Jul 11, 2016

Appliance Repairs: Garbage Disposal Hacks

Water down the drain of kitchen sink.

Ahhh, the luxury of a garbage disposal!  If you’ve had to live without one, you know how annoying it can be to scrape plates, clean the trash can and finger out mushy food remnants from the drain. YUCK!

Garbage disposals are super handy appliances and make those kitchen chores less messy.  But as with any appliance, garbage disposals can break or get a bit smelly at times. Fixd wants to share some garbage disposal hacks from repairing to deodorizing in order to avoid potentially major repair costs.

Stinky Garbage Disposal Hacks

As awesome as a garbage disposal can be, it’s not unusual for them to leave a bit of a stench in the kitchen. Here are some natural ways to clean the “stink” in your garbage disposal beyond just chemical products that you can buy in the store.

1. Water & Dishwashing Soap

Liquid dish washing soap with clipping path. Clipping path is included.

This is the first go-to solution to flush out stuck and smelly foods.

2. Ice & Salt

Sea salt in a blue bowl. Processed in AdobeRGB colorspace.

You can use ice and rock salt as both will help get rid of any foul smelling foods that are stuck in-between the blades or disposal walls.  The ice sharpens the blades and the salt disinfects. If you don’t have rock salt, normal table salt will work too.

3. Citrus Fruits

House cleaning product

Snag a lemon, lime or orange from the kitchen.  Citrus is a simple way to de-stink your smelly garbage disposal. Use just the peels or even the whole fruit.

4. Baking Soda

Jar and spoonful of baking soda for multiple holistic usages.

Baking soda deodorizes the disposal. Pour a little down the drain and flush it with warm water. The bicarbonate of soda is a natural deodorizer that neutralizes and eliminates odors on contact. For a really good clean, pour a half a cup of baking soda and follow it with vinegar.  The chemical reaction will help loosen up any stuck bits of nastiness in there. Just make sure to allow the reaction to take place, and let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with hot water.

Garbage Disposal Trouble-Shooting Hacks

All garbage disposals can have issues.  Here are some of the more common problems with easy troubleshooting hacks which may save you a call to the plumber.

Jamming or Clogging:

This is one of the most common problems issues. All sorts of things can cause a clog in your garbage disposal. You’ll know your disposal is jammed or clogged when the motor hums but the disposal doesn’t grind, is overly noisy, or runs and then stops before you turn it off. Don’t continue to run the disposal when it’s jammed as you could burn out the motor.

Use tongs or pliers to pull the material out. Never use your hand. Be sure to unplug the disposal or turn off the electrical circuit that powers it before making any repairs.

When water stands in the sink, and the disposal isn’t clogged you could have a problem further down the drain line. This isn’t a garbage disposal problem but rather a plumbing problem.

Not Turning On:

There are few reasons why your garbage disposal wouldn’t turn on. It could be the plug has come away from the socket under the sink, so check that first. If the power in your kitchen has gone off, check the circuit breaker.

Many garbage disposers have reset buttons which are there for your safety, and to help stop your disposer from becoming damaged. If your disposal isn’t working, check the electrical breaker and see if it’s on. If it is ON and the unit isn’t working, press the reset button.

You might have an object down your disposer that’s caused the power to trip. So go back to the clogging section to try and fix the problem.

Grinding Poorly:

If your disposal grinds poorly, make sure that you are running enough water while operating the unit and that you are not grinding matter that you shouldn’t. If you can hear the garbage disposal running but it is not grinding, the blades may be broken. At that point, you’ll want to consider replacing the unit.  That’s when you bring in your home warranty company to service the garbage disposal.

Garbage Disposal Leaks: 

If you notice leaks below the disposal, pinpoint the source of the leak, and tighten the offending connection. If necessary, replace the drain gasket or the unit’s mounting screws.  If the leak continues, then you might consider getting a plumber.e

Garbage Disposal No-No’s

To avoid those smells as well as keep your disposal working properly, here are some big no-no’s for disposals.

  • Grease, oil, and fat –It clogs pipes, congeals and catches all sorts of food, making things smell bad! It will also affect your disposal’s grinding ability.

  • Corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins and artichokes. The fibers from these can tangle and jam the garbage disposal motor and block drains.

  • Don’t grind cigarette butts, glass, plastic, metal or even paper.

  • Excessive potato peels.  The starches in potatoes will turn into a thick paste and cause blades to stick.

  • “Gooey” foods.  Egg whites and yolks, shrimp, fish, honey have a hard time washing down.

  • Expandable foods – pasta and rice expand when you add water in a pot, they do the same once inside your pipes or garbage disposal and are the cause of many jams and clogs.

  • Coffee grounds – although they help eliminate odors, but they can accumulate in drains and pipes, causing clogs.

  • Do not pour bleach, drain cleaners, or other chemicals into the unit – they can damage the blades and pipes.

Garbage Disposal Do’s

  • Always use cold water when running the disposal. Cold water solidifies grease and oil so they can be chopped up.

  • Run the disposal for 10-15 seconds after the grinding is complete to completely flush particles.

  • Grind egg shells on occasion.  A scouring action is created by these particles inside the grind chamber that will clean the garbage disposal’s walls.

  • Cut large items into smaller pieces and put them in one at a time.

Unfortunately, lots of us just give up on our disposers when we come across certain problems that could be sorted out in no time at all.  Trying to troubleshoot on your own first, before calling a professional could save you a lot to time and money.