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Maintaining Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposal malfunctions are just a fact of life for most households. The most common problems are clogs and jams. Many times, using the proper maintenance techniques will prevent many of these problems from occurring.

One of the most common garbage disposal problems is a clogged or jammed unit. People who feel confident in their plumbing skills might attempt to remedy the situation on their own.

The first step should always be turning the power off at the circuit breaker before attempting any repair. Inspect the inside of the unit with a bright light. In many instances, the clog or cause of the jam may be visible.

Once the cause is identified a set of pliers can be used to reach down and pull out the piece of metal, bone, or other debris, which has jammed the unit.

Another common garbage disposal issue is that the unit will no longer chop up material. In those cases, the garbage disposal blades may need to be sharpened. If the blades are not too dull, putting ice cubes down the drain often can sharpen them. If the blades are overly dull the unit may need to be replaced.

From time to time, the blades may completely break off as well. If that happens, the person might hear a loud rattling sound and see that material is no longer being ground in the disposal. In that case, the blades or the entire unit will need to be replaced.

Leaks can be a common issue with garbage disposals because of the vibrations the units make while be used.

In this situation, the joints connecting the garbage disposal to the sink and the dishwasher may need to be re-tightened. If the unit is still leaking water, the rubber gasket may need to be replaced.

Many garbage disposal problems can be prevented with common sense and regular maintenance. Crushing ice cubes with a cup of rock salt once a month in the unit will help keep the blades sharp and in optimum chopping condition.

You probably already know that fibrous foods like banana skins; broccoli, celery, cornhusks, and potato peels can tangle and stop the blades of your garbage disposal. Other no-nos include bones and eggshells. But are you aware that dumping coffee grounds or starchy food into the unit can clog the pipes?

Cut Lemon’s can be a smelly garbage disposals best friend. Get rid of bad smells by pouring warm (not hot) water into your garbage disposal as it grinds cut-up lemons

Experts also recommend avoiding harsh cleaning products, such as bleach, to keep the rubber gaskets pliable and free from leaks. In addition, running cold water while the unit is turned on and trying to avoid dumping hot water from boiled pastas, grease, or other potentially clogging materials down the drain may help keep a disposal in working order.

When a problem can’t be easily fixed it always pays to call a pro. A master plumber such as JMS Express Plumbing can examine the situation and usually fix or replace a garbage disposal in less than an hour.