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Your garbage disposal is the appliance beneath your sink where food waste is shredded to help it drain through your sewer. While it was not intended to be used as a garbage can, it is often treated as one. Many objects, such as non-organic waste, can damage it. One of the biggest problems a homeowner faces with garbage disposals is blockage in the disposal that causes backup. Another problem is when the shredding mechanism becomes dull or broken. Your disposal can also be the source of a water leak. Although it has a typical warrantee for a life expectancy of 12 years, your disposal will still require some basic care to keep it working properly.

Here are 9 tips for maintaining your garbage disposal so that it continuously works properly.

  • Don’t put coffee grinds, tea bags, egg shells, crab shells, popcorn kernels and other tiny particles that don’t easily dissolve down the garbage disposal. These wastes don’t separate well and have a tendency to collect as one large mass that can get caught in the shredding mechanism, jamming it, and damaging your disposal.
  • Don’t put bones or other hard objects into the garbage disposal. They can get jammed and cause the shredder blades to break. The appliance has a hardness capacity that the shredding blades can handle. And when something is put down it that is harder, the harder object will scratch and cut up the blades.
  • Avoid pouring oil down the garbage disposal. Oil may be a liquid when you use it to cook with, but it will congeal once it cools. The congealed oil that is left when the oil cools can coat the shredding mechanism, causing it to dull,be less effective, and react with the metal.
  • Be careful of strong vegetable fibers and fruit peels that can get tangled or jam. For example, husks of corn, artichokes, celery, and banana peels could be too thick or stringy for your disposal’s shredder. And don’t put waste that has wrappings of paper, plastic, or foil.
  • Cut items into small pieces before putting them into the garbage disposal, and put pieces in one at a time. By not shoving large pieces into the disposal all at once, you avoid jamming.
  • Run cold water while you operate the garbage disposal and leave the water running for another 30 to 60 seconds to help clear the drain. Besides helping to keep the motor and bearings from overheating, cold water will help oils and fats mixed in the food from re-solidifying.
  • Keep your disposal clean by throwing some ice cubes down it about once per week. Not too many cubes; just a few will work fine to help clean debris from the shredding blades.
  • Add some lemon juice (or small pieces of lemon peel) and vinegar to get rid of any odors.
  • Use your disposal regularly to avoid rust or clogged drains.

For optimal operation, look at any manufacturer’s requirements for maintaining your garbage disposal. Be careful what you put in your garbage disposal. Only use it for disposing of food. The instruction manual usually lists what objects to avoid based on the hardness capacity of the garbage disposal. And there may be specific requirements and cleansers that are recommended for maintaining your particular garbage disposal model.

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