Four Things To Know Before You Use Your New Garbage Disposal

If you are tired of kitchen cleanup taking so long, then installing a garbage disposal is a great choice. You can scrape plates directly into the sink and get rid of your scraps easily, and without food waste in the trash can, it won't get to smelly. But while installing a garbage disposal can be a great move for many people, there are a few things to know and guidelines to review before you use this appliance. Here's a look.

If you have a septic tank, you'll need to keep a close eye on garbage disposal use.

Some experts may suggest you avoid getting a garbage disposal all together if you have a septic tank. However, the two appliances can be compatible if you are careful about how you use the disposal. Keep in mind that all of the waste you send down the disposal will sit in your septic tank and break down slowly. Try to use the disposal only for small cleanup jobs and not to get rid of large amounts of food like a pile of potato peelings or a while salad. 

Also note that when you have a garbage disposal with a septic tank, you'll need to have your tank pumped out more often. Once a year works well for most homeowners. If your drains start to slow down or you get a lot of water in your yard, you might need to get the tank pumped sooner.

There are foods that cannot go down the disposal.

To reiterate, your garbage disposal is not a catch-all. There are certain foods you should not put down the disposal. Anything fibrous, from celery to asparagus, cannot go down the disposal because the strings in the food can get wound around the grinding mechanism and cause it to seize up. Other foods that may break your disposal or cause issues include:

  • Anything greasy. (The grease can solidify, causing the grinder to slip and also leading to clogged pipes.)
  • Expandable foods. (Foods like pasta and rice can sit in the drains, absorb water, and then cause a blockage.)
  • Bones. (Meat bones are very hard on the disposal blades. Even if they grind, they can cause the disposal to wear out prematurely.)

It's important to use your disposal regularly.

Some people go to the extreme of hardly ever using their garbage disposal, figuring that using it only when absolutely needed will help "save it" and make it last longer. But unfortunately, this strategy is likely to backfire. If you do not use your disposal often enough, it may develop rust or corrosion, which will shorten its lifespan. Make sure you use your disposal at least every couple of days, even if you only send a couple pieces of food scraps down it.

When you do use your disposal, make sure you run cold water the entire time. This will help prevent the sink and grinding mechanism from clogging since it will keep foods a bit more solid and less sticky.

If the disposal jams, you can hit the reset button. 

Many homeowners have their garbage disposal jam and immediately call the plumber. However, many times, you should be able to deal with the issue yourself. If you look under the sink at the actual garbage disposal, there should be a reset button. Push it, and your disposal will probably start working again. If it does not, then perhaps you do need to call the plumber.

Owning and using a garbage disposal is not that complicated as long as you keep the points above in mind. If you run into any issues, just give the plumber who installed the system a call -- or consult your owner's manual.