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Save Yourself the Holiday Headache: Proper Care and Use of Your Kitchen Disposal

garbage disposal proper care

There is a reason plumbers work overtime around the holidays, and it has nothing to do with wanting to skip out on those awkward family conversations. With additional guests in the home and large dinner parties, kitchen plumbing issues are more likely to arise during the holidays.

Prevention and attention is the best policy when it comes to plumbing care, so here are a few simple steps you can take to avoid typical holiday kitchen plumbing disasters. These recommendations will not only help protect your disposal, but will also help keep things out that can collect on the walls of your pipes over time and cause backups or flooding.

Reduce Use of Disposal

By limiting disposal use during the holidays, you can ensure your drains will not be pushed past their limits. Always scrape as much food off of plates and pans into the trash before putting dishes near the sink. This can get a little tricky when little kiddos want to lend a hand, so try to keep a close eye out for any dishes that may sneak into the sink without first being cleared.

scrape food off plates into garbage

Use A Drain Strainer

A basic drain strainer (typically $2-$6 available at most hardware stores) can catch small food debris from going down drains. These drain strainers have a smaller mesh than your typical sink plug and are less prone to allowing food to maneuver around the edges.


use a sink drain strainer

Avoid Sending Common Food and Non-Food Items Down The Drain

Some common culprits behind drain and disposal problems include obvious non-food items which can make their way down the drains such as bones, paper, plastic and metal. Surprisingly, though, some of the major disposal and drain issues happen from lesser-known items like banana peels, celery, raw onions, lettuce, egg shells, coffee grounds, potatoes (peels too), rice, poultry skins, and noodles. These foods don't break down easily and can either expand, cause build-ups in the drains, or get jammed in the disposal blades, causing it to stop functioning properly.

foods to avoid in garbage disposal

Discard Grease and Oil Properly

Oil and grease quickly harden (congeal) and stick to the sides of the drains and the buildup can cause blocked drain nightmares that only a plumber can fix. Don’t be impatient when it comes to properly disposing of oil and grease. First, allow time for the oil or grease to cool and solidify in the pan or transfer it when hot to another heat resistant container and allow it to cool. Once the grease is cooled, you can scrape it into the garbage. Use a paper towel to wipe as much off as possible before washing. For oil, once it is cooled, you can either pour it back into the original container for reuse or you can toss it into the garbage fully contained.

dispose of grease and oil properly

Run Cold Water (Not Hot) When Using Disposal

Even when taking all the proper steps to care for your drains and disposal, some grease, oil and food items still make their way to your sink. By running cold water 15 seconds before and after running your disposal, you can help food harden and solidify so the disposal can break it down. Hot water can melt the food your disposal is trying to grind up, allowing the waste to cling to the sides of the drains further down the line. You can also add a little dish soap to clean the disposal and to help clear any build up that has formed on the sides of the drain.

turn on cold water when using garbage disposal

Turn Disposal On Before Adding Food

Make sure the disposal is running while you are clearing your dishes. If you wait for food to become “stuffed” inside the disposal before turning it on, you are essentially turning your disposal into a high powered blender which needs to churn its way through the pressure of a food jam. Running smaller amounts of food through your disposal can add years to your disposal’s life.

turn on garbage disposal before adding food

By following these steps, you can reduce or even avoid the chances of encountering a major plumbing disaster during the holidays. Remember, if you are aware of any plumbing issues in your home, make sure you address them prior to the holiday season and before your guests arrive. Getting a plumber out to your home during the holiday hours can be an expensive and frustrating ordeal.

If you do experience an unexpected plumbing emergency this season, make sure you are aware of any extra holiday service fees beforehand and always call a licensed plumber. If you don’t have an expert you trust, call Any Hour Services and we’d be happy to help you get back to enjoying the holiday season with your guests.

Posted: November 1st, 2017 @ 12:00am by tammy