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Garbage Disposal Tips

Keep your garbage disposal running smoothly with these handy hints

We all want our appliances to last forever, which is probably a bit optimistic, especially if we don't take care of them. Garbage disposals are no different - eventually they will wear out. It is, however, easy to prolong the disposer's life with a few precautions and simple preventive maintenance.

First, the size of the disposal is important when making a purchase. No less than ½-horsepower. Fewer than a handful of companies make all disposers. Shop around for the best price, not necessarily the cheapest.

If you're on a septic system, some recommend against a disposal. Do some research. In our opinion, a disposal will help break up the smaller food debris that washes down the drain - an improvement over sending unwanted food directly into the system.

You should always use plenty of hot water in the sink when running the disposal. The exception to that is when you clean the blades on a monthly basis. Put a few ice cubes in the drain and run the disposer to grind them up. This loosens food debris and cleans out the disposing unit. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning. Baking soda or ammonia can help eliminate odors. Remember to never mix two household cleaners together; the fumes can be toxic.

Prevent disposal problems with a few basic hints:

Never put coffee grounds down the drain.

Do not put fibrous foods down the drain. That includes potato skins, celery, and cabbage. These items produce stringy residue that can bind up the blades and get stuck in drainpipes.

Some foods, such as carrots, can still go down the drain as long as they are cut into tiny pieces. To err on the safer side, however, just toss them in the trash.

Never pour grease down the drain. Animal fats are tough to dissolve and you'll be adding enough from regular foods for the unit to handle. Save your coffee cans or other closed containers for grease and be diligent about wiping up as much as possible out of skillets or other pans. Even the leftover grease from cooking ground beef will eventually cause problems.

Plenty of hot water is still the recommendation when running the disposal. Today's faucets, with their reduced water flow, mean extra vigilance in using plenty of water each time you flip the disposer switch. Let the flowing water heat up first, then turn the unit on.

These are just a few basics that will help prolong the life of your disposal. Use common sense - most of the scrapings from your plate will go down the drain without any problems. Everything else should go into the trash.




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