans. Once thought of by many consumers as a luxury, they’re now an indispensable fixture in any modern kitchen.
Average Life Expectancy
Every garbage disposal has a life expectancy just like any other appliance and, of course, it depends in a large part on how it’s used and maintained. A typical average lifespan is 12 years, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. That number was calculated based on normal wear-and-tear with no overuse, abuse, or neglect. Understanding this can help homeowners with planning for any repair costs and future maintenance. So, here are some tips and hints on maintaining garbage disposals to keep them working properly and avoiding clogs.
Garbage Disposal Facts
The unit is made up of cutting blades, impellers, a flywheel, and a motor for running it all. When the flywheel spins at approximately 2,000 rpm, it flings the food waste against the canister sides. The impellers are then responsible for partially grinding the food and guiding it into the blades, and then they pulverize it, making a slurry that will drain easily. Basically, all food must fit into the gap between the canister and the flywheel if it is going get down the drain. That’s where it will usually get stuck and then the flywheel stops spinning freely and the disposal quits working.
Garbage Disposal Operating Basics
The correct method for using your disposal is to begin by turning the cold water on and letting it run for about 15-seconds. Then, while it’s still running, the next step is to flip the switch, turning on the disposal. Next, feed the appropriate foods slowly into the disposal and, once the grinding stops and the food is flushed down your drain, you can turn off the disposal. Be sure to wait for 30-seconds with the water running, thereby ensuring that your disposal is all- clear, and only then turning off the water.