Here’s how to keep your garbage disposal like-new for years to come

We all love our garbage disposals. If you’ve ever lived in a home without one, you realize just how easy they make food preparation or cleaning up after dinner. However, garbage disposals are not immune from problems caused by wear-and-tear. From foul odors and dull blades to significant performance issues, disposals need maintenance and upkeep. In this article, we’ll review the steps homeowners can take to keep their garbage disposal like-new for years to come—as well as when it’s time to throw in the towel and call us at Southern Air for disposal replacement.

A garbage disposal requires regular upkeep to retain blade sharpness and avoid foul odors.

Cleaning and sanitizing your disposal can help it both run and smell better.

Sanitize your garbage disposal and remove odors

As your disposal grinds through night after night of leftover table scraps, it may begin to take on a foul odor. We recommend that you clean your blades frequently. This is actually quite easy! Take some leftover citrus—lemon and limes work well—and put them down the drain with some cold water running from the tap. Then, turn the disposal on and allow the blades to tear through the citrus peel and flesh of the fruit. The acidity of the citrus will sanitize the blades, killing any odors and leaving your disposal and sink smelling fresh.

There are also commercially available cleaning products specifically manufactured for garbage disposals. If you’re not satisfied with the results of the citrus treatment outlined above, you can always try one of these products.

Sharpen the blades

Over time, your disposal’s blades—just like your kitchen knives—will start to dull. Not only is this an inconvenience for you when you’re doing dishes, but it’s also a risk factor for your pipes and your sewer line. The worse the disposal is at quickly disintegrating food waste into smaller pieces, the larger pieces of waste can get into your pipes and sewer line, putting you at risk of a sewer blockage (more on this below).

The good news is that you can sharpen your blades relatively easily. Start by running cold water from the tap. Then, dump a cup full of ice cubes into the disposal, along with a tablespoon or so of sea salt. Turn on the disposal for about a minute until all the ice has been ground down. This should clean and sharpen the blades. Do this once per-month, and you’ll notice the difference in how your disposal works and smells.

Watch what you put down the sink

For many homeowners, the in-sink garbage disposal is a major convenience. You don’t have to think as much about what food waste goes down the sink when cooking or cleaning. You can clean dishes without worrying about bits of remaining food getting trapped deep in your pipes and forming a serious clog.

However, there are consequences to treating your garbage disposal like a trash can. While the disposal can grind food waste down to tiny pieces that move easier through your pipes and sewer line, too much volume at one time still has the potential to form a clog.

Certain things should never be put the kitchen sink:

  • Grease: Hot grease that is a liquid may cool and start to solidify as it moves through the drain and into the sewer line. Accumulated grease deep in the sewer line is a major cause of sewer line blockages here in the United States. Always dispose of grease in a separate container, allow it to cool, and then throw it into the trash.
  • Oils: As with grease, many oils—olive, vegetable, and coconut—can become trapped deep in lines. Coconut oil, in particular, can shift from being solid to becoming a liquid based on temperature.
  • Coffee Grounds: These gritty grounds can get stuck in pipes, forming a semi-solid clog. Avoid dumping used grounds down the drain and instead dispose of them in a trash can.

When should a disposal be replaced?

Overall, most in-sink disposals last about 10 years. In the second decade of operation, you’ll likely start to notice the disposal slowing down, the blades dulling more frequently, or the under-sink unit starting to leak. Or, the system might stop working altogether. These are all signs that it’s time to replace the garbage disposal sooner than later.

Here in Alexandria, you’ll want to call the plumbers at Southern Air for this kitchen plumbing repair service. Our team can quickly remove your old, broken disposal and replace it with a new unit, all without a major disruption to life in your home. Call us today for all your plumbing service needs.