Proper care of your garbage disposal

A garbage disposal is very useful for cleaning our kitchens; however, if not used properly, it can have all sorts of problems.  A jammed unit is very exasperating in that you’re dealing with electricity and something that can injure you when trying to clear debris. Never try and clean or repair a sink garbage disposal without proper training and qualifications to do the job safely.

Understanding how to use your disposal can save you time and headaches, and avoid expensive repairs. The first step to using any mechanical device is to have a basic knowledge of how it operates. The disposal uses an electric motor to turn a plate the food lands on, as that plate spins, it forces the food outward against a grind ring. Centrifugal force keeps the food against the grind ring until it is broken into small enough pieces to fall through holes in the plate. In a sense, the food is being beaten into small fragments.

Why is this useful to know? Understanding the design helps you determine what will easily grind up and what will jam the unit. An apple core would readily break apart if we threw it against a rough surface over and over, but something with long fibers, such as a celery stick, would not come apart. The long fibers would be left to jam up the plate. So one way to determine if an item will dispose well is to think of the way the machine works. If the item I want to dispose of would break to pieces as it was thrown against a rough surface, then it should work in your sink garbage disposal.

Another issue to consider is if the items will flush off the plate and grind ring sufficiently. High starch foods such as potatoes or rice can swell and stick in the serrated edges. This will lead to smells and even plugged drains. Ice cubes can be run through with softer items to help clean edges and crevices.

Odors can often be taken care of with acidic treatments such as running lemons and limes through the unit. The rhines can be slow to dissolve, (again, think of how long it would take to throw a lemon against a rough wall before it would come apart). So it is advisable to cut them into very small sections or cut the rhine off completely. There are acidic type products available to run down your drain but be careful to read the labels to protect your eyes and avoid skin contact.

A few other pointers, make sure the water is running before your disposal is turned on, and have the disposal already engaged before sending any unwanted food items into it. Always be sure and read the precautions included in your disposals manual. If used properly, it will last for years working trouble free.

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