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Problems With Garbage Disposals

We’ve always had a love-hate relationship with garbage disposals. Consumers love them so you have to offer them if you’re a service contractor or a residential plumbing contractor. So what causes a clog to occur? There are multiple factors that cause this to happen. The following will describe how and why they occur.

Blockages are not always the result of the user doing something wrong, improper installation can just as easily cause a problem. Let’s take a look at some types of blockages and the different ways to remedy them.

Garbage Disposalsgarbage disposals

Many people think of the kitchen sink as a trash can. This is far from the truth. Even though you might  have a garbage disposal it doesn’t mean you can put anything down it that fits. All that food waste that gets ground up still has to travel through the same piping everything else flows through.

Garbage disposals are useful appliances if used properly however there are many items that should not be fed into a garbage disposal. Fat/grease is one of the primary causes of kitchen blockages and it can certainly contribute to blockages in a garbage disposal .

When grease is warm it flows like water. As the grease cools it eventually solidifies and deposits it self in the pipes (much like a clogged artery). This grease then causes a build up which in time causes a clog.

Starchy foods are also items that can cause clogs. Items like rice,potatoes and pasta have a tendency to thicken when put into a garbage disposal. Fibrous foods like celery and banana peels also present a unique problem. These foods are made up of long strands of fiber. When these foods are put into a garbage disposal they can get tangled up and act like a net in a drain pipe and catch all the waste going down the pipes. Bones which are small in size can be put into a garbage disposal on a limited basis.

There are a few different ways to clean a garbage disposal. One way is to run ice in the garbage disposal. Fill the garbage disposal with ice, start running cold water and turn on the garbage disposal until grinding stops.

Another way to clean a disposal is put a lemon in the garbage disposal run water and turn the disposal on until grinding stops. Remember to run water before, during, and after the use of the garbage disposal.

Using the proper amount of water is probably the most important step to implement to ensure proper disposal function and clear kitchen waste lines.

Troubleshooting a garbage disposal

Here are two common problems that occur with garbage disposals. If the disposal is humming but not spinning it is possible that the disposal is jammed with an object that does not belong in it.

Before any attempt is made to do any repairs on a garbage disposal flywheel MAKE SURE IT’S TURNED OFF AT THE BREAKER. Do not ever put your hand inside the garbage disposal.

First you can insert an allen wrench into the center of the bottom of the disposal. While the allen wrench is inserted move the wrench in a clockwise and counter clockwise motion until it is spinning freely. Once it is free remove the wrench from the bottom. You can also use a thick wooden spoon or broom handle to try and dislodge the blockage. Again if the blockage is freed the flywheel will spin freely.

Use a flashlight to inspect the inside of the disposal and look for the object that does not belong inside it. If you do find something inside use a fork or narrow tongs to remove the object. Turn the water on and hopefully you have a functioning garbage disposal. If you hear a grinding noise the object is still in there.

Another common problem is no noise what so ever when you turn the disposal on. Most garbage disposals have a reset located some where on the bottom. The reset is normally red and will stick out from the bottom of the disposal. Push the reset in and then test the disposal.

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