Not that many years ago, it was considered a luxury to have a garbage disposal installed in your kitchen sink. Alright, maybe “luxury” is a bit of an over-sell, but at one time, garbage disposals were considered a premium appliance in a new kitchen build. Today, garbage disposals are as standard in new homes as toilets and water heaters. As a result of their popularity, we tend to take our garbage disposals for granted, asking more of them every time we turn them on.
Why Does My Garbage Disposal Clog?
Aside from your toilets, the garbage disposal has the most thankless job among home appliances. We expect our disposals to devour everything we didn’t want to eat, from chicken bones to sticky pasta and dried out oatmeal. The first line of attack in keeping your garbage disposal from clogging is to scrape your plates before putting them in the sink. It’s impressive that such a simple act can keep your kitchen drain flowing freely for years.
What Should I Keep Out of My Disposal?
There are several things you need to keep from entering your kitchen sink drains, as they only result in clogs and other issues. Your garbage disposal is designed to shred food and other waste by pulverizing it between a series of blunt metal blades. This makes it extremely efficient at getting rid of incidental food particles but try to be diligent about keeping the following items out of your disposal.
- Cooking Grease: As a plumber, I’ll never understand why people think it’s good to put bacon grease into their kitchen sink drains. As soon as any sort of cooking grease cools, it thickens into a tacky, heavy mess. Anything that goes through your garbage disposal and into your drain will invariably get stuck in this goo. If you wind up with a grease clog in your garbage disposal, try boiling a kettle full of water and pouring that into the drain while running the hot water.
- Pasta, Oatmeal, and Rice: Have you ever had to clean dried pasta or rice from your dishes? While you’re scraping away at the dry, sticky residue with a fingernail or fork, think about what pasta or rice would do to the garbage disposal. Starchy rice and pasta get onto the blades and deep into your drain lines, attracting other food and dirt particles, eventually creating a clog. Again, a nice flush with some boiling water will go a long way to restoring your kitchen drain flow.
- Coffee Grounds: On their own, coffee grounds in the garbage disposal aren’t a horrible thing. The problem shows itself when these tiny particles get caught in any cooking grease residue already in the drain. Once caught inside the sticky residue, the coffee grinds behave like sand, wearing down the blades and other components.
- Fruit or Vegetable Peels: We peel our fruits and vegetables to get rid of the heavy, fibrous, and hard-to-digest protective skin. Potato skins, carrot, and cucumber peels can get caught beneath the blades, remaining in your drain as they begin to decompose, causing odors. Stringy vegetable peels like celery can get wrapped around the disposal blades, sometimes causing the motor to fail and burn out.
- Chemical Drain Cleaners: Of all the things you could put in your drain, chemical-based drain cleaners can cause the most damage. While they seem convenient enough, breaking up the most difficult of clogs just by pouring it in the drain, damage to your drain lines, and potential for injury makes them a bad idea. These harsh chemical clog-busters use hydrochloric and sulfuric acid compounds to burn their way through the blockage. As useful as they are at that task, while it is eating away at the blockage, it does the same to your pipes.
What Can I Do to Prevent Garbage Disposal Clogs?
By keeping the items listed above out of your kitchen sink drains, try regular use of a biologic-based drain cleaner as a proactive approach. These enzyme-based products use live bacteria to eat away at any residual waste particles in their path, allowing your drains to flow freely. Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning recommends BioOne ™ as a good biologic drain cleaner and is available from our technicians.
If you’re experiencing issues with your garbage disposal, or kitchen sink drain issues in general, give Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call. We’ve been installing Houston’s garbage disposals and clearing their kitchen drains since 1979. Ask us about our free estimates and second opinions.