As we write this, most people around Olympia are recovering from two of the biggest family holidays of the year -- Thanksgiving and Christmas. Big family get-togethers mean lots of food, and lots of use of your garbage disposal. If you're finding that your kitchen sink is not draining like it should, or that your sink has a lingering smell that won't go away, there are some simple steps you can take to clean and maintain your garbage disposal. As much as we love the work, we hate to charge for a service call when there is a a simple fix that a customer can do themselves.
First of all, we'd like to mention some bad advice we've read elsewhere on the internet about maintaining your garbage disposal. We've read suggestions about purging your drain by filling your sink with a few inches of water, and then running the disposal while draining the sink. We recommend that you do not do this because it can potentially damage the seal around the drain.
Also, we've heard suggestions that if your disposal has blades that are dull, you can use glass or chicken bones to sharpen them. Please don't do this! It can cause permanent damage to your disposal. It's also just plain dangerous.
Cleaning and Sharpening Your Garbage Disposal
The only safe recommendation we give for cleaning your disposal is a combination of rock salt and ice. Simply pour about a dozen ice cubes and 1/2 cup of rock salt in the disposal, then run the disposal with cold water until it clears -- usually about 10 seconds. This mixture will remove sludge from the disposal and clean the blades and/or grinders, improving the efficiency of the disposal and removing odors.
Running the rinds of citrus fruits, like oranges or grapefruits, is also a safe and effective way to freshen up your disposal. This creates a fresh scent, and the citric acid can also help remove sludge from the inside.
Removing Objects from Your Garbage Disposal
Inevitably, something will get down your disposal that shouldn't have, such as a bone, a broken piece of glass or a piece of silverware. Aside from making a lot of noise when you run the disposal, these items prevent the disposal from working correctly, and if left in the disposal, can cause permanent damage.
The good news is that in most cases it's fairly simple to remove objects like these from your disposal:
- Turn off the electrical circuit to the disposal to prevent the risk of shock or the unit accidentally being turned on.
- Use a flashlight and a pair of kitchen tongs (not your fingers!) to locate and remove the object from disposal.
- Turn the circuit back on and try the disposal again. If you still hear unusual noise coming from the disposal, repeat the first two steps.
Replacing Your Garbage Disposal
If you have tried the steps above to improve the function of your garbage disposal and it's still not working properly, then it's time to call a professional plumber. M&M Plumbing, can safely troubleshoot your disposal, or if necessary replace it with a new model.
We feature Insinkerator garbage disposals and can bring the best model for your needs and budget. We are a preferred dealer for the Insinkerator brand and also offer extended warranties for free on some models.
Alternately, if you have another brand or model you prefer, we are happy to install others for you. We suggest giving us a call before you purchase another model -- we know the best brands and can also suggest whether the particular model you are choosing is rated well and is powerful enough for your needs.
Give our do-it-yourself garbage disposal troubleshooting tips a try. If you're uncomfortable doing these things yourself, or you've tried them and the disposal is still not working properly, then call us M&M Plumbing, your local, family-owned, Olympia plumber, for help with repair, replacement or installation of your garbage disposal.