Garbage disposal is an electrically driven appliance that sits between the sink's drain and the drain trap under a kitchen sink. When food and other debris enter the garbage disposal, it passes through a shredder (some people refer to the shredder's teeth as blades) that grinds the food into small enough pieces to pass down the drain and through the house's plumbing system.
Garbage disposal typically last 10 to 12 years, depending on how well they're maintained and, more significantly, what they're used for. You will not only get less lifetime usage out of your garbage disposal if you frequently put objects down it that you shouldn't, but you may also cause plumbing problems.
It's easy to see why some objects are better suited for the garbage disposal while others aren't now that you know how a garbage disposal works.
ITEMS YOU CAN THROW IN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL
- Citrus rinds: You might be surprised to find that putting the rinds of oranges and other citrus fruits into your garbage disposal is beneficial. They not only clean your disposal naturally, but they also leave it smelling wonderful and fresh.
- Coffee grounds: There are conflicting opinions on this one, but we don't mind if you flush a tiny bit of coffee grounds down the drain. However, don't use too much because it might build up in the pipes and cause a blockage or backup. This is due to the oil that can be found in the coffee grinds.
- Cooked meat scraps: When it's time to clean up the dinner plates, toss any leftover meat scraps into the garbage disposal. However, there will be no enormous sums or pieces this time.
- Almost all fruits and vegetables can be thrown in the garbage disposal, and most veggies are as well. There are a few exceptions, which we'll go through later.
- Small bones: Bones are difficult to break down in a garbage disposal, therefore we recommend that you throw them away rather than putting them down there. However, if you accidentally drop a little bone down the garbage disposal, it's usually not a big deal and should grind up without causing any issues.
ITEMS YOU SHOULD NOT THROW INTO THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL
- Artichokes: Artichoke leaves are extremely tough and can easily become stuck in the shredder's teeth.
- Asparagus is one of the fibrous things that might cause garbage disposal blockage and reduce its longevity.
- Banana peels: While a banana can easily travel through a garbage disposal, the peel is extremely fibrous and can wrap around the grinding teeth, causing the disposal to jam.
- Corn husks: Another fibrous substance that can cause jamming issues, as well as putting a strain on your garbage disposal.
- Egg shells: This is another one of those topics about which people have differing opinions. While some believe it helps to sharpen the grinder's teeth, others believe it does more harm than good. To be on the safe side, we recommend just tossing them or adding them to your compost pile.
- Fruit pits: Consider fruit pits to be little rocks. It's best to toss them in the trash or, better yet, compost them.
- Grease: Even if you don't have a garbage disposal, you should never pour grease or anything else that is really fatty down your drain. All grease does is congeal, and once it does, it turns into a giant sticky mess that clogs your pipes over time. If you dump it down the garbage disposal, it will exacerbate the problem because the grease will cover the grinding chamber and the shredder's teeth.
- Large bones: You'll quickly wear down your waste disposal if you do this. It's not a good idea.
- Nuts: Consider the process of making peanut butter. It's similar, except the peanut butter you make will adhere to your garbage disposal's shredder, resulting in a huge mess.
- Pasta and rice: You'd think that because pasta and rice are so soft, there's nothing wrong with them. The problem is that pasta and rice grow even when shredded into tiny bits. They also turn into a sticky material that clogs drains.
- Potato peels: They may pass through your garbage disposal without clogging, but they are extremely starchy and bad for the drain. Toss them or include them into your compost pile.
- Shrimp shells: Not only are shrimp shells difficult to dispose of, but they can also leave an unpleasant odor behind.
GARBAGE DISPOSAL LEAKING
A leaking garbage disposal may go unnoticed until you see a wet cabinet, a foul-smelling puddle, or hear the device drip-drip-drip. The remedy might be aggravating as well, because the leak could be caused by a variety of system components.
What to Do If Your Garbage Disposal Is Leaking
- Find the leaks
Before examining for leaks, disconnect the garbage disposal from the wall socket and switch off the electricity at the breaker box to avoid electrical shock. Then, using a clean cloth, wipe the unit dry after inserting a watertight sink stopper into the drain. Mix a few drops of food coloring in a few glasses of water in any handy container, and pour the dyed water onto the sink stopper to assist you pinpoint the leak.
- Investigate the source
Examine the unit with a flashlight for escaping colored water, which might be coming from one of three places: the top, where the disposal connects to the sink drain, the side, where the dishwashing hose or main drain pipe connects to the disposal, or the bottom.
Examine each of these areas while gliding a light-colored rag over the unit; the dyed water will show up on the rag and disclose the leak's location. Remove the sink stopper and pour a few more cups of coloured water down the sink drain if a leak isn't immediately obvious, then check for leaks again. When the sink is plugged, leaks around the top of the unit are more likely to appear, whereas side and bottom leaks are more evident when the sink is disconnected.
HOW TO REPAIR GARBAGE DISPOSAL LEAKING
If the top of the garbage disposal is leaking, re-seal and tighten the flange
The metal sink flange, which sits directly within the sink drain, is usually sealed around the top with plumber's putty (a clay-like sealant) and then bolted in place from beneath the sink. The flange can no longer form a watertight barrier between the sink drain and the disposal if the plumber's putty deteriorates or the bolts loosen, which could lead to a leak at the top of the unit.
To reseal the leaky flange, remove the garbage disposal first. Begin by loosening the screws that secure the main drain pipe to the disposal, then release the screws in the metal clamp that secures the dishwasher hose to the disposal, and remove the drain pipe and dishwashing hose. Pull down the disposal and carefully lay it on a clean, dry surface after loosening the screws in the mounting ring that links it to the metal mounting assembly beneath the sink. With a wrench, loosen the mounting assembly's bolts, then remove the mounting assembly down and place it near the disposal.
Remove the sink flange from the sink's top. Scrape out the old plumber's putty around the top of the flange using a plastic putty knife, then clean away any putty residue with a damp rag. Take a palmful of plumber's putty (available at hardware stores, home centers, and online) and roll it into an eighth- to quarter-inch-wide "rope" with a length nearly equal to the flange's circle. Wrap the putty rope around the top of the flange like a collar, then snugly place the flange into the sink drain opening.
Reinstall the mounting assembly and mounting ring (carefully tightening the mounting nuts on the mounting assembly), then reconnect the garbage disposal, drain pipe, and dishwasher hose in the reverse order that they were disconnected.
If you see that it’s the side of the garbage disposal leaking, tighten drain line connections and replace worn gaskets
Garbage disposal has two drain lines: a narrower dishwashing hose that links the dishwasher drain pipe to the dishwasher inlet on your disposal, and a larger main drain pipe that connects your disposal to the sewer through a wall outlet.
The problem could be a loose metal clamp between the dishwasher hose and the disposal's dishwashing input if you see a leak on the disposal's side. In that scenario, use a screwdriver to tighten the screws in the metal clamp.
If the leak is coming from the side where the disposal meets the waste drain pipe, unscrew the screws holding the drain pipe to the disposal and inspect the rubber gasket within the pipe for wear. Re-tighten the drain pipe screws and replace the gasket.
If the bottom of the unit is leaking, replace the disposal
Leaks from the bottom of the garbage disposal (typically from the reset button) suggest that at least one of the seals protecting the motor on the inside shell of the unit has deteriorated, or that the shell has cracked. Water from the sink can seep through the disposal's shell and leak out of the unit's base because of these flaws. Because one faulty internal seal is commonly accompanied by others in an ancient garbage disposal, it's advisable to replace it.
Check your work by running water through the drain
Test for any missed issue places after repairing or replacing the leaking garbage disposal. Wipe the device dry with a clean cloth, then unplug the sink drain (if it's plugged) and pour a few cups of coloured water down it again. Examine the entire device with a flashlight. If there isn't a leak, turn on the disposal's electricity at the breaker box and plug it into a wall socket.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO INSTALL A GARBAGE DISPOSAL
Hiring a professional plumber to replace the unit for $400 on average, including labor and parts, or you can install a garbage disposal yourself for $90 to $200 in labor charges. A new garbage disposal should last anywhere from eight to fifteen years.