Garbage disposer, garbage disposal, or garbage grinder. What is it? Technically they’re called garbage disposers, although I have yet to hear a person here in the great state of MN (that’s not a plumber) call them that. So, since that’s the norm around here that’s what I’m going to stick with.
Garbage disposals are a device that you attach directly to your kitchen sink that enables you to wash food waste down your drain without fear of clogging your drain pipes. There are different brands out there for you to purchase but the brand that we at LeVahn Brothers plumbing recommend is the Insinkerator brand (shown above and available for purchase at LeVahn Brothers).
A garbage disposal is meant to grind up food waste. However, depending on which model you have, a garbage disposal is not meant as an alternative for a trash can. If you have a lower end model there are certain items that you should avoid putting down your drain. The foods to avoid are: chicken bones, coffee grounds, fruit rinds, potato peals, celery, corn husks or other fibrous vegetables. These are all foods that your basic garbage grinder will have trouble with. Some other tips of garbage disposal operation are to run cool water instead of hot (hot water can cause the fats in food to melt and gum up the grinder and your pipes). Run water before and after you run your disposal. Finally DO NOT pour drain cleaners or other chemicals into your garbage disposal. In fact if you have a double sink we don’t recommend you put drain cleaner down the other side either. Drain cleaning chemicals are generally acid based and can cause major damage to the metal inner workings of your grinder. If you have a drain line back-up take off the p-trap (image below left) and use a drain snake (below right) to clean out the problem.
If you have an issue with a garbage disposal you don’t necessarily need to replace it. First, you need to diagnose your problem. Sometimes a garbage disposals will turn on but won’t grind. Usually this means that something is jammed in the grinder. What you need to do first is turn off the garbage disposal. Then look under your sink at the bottom of the garbage disposal unit. At the very bottom of the disposal is a spot for an allen wrench. Most garbage disposals come with what’s called a “jam buster wrench”. This comes in the box when you purchase the disposal so more than likely you’ll never find it. If this is the case and the wrench is missing you can purchase another at our store or you can use an allen wrench. Turn the wrench back and forth to free up the jam. Finally, make sure that you remove the object that was jamming the grinder.
The next possibility is that the grinder doesn’t turn on when you flip the switch. This will often happen in conjunction with the disposal getting jammed. When this happens it may be that the circuit breaker, which is built-in to the disposal, has been tripped. In this case you need to make sure there is nothing jammed in the unit. After you’ve assessed that there is nothing jamming it you then need to see if the circuit breaker is popped out. This is generally found on the bottom of the unit. It is a small red square-shaped button. You need to press the button and see if it will pop back down.
If you have a higher end model, such as something in the Insinkerator Evolution line of disposals, you won’t have as much of an issue with jamming or clogged pipes. This has to do with the fact that they have created a much more effective and quieter garbage disposal. For more info on insinkerator visit their site at http://www.insinkerator.com/.
If you are a person who is annually calling the plumber to clean out your kitchen drain line because you tried to stick your family’s left over Thanksgiving dinner down the sink this line of garbage disposals is for you.