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Garbage disposals are fantastic additions to any kitchen. These compact appliances help you eliminate food waste safely and efficiently. As powerful as these little machines are, they are not indestructible. Sun City Mechanical, LLC, installs garbage disposals for residents of Sun City and the West Valley in Arizona. As part of our service, we explain how to get the most out of your garbage disposal and how to best use it so it lasts for many years. The type and power of the unit largely determines what you can put down your garbage disposal.

Types of Garbage Disposal Units

Garbage disposals come in two basic styles. The most popular is a continuous feed garbage disposal. A wall switch controls the power, and you can run the unit without a stopper covering the opening. A less common style of garbage disposal is the batch feed. Instead of a wall switch, the unit is powered by electric sensors in the stopper.

Grinding Capacity of Garbage Disposals

In addition to the styles of garbage disposals, there are also different grinding capacities. A disposal with more horsepower can grind more types of food waste. Additionally, the horsepower affects how much food waste the disposal can handle on a daily basis.

A one-third horsepower garbage disposal is the smallest unit that you can install. This is the best option for households with only one or two people who only use the unit a couple of times per month. These garbage disposals can only handle a few types of food waste, such as leftover food, some fruit, most vegetable peels, and other soft foods and large crumbs.

For households with one to two people who need to use their garbage disposal about once or twice a week, we recommend a half-horsepower unit. In addition to the foods that a one-third horsepower disposal can handle, the additional capacity allows you to grind small fish bones and some cooked meats.

If your Sun City household has three to four people who need to use the garbage disposal about twice a week, the experts at Sun City Mechanical recommend a three-quarters horsepower unit. It can handle the same food waste as the smaller units as well as raw meat, chicken bones, and seeds and pits from fruits.

For the ultimate food waste grinding capacity, we recommend a 1-horsepower garbage disposal. It is large enough for daily use in a household of four or more people. These disposals can grind just about any type of food waste, including pork and beef rib bones, chicken bones, fish bones, and fruit pits and seeds.

Which Foods Can Go in Your Garbage Disposal?

Your garbage disposal can handle coffee grounds, but just because it can doesn’t mean that you should wash coffee grounds down the drain. The grounds can clog the pipes easily, so only put a small amount of coffee grounds down the disposal.

For example, if you have a reusable coffee filter, dump the used coffee grounds into your garbage or compost pile. Be sure to get as much as you can out of the filter. Then, you can rinse the filter in the sink so that only trace amounts of grounds go down the drain. You won’t even have to run your disposal. Coffee grounds actually work well as a fertilizer, so it might be better to sprinkle them around your plants and garden.

Although rice and pasta may seem like good types of food waste to put down your disposal, this isn’t true. They actually should never go into the unit. Rice and pasta expand with exposure to water, so even if your disposal grinds these food items to mush, the pasta or rice still has the capacity to expand in your pipes and cause clogs. Rice and pasta can build up so much in the plumbing of Sun City homes that the pipes burst, so be sure that all rice and pasta goes into the garbage or compost.

Grease and oil are bad for your plumbing in every instance. Grease congeals when it cools down, and this clogs your pipes. Oil leaves a residue in your garbage disposal and pipes that gives food waste the perfect place to stick. It’s best to dump cool grease and oil into your trash can or compost. Never put oil or grease down your drain for any reason.

Foods That Clean and Deodorize Your Disposal

Although ice cubes aren’t technically food waste, they are good for your garbage disposal. Grinding ice cubes in a garbage disposal dislodges any food waste particles from the blades. This helps your garbage disposal work better and eliminates odors.

Also, all levels of garbage disposals can handle grinding up citrus rinds. Not only do you quickly get rid of this food waste, but they’re a quick way to clean and deodorize your disposal.

For a deeper clean, pour about a half-cup of baking soda into your disposal and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then, pour in 1 cup of vinegar. This will cause the baking soda to bubble. After about three minutes, rinse your disposal with hot water. Neutralize the vinegar smell by grinding up some lemon or orange peel.

Cold Water is a Must for Garbage Disposals

Cold water is the one thing that should always be put into your garbage disposal, regardless of the style or grinding capacity. The water helps to flush out the food particles from the unit. Avoid using hot water unless you’re finishing a deep clean. This can actually cause the food particles to stick to the blades and other parts of the unit.

It is a common misunderstanding that garbage disposal blades need to be sharpened like knives. The blades of your garbage disposal are actually bent pieces of metal that are attached to a spinning plate. Trying to sharpen the blades with hard food waste actually bends the blades and may jam the unit.

Garbage disposals are sturdy machines that are built to last, but this assumes proper use. Accidents do happen, though. The occasional hard bone, glass shard, or pebble won’t cause any permanent damage to the unit. It’s when you habitually put the wrong food waste in the unit that it will break down. Garbage disposals can be repaired, but it is often most cost-effective to replace the entire unit. Some of the most common issues that we see are:

  • Bent or broken grinding blades
  • Cracked seals and leaks
  • Loose connection that cause the unit to shutter
  • Clogged and burst pipes
  • Food particles spewing out of the drain

When in Doubt, Throw It Out

Garbage disposals are designed to last 10 to 12 years. If you ever have questions about how to use your unit, the professionals at Sun City Mechanical are always here to help. As a general rule, if you aren’t sure about putting a certain type of food waste in your disposal, it’s best to throw it out or put it in your compost. Should you find that your garbage disposal doesn’t meet your needs, we can recommend an upgraded model. We offer installation and repair services for garbage disposals.

Expert Services for Your Garbage Disposal

Sun City Mechanical specializes in residential garbage disposals for homes in Sun City, the West Valley, and surrounding areas of Arizona. Whether you need a new unit or repairs to your existing disposal, we are here to help. We also offer professional plumbing, heating, and cooling services. Give us a call today to learn more.