FAQs on Garbage Disposals

Just over half of Americans live in a house with a garbage disposal. Whether you love yours or have a love-hate relationship with it, it’s not uncommon to have some questions about how to use it the right way. It’s also important to know how to take proper care of your garbage disposal, and when to know if you should consider a garbage disposal replacement.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this popular home appliance.

What Is a Garbage Disposal?

A garbage disposal unit is an under-the-sink machine that grinds up food waste and whisks it – and any bugs it may attract – to a wastewater treatment plant (unless you have a septic tank). This little marvel is more eco-friendly than tossing your scraps in the trash or composting!

How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?

A small grinding plate at the bottom of the disposal spins at great speeds with two lugs that use centrifugal force to push food particles against the internal chamber’s grinding ring. The food waste is eventually broken down so much that it gets washed away.

How Do I Choose The Right Garbage Disposal for My Needs?

Consumer Reports suggests answering these three questions to decide the right disposal with the right power for your needs.

  1. What is your family size?
  2. How often do you cook?
  3. What food do you want to grind?

A family of four or more who cooks daily and plans to grind hard items like rib bones and fruit pits will want a machine with a one-horsepower motor. A household of one or two people who rarely cook and plan to grind soft foods and vegetable scraps can do fine with a machine that has a 1/3 horsepower motor.

Can I Use a Garbage Disposal if I Have a Septic System?

It’s not uncommon for people with garbage disposals to have a septic system attached to their homes. However, you will need to make sure your septic system has a large enough capacity or plan to have it professionally emptied more often to accommodate the extra waste from the disposal. The last thing you want is a backed-up septic tank!

Who Do I Call to Help With a Garbage Disposal Installation?

While it’s possible to DIY your garbage disposal installation, it’s much safer to contact a professional plumber such as Merit Plumbing of Sarasota, Florida. Disposals need to be installed the right way to ensure your safety and to make sure they’re doing their job properly. A professional will always be your best bet when it comes to installation.

Why Is My Disposal Humming or Buzzing?

The noise of a garbage disposal unit can come from the machine itself or something preventing the small grinding plate from moving. Use plenty of caution if you think you have a clog and never place your hand or any long object into the disposal while it is running.

What Items Can I Put in a Garbage Disposal?

What you can put in a garbage disposal depends on your unit’s motor size. A powerful one-horsepower garbage disposal can handle bones and fruit pits, while a small 1/3-horsepower unit can only handle soft foods. If you are not sure of the size unit you have, err on the side of caution and stick to the softer foods. If not, your unit could burn out quickly.

Do I Have to Run Water When Using It?

Running water while you are using your unit helps it to clear the food particles out and removes potentially odor-causing or sticky items. Continue to run the water for at least 15 seconds after you have turned off the machine to finish clearing out the chamber. Placing a lemon or other citrus fruit in the chamber to be processed will help keep it smelling fresh.

Where Is The Reset Button On My Disposal?

The reset button is usually on the bottom exterior of the unit, though you should refer to your owner’s manual for instructions.

If you have any more questions about your garbage disposal, be sure to contact a professional like Merit Plumbing. While it’s a useful appliance, it needs to be used and maintained properly to keep you safe.