We've all heard or maybe even experienced a horror story involving improper usage of a garbage disposal. A garbage disposal can be one of the most useful things in your home, but like anything you use, it nedds to be maintained and used properly. Garbage disposals can dispose of many things you may not even know of, such as chicken and fish bones, egg shells and fruit pits. Another reason garbage disposals are great is because they're environmentally friendly in the sense that they grind these foods up which in turn makes them quicker to break down and return back to the earth as natural nutrients rather than sitting in garbage bag in a landfill.
For all the things you can put down your garbage disposal there are plenty of things that can damage it, break the blades or dull them. You should never use the garbage disposal to dispose of things such as glass, plastic,metal and believe it or not even paper! You should never grind fibrous materials such as corn husks, onion skins and artichokes. The issue with grinding these items is that they can get tangled in the blades of the disposer causing it to eventually clog or burn out the motor. Another thing that you may never think of is the temperature of the water you're running while using the disposal. Hot water can cause grease to liquefy which in turn will accumulate and cause the disposal to clog. There is another way you could end up clogging your disposal, grinding up expandable foods. Foods like rice and pasta expand when you put them in a boiling pot of water, so why would a pipe or disposer that has water running through it be any different? Even if the rice or pasta were to make it through the disposer without any issues they could very well end up getting stuck in the pipe further down the line, and expanding further each time you run the water. the larger the oject that is stuck in the line other waste will eventually start to build up on it, causing the line to clog.
Just like a car, you should always perform annual maintenance. One of the best and simplistic things you can do for a garbage disposal is to use it to grind up ice. since it's a harder material it will sharpen the blades as well as clean it and in the end it's just water that will wash away. Now if you if you ever have a funky smell coming from your disposal you can simply freeze the ice cubes with vinegar in them. The vinegar will kill most of, if not all of the odor causing bacteria while sharpening the blades at the same time. For stubborn odors you can also pour some baking soda into the disposal. After letting it sit for several hours you can run the water once more and start to use your disposal. If you are have persistent problems with your garbage disposal contact a local, licensed plumber for further advice and service.