Avoid Black Friday plumbing nightmares with these simple garbage disposal tips


Plumbers love Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving is their busiest day of the year thanks to garbage disposals that get clogged or broken after the holiday feast. It’s a problem you can avoid by taking a few simple precautions.

Garbage disposal 101

Most problems start at the beginning: improper use of a disposal in the first place. To use your disposal correctly, first run cold water for 15 seconds. Then, slowly feed in small amounts of food; Cut up larger pieces; feed them one at a time to avoid jamming. Putting in anything other than biodegradable food can damage the motor and blades. Remember: no glass, plastics, metal or paper. Under normal use, when grinding stops and everything is flushed, run water for thirty seconds to clear the disposal before turning it off.

Keep your garbage disposal clean

Ice cubes are a handy way to keep your disposal clean. Run water down your sink, turn on the disposal and feed it ice cubes. They’ll break up grease and debris, and clear the blades too. For even better results, make vinegar ice cubes; fill a tray halfway with vinegar and top it off with water. The combination of vinegar and ice kills bacteria as the ice clears the garbage disposal.

Watch what your garbage disposal eats

There are some foods that should never go in a disposal: Fibrous vegetables like corn husks, celery stalks and onion skins can cause jamming or clogs. Potato peels become a “thick paste,” causing blades to stick. Eggshells get caught in the blades and stick in the trap. Grease should never go down your disposal; it solidifies, causing odors and clogs.

Diagnosing a garbage disposal problem

A humming disposal means it’s jammed. Unplug it, or turn off the breaker. Look in with a flashlight to find the jam. Using pliers—never fingers—pull it out. Can’t see a jam? Using a wooden spoon, manually turn the blades. Or, turn the shaft and flywheel with an allen wrench. Once it turns freely, press reset and restore power. If that doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to get professional help from Abacus Plumbing.

Of course, the best prevention is keeping your disposal clean. Run hot, soapy water through it daily. Feed half-vinegar/half-water ice cubes and a few sliced lemons reduce odors.

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