Waste disposers, also called garbage disposers or garbage disposals, don’t need much ongoing maintenance. Once properly installed, very little regular maintenance is generally required. But you have of course to pay attention to what you throw into your waste disposer. Garbage disposals have an expected lifetime of more than ten years.
Obviously, don’t throw any hard items into the waste disposer. Not only will the disposer jam but the blades in the grinding chamber may get damage. Some people throw down bottle caps and are then surprised that the garbage disposal is jammed.
Jams are not funny to fix but it is fairly straight-forward. Always remember the golden rule, no fingers in the garbage disposal! First you should test if your waste disposer is jammed or broken. This is easy to do. Switch off the garbage disposal, wait a few seconds and switch on the disposer again. If you hear a humming sound, the waste disposer is jammed. If you can’t hear anything, your disposer may be broken.
It is generally best to try to see if you can get the flywheel moving again. Most disposers have a hole in the bottom. By using an Allen wrench, or something similar, you can try to move the flywheel and dislodge the bit that has caused the jam. Move the Allen wrench back and forth. Often this is enough to clear the jam.
But sometimes you need to try to clear the jam from the above. For this use the handle of a wooden spoon and try to get the impellers to move again. With the wooden handle, try to move the impellers by pushing them.
Once you have cleared the jam, you need to remove the item that caused the jam. The safest way to do this is to use long-nose pliers.
Fats are a long-term problem for the plumbing. Never use hot water when running your waste disposer. Hot water can melt fat that which will later solidify. This could block the pipes after a while. Problem with fats in the sewer system is one of the main reasons why some places have banned waste disposers.
You should also be careful with starchy and fibrous vegetables. Most waste disposers have problems with those vegetables and they could also cause blockages.
Make sure that you keep your sink and the entry to the disposer clean. You may want to throw a couple of ice cubes into your disposer once in a while. It is generally not necessary but it can keep the impellers clean. You can also add lemon to the ice to get rid of any odor from the garbage disposer.