We often take plumbing for granted. This is simply a reality. It’s always there when we need it. It typically works flawlessly 99% of the time. And it makes our lives so much easier, even if we don’t always recognize it. With all this said, one piece of your plumbing system that always provides convenience is the garbage disposal. By preventing our drains from being clogged up and assisting in washing dishes, it’s a valuable asset!
As Kansas City plumbers, garbage disposals continue to be the appliance that results in the most service calls each and every year. Whether that be due to a clog from something (that shouldn’t have been) being put into the disposal or just a flat-out break, the garbage disposal certainly isn’t invincible.
This week on our weekly plumbing blog, we’d like to examine some common questions we receive each year on garbage disposals. Some of these will debunk misconceptions, while others will hopefully help you out in keeping your disposal operating smoothly. Now let’s get started and answer some frequently answered garbage disposal questions.
Are garbage disposals as dangerous as they seem?
Most people believe that garbage disposals are very dangerous. With sharp blades spinning around, this is definitely a valid statement and they definitely possess the potential to chop off a finger. Did you know though that most of the units on the market today are actually getting more user friendly? While we wouldn’t recommend letting young children around them, it can be noted that the majority of the demolition by a garbage disposal is completed by a rotating hammer that doesn’t put forth incredible force. So, in conclusion, while we’re not encouraging you to stick your hand down the disposal, it can be done with the right amount of caution. Most importantly, always make sure it’s turned off.
What size of garbage disposal should I buy for my house?
Another big question we get asked frequently deals with shopping for your new garbage disposal. Throughout recent years, we’ve seen the market quickly expand with a wide variety of options. The main attribute you’ll want to analyze is the horsepower. The market is divided between residential and commercial grade garbage disposals. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the residential side, which is broken up into three sizes:
- ½ horsepower: This is going to be your least expensive option when it comes to disposals. We would recommend this model for most apartments. It doesn’t possess a lot of power, but enough for one or two occupants.
- ¾ horsepower: Next up, you have the ¾ horsepower. This size is going to be a good fit for single family homes that have fairly consistent usage.
- 1 horsepower: Our final garbage disposal size is primed for large families, kitchens that have more traffic than a typical-sized family or even smaller commercial operations. It has a little more pop to it and can take care of some items that might clog up the lesser-powered alternatives.
What can and can’t be put into a garbage disposal?
We always like to tell homeowners there are certain items that should never be put into a garbage disposal, no matter how much horsepower your garbage disposal has! While we compiled a more extensive list of no-no’s in a previous blog post, here’s a brief list that you should ALWAYS keep in mind!
- Grease: No matter what state the grease is in, it should never be put down the garbage disposal. Even if it’s cooled down, liquid, or anything else! It will immediately harden and create a clog in your pipes.
- Fibrous Foods: Any foods like celery, corn husks and other fibrous foods are a definite no-no!
- Pasta: Pasta tends to get attached to the impellers, thus creating a clog that picks up other food particles going down the disposal.
What are the best ways to maintain a disposal?
As mentioned in the introduction, clogged garbage disposals are one of the top reasons Kansas City homeowners call us each year. While we’re making the repairs, we like to provide some tips on how you can prevent these plumbing miscues in the future. Here’s a few quick tips to keep in mind for regular maintenance:
- Consistent Usage: Just like a car battery, it’s important to regularly run your garbage disposal to prevent it from going bad.
- Keep the Impellers Clean: A couple of weeks ago, we debunked the myth of ice cubes being able to sharpen the blades, but they can clean them! Every few months, run some ice cubes through it to prevent any funky smells from starting up!
- Run Disposal a Little While Longer: Whenever you’re using your garbage disposal, let it run for a few seconds longer after it sounds like all of the food has been ground up. This will allow for any extra particles to find their way down the pipes.
- Never Fill the Disposal: If you ever have a lot of food backed up that you need to run through the garbage disposal, make sure to do it gradually. If you cram it all in, then don’t be surprised if you face some issues!
Cold Water or Hot Water?
We often get the question of whether homeowners should run hot water or cold water when using their garbage disposal. While grease and fats are not recommended for use by the garbage disposal, some fat is going to go through as it can be found in common waste like salad dressing. With hot water, you’ll run the risk of that fat sticking to the blades and creating a clog! Conversely, cold or cool water will allow for that fat to remain solid as it passes through. An additional benefit to using cold water is that you never have to worry about your unit overheating! With that said, the answer is and always should be using cold water. As alluded to above, make sure you run that cool water for at least a handful seconds after the grinding has finished. This will ensure there’s no remnants left over!
What is the best way to freshen up a garbage disposal?
Depending on how much you utilize your garbage disposal, there is always that possibility of some strange smells building up. While ice cubes clean the blades, they don’t naturally generate a fresh scent. Your best friend to take care of this is citrus peels. Grinding these up in your disposal will keep a fresh scent, as well as help prevent bacteria from accumulating. As a side note, make sure that you never consider using harsh drain cleaners to do the job! Thinking long-term, these cleaners will end up doing more harm than good. A more natural approach is much more enticing!
Still Got Questions?
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll feel a little more confident in keeping your garbage disposal operating at full efficiency. Not only will this save you a few bucks in avoiding having to call a Kansas City plumbing company, but it will also keep your kitchen smelling fresh! However, if you didn’t already know these and notice some issues with your garbage disposal, don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Our plumbing company, Stine-Nichols Plumbing, is located in North Kansas City. We do business throughout Kansas City and all of the neighboring cities, including Overland Park, Liberty, Parkville, Gladstone and more!