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We apologize in advanced for stating the obvious, but… garbage disposals absolutely do not last forever! No matter how well it’s made or how much money you spend, any appliance that is exposed to thousands of gallons of running water, dish soap, scraps of food, bones, and the rare (we hope) spoon or lime wedge that accidentally gets dropped into the drain is going to wear out in due time. A unit that’s working well should be able to handle a few scraps of veggies or apple slices in a matter of a couple of seconds. If your garbage disposal seems to take forever to accomplish a simple grinding job, makes a strange noise or emits a nasty smell, it may be time to install a new one.
Garbage disposals first appeared in households in the 1930's and 1940's. These appliances, which are installed under a kitchen sink, can make a cook's life easier by trapping and shredding food waste items, allowing it to pass through the plumbing system. Although these popular appliances make cooking and cleaning much more convenient, they do require regular maintenance to keep them running at optimal performance. When it is time to replace your garbage disposal's blades, you can save time and money by doing it yourself.
Some other kinds of garbage disposal units are powered by water pressure, rather than electricity. Instead of the turntable and grind ring described above, this alternative design has a water-powered unit with an oscillating piston with blades attached to chop the waste into fine pieces. Because of this cutting action, they can handle fibrous waste. Water-powered units take longer than electric ones for a given amount of waste and need fairly high water pressure to function properly.
Because it’s out of sight, it can be easy for some homeowners to forget they even have a garbage disposal — especially if it was installed by a previous owner. However, an unused unit can rust and seize up, which can lead to leaks and mechanical problems. Make a habit of running your disposal for a minute or so every couple of weeks, even if you don’t actually grind anything.
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We’re starting with clogs because they’re actually only *kind of* garbage disposal problems. Technically, garbage disposals can get jammed (see below!), but if water stands in your sink and takes forever to drain, it’s probably because the kitchen sink pipe has been clogged. Many different materials can cause clogs, from sediment, to scale, to grease, to food remains. Depending on the culprit, clogs may begin to smell. Ideally, your garbage disposal should have ground up debris enough that it wouldn’t clog anything up, but nobody’s perfect.
With so many different models of garbage disposals to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out which one will best suit your needs, especially when you begin looking at all of the different features each model has to offer. Reading garbage disposal reviews will be much easier if you know what you are looking for. Here is a glossary of common features found on most modern garbage disposals:
Locate the leak. Wipe off the disposal unit with a dry rag. Run water into the unit and turn it on. There are four places where the disposal unit may leak. At the top main seal, at the drain pipe, at the optional dishwasher inlet or along the garbage disposal body. Notice where the water is coming from. If the unit is wet at the very top, the main seal is leaking. If the area beneath the drain pipe is wet, the gasket is leaking. If the hose from the dishwasher feed drips, the hose or clamp may be faulty. If water is running out the bottom of the unit but the inlets and outlet are dry, the unit itself has developed a leak and must be replaced.
Another common cause for a leaking garbage disposal is the disposal flange. A leak at the very most upper area of the garbage disposal could be the garbage disposal flange which goes through the sink. A garbage disposal flange should be sealed with Plumber’s putty and then tightened from underneath the sink. If this is not tight enough or if it has managed to come loose (which can happen) then the garbage disposal will have to be taken down so the flange can be resealed and then the garbage disposal can be rehung.