Home Inspection Insights

Lawrence M. Watkins, Specsure Property Inspections

10 Easy Tips to Keep your Garbage Disposal Running Smoothly

garbage disposal


Although garbage disposals were illegal in New York City until 1997, Western New York homeowners have long enjoyed the easy and convenient way to dispose of certain food scraps. As a leading Buffalo-area home inspection company, we know garbage disposals can add value to your home – provided you keep them running in tip-top shape.


Check out some garbage disposal maintenance and troubleshooting tips to keep your disposal performing its best for the long haul.


Garbage Disposal Maintenance Tips


Notice we mentioned garbage disposals were a convenient way to dispose of certain food scraps. Biodegradable food scraps are the only things disposals are designed to handle, and not every food scrap qualifies as a good candidate for your disposal.


  • Avoid food items prone to clogging your disposal. These include fibrous food items, such as celery or corn husks, as well as grease, oil, bones, and food that expands, like rice or spaghetti. Large amounts of potato skins are another item to avoid, as the starches in the peels turn into a paste that gunk up the blades.


  • Break larger items into smaller chunks before feeding them to your disposal.


  • Run your garbage disposal on a regular basis. Frequently running your disposal helps to prevent corrosion, rust and accumulated obstructions while ensuring parts remain mobile.


  • Keep your unit clean. Pour a bit of dishwashing liquid down the disposal and let it run for a few minutes with cold water after washing the dishes.


  • Only use cold water when running your disposal. Cold water solidifies grease and oil, allowing it be chopped up before being sent down the drain. Hot water liquefies grease, making it much more likely to clog.


  • Grind up a few ice cubes in the disposal about once a month. This helps keep the blades sharp while removing waste stuck to disposal walls.


Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting Tips


Even with the best maintenance, your garbage disposal may act up from time to time. These troubleshooting tips can help.


  • Jams: Most disposals have a hole beneath them where you can insert an Allen wrench to hand-crank the unit to clear out the jam.


  • Not turning on or grinding: Garbage disposals have a black or red reset button somewhere on the motor beneath the sink. Simply push the button to reset the disposal.


  • Nasty odors: Regularly grind up pieces of lemon or orange to keep nasty odors at bay. Baking soda can help with especially stubborn odors. Pour it into the drain and let it set for set for a few hours, then turn on the cold water and the disposal.


  • Fallen object you need to retrieve: Unplug the disposal. Use a flashlight to pinpoint the exact location of the object, then retrieve it with small pliers or an unbent coat hanger if possible. It’s always safest not to put your hand directly into the disposal.


With proper maintenance and smart troubleshooting, your garbage disposal can continue to add value and provide a convenient perk to your Western New York home.