Angie's List: Garbage Disposal Use and Care

The garbage disposal is one of the most used appliances in the kitchen, and you probably don't even notice it until it stops working. The consumer review website Angie's List has some tips to help you take care of your garbage disposal properly so that you can avoid pricey repairs.

It seems pretty simple, right? You put food down the sink, and turn the disposal on occasionally to clean it out. Russ Graves is a plumber who says it's simple, but not that simple. "The proper way is to turn the water on, let it run for 10-15 seconds, turn the disposal on, start to feed the unit bits at a time until all the food is gone and let the water run for another 30 seconds to clear it all out and get it all down the drain", Graves says.

Graves also says that nine times out of ten, blockages are caused because people put too much food is the disposal and then turn the water on. It's a simple mistake but it could crash the unit.

Here are some other tips from Angie's List to help you avoid a disposal disaster:

  • Be sure to use cold water when grinding food. Hot water can melt fat which can clog pipes.
  • Don't overload your garbage disposal. You can do this by cutting food into smaller pieces and putting them down the drain one at a time.
  • You should avoid putting certain items like glass, rubber and bones down the disposal.
  • You should also avoid putting stringy food like celery down the drain. Those can wrap around the blades.
  • Keep your disposal clean by running it frequently.
  • Keep the blades sharp by dropping ice cubes down the disposal occasionally.
  • If your disposal isn't working, try pressing the reset button first. Often times this will get the unit running again and a repair might not be necessary.