Garbage disposals take a lot of abuse. We toss all of our food scraps down there and expect them to chew it all up, and we usually don’t think about maintenance until something goes wrong. A little care and maintenance will go a long way toward helping your garbage disposal work properly for years to come. Use this garbage disposal care guide to help you keep things running smoothly.
Dealing with Garbage Disposal Odors
When it comes to garbage disposal odors, you’re better off to do whatever you can to prevent them than trying to get rid of them after the fact. You can minimize the risk of odors by flushing the disposal with hot water every time you use it. Most of the time, the garbage disposal starts to stink because there is food sitting in it and decomposing. Flushing the disposal with hot water every time you turn it on will get rid of any food that was hanging out in there. Just let the hot water run for 30 – 40 seconds. Make sure that you remember to turn the garbage disposal on every time you put food in it. Sometimes we toss the food scraps in and forget to actually flip the switch to run the disposal. Letting the food sit in there will definitely not help with odors.
If you already have a stinky garbage disposal, then it’s time for a cleaning. Before you start, turn off the garbage disposal and put the drain stopper in the sink. Fill the sink with dish soap and hot water. Then pull the plug, and run the garbage disposal while the soapy water runs through it. As the soapy water drains, it will clean the parts of the garbage disposal. Once the sink is empty, you can shut off the garbage disposal. Food and gunk tend to accumulate on the rubber flaps around the edge of the garbage disposal, so give those rubber flaps a good scrub with a brush and hot, soapy water. It’s a good idea to do this once a week or so to help prevent odors.
You can also deodorize your garbage disposal with baking soda and vinegar. Dump half a cup of baking soda into the drain, and then half a cup of vinegar. The mixture will bubble up. Wait about an hour, and then flush the drain with cold water.
Ice cubes and salt give your stinky garbage disposal a thorough cleaning. Their abrasive nature will get rid of any residue that might be clinging to the insides of the garbage disposal. Toss some ice and salt into the disposal and turn it on. After they’re all ground up, you can add a fresh scent by putting some lemon peels into the garbage disposal and turning it on. When you’re all done, rinse the drain thoroughly with water.
Caring for Your Garbage Disposal
Most garbage disposal problems are caused by people putting things into the disposal that don’t belong in there. Follow these rules for garbage disposal use:
- 1. Don’t put any food that is fibrous or stringy into the garbage disposal. This includes celery, banana peels, corn husks, pumpkin guts, etc. In addition, you should never put egg shells, bones, or the pits from fruits into the garbage disposal.
- 2. Don’t put anything that isn’t food into the garbage disposal. Seems obvious, but lots of people damage their disposals by putting napkins or cigarette butts into them.
- 3. Don’t put too much of anything into the garbage disposal at one time. Just put a little bit of food into it and run it, then repeat if necessary. Too much at once will clog the disposal.
- 4. Don’t put coffee grounds into the garbage disposal. They seem tiny, but those little bits can accumulate and cause problems.
- 5. Every time you use the garbage disposal, flush it with cold water for 15 seconds afterward.
- 6. Don’t pour cooking fat or grease into the garbage disposal. Either let it solidify and put it into the trash can or soak it up with paper towels before tossing it into the trash.
How to Reset Your Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals have a safety feature that makes them turn off if the motor gets too hot. If your disposal isn’t doing anything, it could be because this safety feature has kicked on. If this happens to you, you can reset the disposal so that it will turn back on. Here’s how:
- 1. Shut off the garbage disposal.
- 2. Keep your hands OUT of the garbage disposal.
- 3. Check the outlet to be sure that the garbage disposal is plugged in and connected to electricity.
- 4. Look for the reset switch on the unit. In most cases, the reset button is on the bottom or the front of the disposal.
- 5. Press the reset switch.
- 6. Turn the garbage disposal back on again.
Troubleshooting a Humming Garbage Disposal
There are two things that can cause a garbage disposal to make a humming noise: a stuck flywheel or a seized motor bearing. A stuck flywheel is the more common source of this problem. Here’s how to fix a humming garbage disposal.
- 1. First, go to the circuit breaker box and turn off the power to the garbage disposal.
- 2. Never put your hand down the garbage disposal, even if you have turned off the power to the unit.
- 3. Garbage disposals typically come with an Allen key or offset wrench. The key may be taped to the unit. If you can’t find it, you can get a replacement Allen key at the hardware store. Once you have that key, put it into the keyhole in the bottom of the unit.
- 4. Rotate the Allen key clockwise. This will release the stuck flywheel. You should be able to feel the flywheel turning freely.
- 5. In lieu of resetting the disposal with an Allen key, you can reset the disposal manually using a broomstick or wooden spoon. Insert the broomstick or wooden spoon into the drain, and use it to turn the blades. As you do so, you should be able to feel the flywheel release. If you aren’t finding the jam, you can use a flashlight to help you look down the disposal. Remember, though, to never put your fingers into the drain.
Seized Motor Bearing
If resetting the unit doesn’t do the trick, then you may have a seized motor bearing. If that is the case, then the garbage disposal will need to be replaced.
In order to make sure that your garbage disposal works properly for a long time, you just need to take care of it. Don’t put things like vegetable peels, fruit pits, or bones into the disposal. Clean it regularly to avoid odors. If it gets jammed, reset it using the button on the unit.
If you have a problem with your garbage disposal that you can’t solve, call Scott English Plumbing. We can fix your broken garbage disposal or replace it with a new one. We are available 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so give us a call anytime. Whenever you have a plumbing problem, call Scott English.