Of all the plumbing fixtures and pipes in your home, have you ever stopped to think about what you use the most? Well, it’s actually the water heater, if we’re going to be honest. But a very close second is your kitchen sink.
And most kitchen sinks nowadays are equipped with another appliance that many of us can’t imagine going without—the garbage disposal. Could you imagine cooking and cleaning up afterwards without this helpful gadget? Probably not, but, this dependence on your garbage disposal can get you into trouble—leading you to put things down it that don’t belong and therefore jam up the system. Your kitchen sink drain isn’t immune to problems either, even with the assistance of a garbage disposal. Read on to learn more!
Don’t Throw Anything Down That Is Not Food!
Our professional plumbers have come to realize that not all homeowners understand that a garbage disposal should actually never be used for actual “garbage.” It helps, in this case, to know exactly how a disposal system works. Homeowners often assume that sharp blades rotate around to chop up food before sending it down the drain, but this isn’t the case.
Those “blades” many refer too aren’t actually sharp at all. The garbage disposal is comprised of a motor that powers an impeller, a grind ring, and then the blades. The grind ring allows for a powerful centrifugal force to break apart larger food items.
So perhaps you understand now why this won’t work on plastic, paper, and other wrappers and byproducts of food. These items can slip through the disposal system altogether, move into your kitchen sink drain, and then pose a risk to your pipes as blockages build up.
Don’t Throw Down Anything You Can’t Chew
This means hard food items such as meat bones or fruit pits. Your garbage disposal grinds down food before sending them down the drains, but cannot do so with these types of items. Therefore they may make their way down your kitchen sink drain still intact, therefore creating stubborn clogs.
Take Note of Food Texture
Consider how the texture of the food might interact with your garbage disposal—can it create problems for the mechanism? For instance, stringy, fibrous foods are one very common issue for garbage disposal systems. We’re talking things like asparagus or celery.
These could possibly wrap around the impeller blades or even around the motor, and cause the disposal system to jam up. Onion skins and corn husks also fall under this category.
Some Foods Can Bypass the Disposal, but Not the Drain
As we mentioned, things like fruit pits and meat bones shouldn’t be put down your disposal because the disposal can’t break them up. There are a few more food items we want to talk about though that aren’t necessarily bad for the disposal, but can mean a lot of trouble for your kitchen sink drain. These include:
- Pasta, Rice, and Coffee Grounds: These items are expandable with water, meaning they can build up into a clog and cause a backup in your drain.
- Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG): This is a very common enemy to plumbing systems—so much so that restaurants in your community are required to have what’s called grease traps so that the FOG doesn’t make its way into the municipal sewer drain, where it can cause disgusting and hazardous clogs and backups. Those same backups that can impact your kitchen sink drain! Rather than putting FOG down the drain, we encourage you to drain it into a disposable container after cooking and then throw it away once its cooled down enough to do so.