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Common Misunderstandings About Garbage Disposals

The misunderstandings about garbage disposals start with the name—garbage disposals aren’t meant to handle actual garbage! These common, everyday devices found in most kitchens have many basic misconceptions swirling around them. Poor advice on the internet has made these errors more common: you’ll hear a piece of advice one way (always pour hot water down the drain when running the disposal) and then the other (nope, pour cold water down the disposal).

We want you to have a garbage disposal in Stowe, VT that runs flawlessly for years. To help, we’ve listed common misunderstandings about these devices. When you know the truth, you can take better care of your garbage disposal.

False: Pour hot water down the disposal when it runs

It seems to make sense that when you wash food down the disposal, you should use hot water from the tap. Hot water is better at breaking up grime, grease, etc. The problem is that hot water allows fats, oils, and grease to stay in liquid form and enter the drain, where they’ll later create clogs when they cool. Cold water solidifies the grease and makes it easier to wash the particles out of the drainage system and the disposal.

False: Disposals use rotating blades to chop up food waste

There are no sharp blades in a disposal. Instead, blunt impellers rotate at the center of the hopper. The impellers hurl food waste against an outer grind ring, which is where the food gets ground down so it will flow easily into the drain system. We still don’t recommend you stick your hand down the disposal when it’s running, however—those fast-moving impellers can cause a lot of damage!

False: Pour ice cubes into the disposal to sharpen the blades

We already set up why this won’t work: the disposal has no “blades” to sharpen! Not only does this have no benefit for the disposal, items as hard as ice can cause major damage to the mechanical parts of the disposal. If your disposal is having trouble grinding down food waste, it may need cleaning or professional repairs—not ice cubes!

False: Garbage disposals can handle actual garbage

We wish garbage disposals were named something else, like “food waste disposals.” Non-organic waste should never go down a disposal, only food waste. Anything that normally goes in a trash receptacle, such as paper, plastic, cigarette butts, bottle caps, etc. should remain out of the disposal because it can’t effectively grind it and these items will end up causing difficult drain clogs.

False: Garbage disposals can handle any food waste

Not all food waste is soft enough for the disposal to grind down. A general rule of thumb to determine if organic waste can go down the disposal is whether your teeth can chew it. If they can’t, the waste belongs in the trash. Examples of food waste too hard for a disposal: meat bones, fruit pits, and unpopped popcorn kernels.

If you’ve got a problem with your disposal, you can trust our expert plumbers for repairs or a unit replacement.

Red Rock Mechanical, LLC serves Northwest Vermont and Northeast New York. Look to us to handle any kitchen or other plumbing need you have—we offer emergency service.

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