By Kent “The Maintenance Gent” Morgan
The garbage disposal. We all take it for granted until it stops working. They are temperamental suckers. I’m going to tell you how to keep them happy, your sleeves clean, and the drain flowing.
Let’s set the ground rules. First, you have to use it regularly. You want to keep the motor moving and lubricated and you don’t want to let the chamber back up to the point where it is likely to overwork the disposal and clog the drain. Second, always run water when using the disposal. When the broccoli is ground into mush, you want to simultaneously rinse it down the drain with running water.
Before I tell you what not to put down there, I want to be clear that we are only giving you a list of a few common, non-obvious items. Items like forks, bottle caps, pens, screws, coins, Hot Wheels, toys, gym shoes and all other non-food related items are obvious ones to avoid. Also, I will harp on this in every blog post, NO LIQUID PLUMBER! This is bad for the pipes, bad for the plumber, and if you scratch that itch after you handled it, bad for you.
So here are some of the non-obvious items you should avoid putting down the hatch:
- Bones- Your disposal blades will not grind bones fine enough to fit through the drain. At the end of the day, you will burn out the motor and have a clogged sink. This goes for all bones: beef, poultry, fish, or your cousin “Vinnie Two Shoes”.
- Stringy Vegetables- Celery, onions, artichokes… I don’t blame you for thinking your disposal can handle this. But most can’t. If a food item can’t break up relatively easily, most residential disposals will just get these fibers wound up around the blade propellers and burn out the motor. This will not add to the fun of Thanksgiving clean-up.
- Pasta- Anything starchy and sticky in large quantities will clog your drain. Say that three times.
- Potato Peels- This is the street corner where the fibers of stringy vegetables meet the sticky starch of pasta. Like both of those, I can understand someone assuming that the disposal can do its magic with this. But in a head-to-head match-up between the garbage disposal and potato peels, my money, unfortunately, is on the tater.
- Hands- It is not being brave or living on the edge. You start out with ten digits and it would be nice to cross the finish line with ten digits as well, no?
If your disposal is not humming or running when you turn it on, there is one thing you can try to get it going. Under your sink, look for a reset button on the bottom of the disposal. Push this button to reset the motor and give it another whirl. If, however, it just hums after you try this, then there is a problem with the motor and you should contact maintenance (via your on-site manager) immediately so we can fix it for you.
Kent Morgan is the Director of Corporate Maintenance for Milestone Property Management, LLC.