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How should I maintain my garbage disposal?



While the garbage disposal is certainly a kitchen workhorse, sometimes we work it a little too much. Here are some general use tips for your disposal.

First, the garbage disposal is meant to dispose of scraps of food, NOT an excessive amount of food. So entire dinners or leftover portions of meals are not recommended to go into the disposal. Second,  ice—on occasion and in small amounts—ground-up in the garbage disposal helps clear any excess buildup and sharpens the blades. If you happen to get a foul smell coming from the disposal, one trick that works well is grinding peels or rinds from any type of citrus fruit.

What do you do if you turn on the switch to your garbage disposal and nothing happens? Visually inspect it from above with a flashlight. Push the rubber flange aside, and with your flashlight, look and make sure there are no hard items blocking or interfering with the function of the garbage disposal. If you do find a foreign object that is not food-related, remove it. Putting your hands inside the disposal is not recommended. Ideally, find a wrench or some type of tool that allows you to remove the item. If it cannot be removed in that manner, call a professional for assistance.

If the blockage is food, take action to resolve it. First, make sure the power is off. Then look beneath the sink, underneath the disposal, for the reset button. If that switch does not turn your disposal back on, locate the garbage disposal wrench (which comes with any new Van Metre home). If you've misplaced this tool, an Alan Key of the same size—typically a quarter-inch—works. Once located, look at the bottom of the garbage disposal. In the center, you will find a space where the socket wrench fits. With the socket wrench, turn the blades manually to break the clog loose. Once complete, try the reset button again, then attempt to switch the disposal back on. That should take care of the clog. But if it doesn’t, either call Van Metre Homes if your home is under warranty or a professional if your warranty is expired.

 And finally, one last important tip: avoid pouring grease down your sink. The grease and oil will solidify in the garbage disposal over time. Once that happens, the motor slows down and the disposal could eventually stop running.