Tips to Maintain the Garbage Disposal

Few homeowners look forward to clogged pipes. Not only can they cause water to overflow and damage cabinets, flooring and ceilings, but also the need to call in a plumber can be expensive.

Garbage disposals can be a big culprit in clogging pipes. While garbage disposals have come a long way, they are not invincible. Repeatedly cramming large amounts of food waste down the drain can eventually lead to clogged pipes -- especially if you don't perform routine maintenance on the unit.

Food garbage needs to be added to the disposal in small batches, and cold running water should always be used when the disposal is on. Make sure you leave the cold water running for 30 or more seconds after the waste has been ground to be sure that debris has been carried down the pipes.

Always follow the instructions provided with the unit as to what can be placed in the disposal. Fibrous foods, such as corn husks or celery, may clog the unit. Do not put raw fats from meat because a residue can build up inside of the unit.

Handy homeowners may be able to service the disposal themselves if a clog is present. Always trip the fuse if the disposal is hard-wired to the electrical system or unplug the unit before dismantling. If you feel uncomfortable doing so, contact a plumber.

Promptly grinding food under cold water can help keep the disposal in good working order and help prevent odor problems. Rinsing baking soda or a vinegar-water solution down the drain periodically can also clean the unit and combat odors.

Remember to keep utensils and other large objects away from the drain while the disposal is in use, particularly continuous feed models. Otherwise you can risk damage from errant items falling into the impeller blades.

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