Is It Time to Replace My Garbage Disposal?

by | Aug 21, 2018 | Plumbing Fixtures, Plumbing Services

Your kitchen garbage disposal makes for simple and convenient cleanups at mealtime by chopping up food scraps and flushing them safely down the drain.

Treated well, this modern convenience will serve you tirelessly for years. 

But what if it starts to become less dependable, quirky, or even smelly?  Does it just need some maintenance, or has your garbage disposal simply come to the end of its useful life?  To know for sure, let’s first take a look at a few facts regarding your disposal’s normal usage, operation and care.

How your garbage disposal works

Your garbage disposal is an electrical appliance that lives in the cabinet beneath your sink.  A powerful little motor drives a set of blades that chop up, grind and shred your biodegradable food scraps.  These scraps are washed into the blades through the disposal’s “mouth”, which is attached to a drain of your kitchen sink basin.  As the blades chop and grind the scraps into small particles, the cold running water in your sink cools the mechanism as it sucks the scraps down the drain.  When it’s doing its job, these particles are small enough not to clog your drain pipes.

Keeping your disposal clean is important

Not only is a clean garbage disposal more efficient at doing its job, it also maximizes its service life and makes your kitchen a more pleasant place to be when there isn’t a foul odor coming from it.

Here’s a quick and simple 3-step procedure you can follow to easily restore cleanliness and effectiveness to your disposal.

  1. Toss in some ice cubes and salt

Throw a few ice cubes with some rock salt down the drain opening of your garbage disposal.  Run the cold water and start your disposal.  Don’t worry about the loud noise as it grinds the ice.  This process is very effective at scouring and removing grime from the inside surfaces and crevices of your disposal, and it actually sharpens the disposal’s blades for improved performance as it cleans!

If you do this procedure faithfully a couple times a month, you could even skip the next two steps.

  1. Acid cleanse with vinegar and baking soda

Pour about a cup of baking soda down into the disposal, and let it sit for several hours if possible.  Then pour about a cup of vinegar down the disposal.  The vinegar will react with the baking soda to create a nice, foamy cleanse.

  1. Flush it out with soapy water

Start by plugging the drain.  Then fill your sink with a few inches of hot water.  Add some dish soap so it’s a little sudsy.  Then remove the drain cap and let the warm, soapy water drain through and rinse the disposal, giving it a nice, cleansing bath.  Run your cold water tap and turn on the disposal.  Let it run ‘til all the suds are gone.

That’s it!  But is there still a foul smell?  You might be tempted to pour some straight Clorox bleach or something similar down the drain.  However, keep in mind that doing so might harm your plumbing.  So, if you must, make certain you first dilute your bleach with plenty of water.  This bleachy mixture should then kill off any bacteria that might be the culprit causing the unpleasant smell.

You might want to skip the bleach all together and simply toss a lemon into your disposal.  Grinding up the lemon with your garbage disposal will freshen your disposal for sure and will likely make your whole kitchen smell fresh and clean!

What foods aren’t safe to put down the disposal?

Some definite no-nos that should never go down your drain into the disposal are bones, fruit pits and large amounts of egg shells.  Other items that might wreak havoc on your disposal include coffee grounds, grease, starchy foods like pasta and rice, and fibrous foods like celery and corn husks.  Keeping these items away from your garbage disposal will definitely keep you out of trouble.

How long do they last?  Is my garbage disposal telling me it’s time to replace?

A good-quality garbage disposal should last you 8 to 15 years before you need to start thinking about replacing it.  However, that assumes it was properly installed by a trained and licensed plumber, was not abused, and was maintained periodically.

If your disposal is “acting up” as in becoming noisier or constantly jamming or blowing its circuit breaker, it could be telling you its days are numbered.  However, it might only need some attention and TLC from a trained professional to bring it back to top performance.  Give us a call and we’ll be happy to take a look and give you an honest evaluation.

Active Plumbing & Air Conditioning Will Fix or Replace Your Garbage Disposal

Active Plumbing & Air Conditioning has repaired, serviced or replaced thousands of garbage disposals here in the Las Vegas valley.  We service and repair all brands including InSinkErator, Sears Kenmore, Waste King, Viking, Moen, KitchenAid, General Electric, Whirlpool and more.  We’d love to come over and help you solve your disposal problems.

Give us a call to schedule your appointment!

24-hr Las Vegas Plumber Hotline:
(702) 553-1171

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