Disposal Woes

There is nothing like interrupting your Sunday morning preparations in order to join your roommate in plunging the kitchen sink. Plunger? Kitchen sink? Yes, good people a hard learned lesson in our apartment this past Sunday was that not everything should go down a garbage disposal.

I absolutely enjoy the nervous giggles when chicks ask for help. I mean one time I set the toaster oven on fire at work, let me rephrase: food in the toaster oven caught fire. I recall approaching my manager with that nervous laugh.. “Michelle…” Her joking response was classic: “What is the toaster oven on fire?” Insert more nervous laughter. Yes, Michelle, you were right in one. Merely to say, I recognize the signs of assistance needed—especially when it’s because of something the person did.

So there I was, dressed and ready for church (which mean hair done, nice skirt and top, heels, make up—I occasionally pretend to care about my appearance), when roommate enters and describes the tragic tale: Potato peels (about 10 potatoes worth), garbage disposal, sink not draining. In my apartment we have a double sink, so during this potato fiasco, when we would turn the garbage disposal on, water and hacked potato bits would come surging out of the other side. The next couple hours involved nervous laughter, sink plunging, potato scooping, and random reactions as we get splashed with water. Oh, we also discovered the water backed up into our dishwasher as well—talk about a disaster.

The problem was eventually solved. . . with a plumber that is.

So this post is some tips on garbage disposers, and how to avoid humorous (yet stressful) situations like above:

What not to put in a garbage disposal:

  • Anything stringy or fibrous is a bad idea: celery, asparagus, yo yos (you get the idea). The strings get caught in the blades, and effectively you’ve just strangled the disposal to death.
  • Starches are huge no nos: pasta, rice, and potato peelings. This is two-fold: the starches tend to form a gluey substance that can get caught in your pipes; and rice and pasta tend to expand in contact with water, again blocking the pipes.
  • Bones, unpopped popcorn kernels or large fruit pits: Seriously? This came up enough during my internet searches that I was flabbergasted. Honestly now, be a little smart.
  • Eggshells: Apparently the pieces are prone to catch on clogs that are already forming

And just a note: depending on the disposal unit, a variety of things can be handled in small amounts. Demonstrating a bit of moderation is a wise thing.

Keeping it fresh, clean, and working:

  • Always run the unit with cold water running for 30-60 seconds after the food has cleared.
  • Toss a couple ice cubes down every now and then and run the disposal unit. You can even make ice cubes out of lemon juice to help deodorize as well.
  • Put slices of lemon rind and let the garbage disposal grind it.
  • Pour some baking soda in the garbage disposal, then pour vinegar over it. Let it foam for a while before rinsing and running the unit.

A good resource: http://www.wikihow.com/Maintain-a-Garbage-Disposal

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