Following clogged toilets, showers or tub drains, clogged garbage disposals are probably one of the most common, everyday home plumbing issues a person can face. By pushing even minor garbage disposal clogs to the wayside, you only put your own drains and fixtures at risk for further damage.
So, you’ve got to take a proactive approach toward clearing debris and materials from garbage disposal units… but what are the best ways to do so? More importantly, what steps can you take in the future to avoid serious disposal clogging altogether?
In this blog article, we go over the best practices for clearing a clogged garbage disposal, as well as preventative tips for keeping your disposal running strong for years to come.
The Use and Risks of Chemical Cleaning Products
Generally, chemical cleaners are okay to use in a pinch, but should never become part of your regular disposal cleaning regimen. The chemical elements within these cleaners react in a way that breaks down and removes stubborn debris; however, it’s this reaction that also eats away at inner disposal and drain walls if cleaners are overused. This is one of home plumbing’s greatest misconceptions. Regular inspection and non-corrosive pipe flushes do more for maintaining a healthy plumbing system than chemical products ever could.
The best way to resolve a stubborn disposal clog isn’t by filling it with chemicals, but rather by accessing the unit below your sink and manually removing debris. The following is a run-through of the steps necessary to properly remove disposal clogs:
- First and foremost, make sure the disposal unit is off before you do anything. This should come as common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check that the unit is unplugged before dealing with the clog.
- Access the main disposal unit beneath your sink, and try to locate a small hole to one side. The opening should be large enough for a screwdriver or hex key to enter.
- With a small tool (such as a hex key), feel around through the disposal unit for resistance; if you meet resistance or snag onto debris materials, you’ve found the source of your clog. Once you’ve found the debris, try pushing it out of place with the hex key or other small tool, free from the blade path.
- If prodding the debris free does not remove residual clogging or severe material build-up, try flushing the unit with either hot water or a baking soda/vinegar mixture. Baking soda and vinegar react in a similar way to chemical cleaners, but without the corrosive risks of chemical cleaning products.
If these steps prove ineffective in removing your garbage disposal clog, it may be time to contact a professional plumber in your area. Putting off the problem will only make matters worse, and potentially ruin your entire unit, costing much more than necessary for something simple like a clog.
Avoiding a Clog in the First Place
Dealing with a stubborn garbage disposal clog is never something homeowners enjoy dealing with; however, there are several simple tricks you can use to prevent clogging altogether, and keep your disposal running worry-free for years to come. For instance, how certain are you of food products that should or should not be processed through your disposal unit?
The following are some tips you can use to maintain your disposal units for the long-term:
- Avoid using your disposal for food waste often responsible for clogging, such as animal bones, cartilage, fibrous skins, oils, shells and rice.
- Perform self-inspections of your entire home plumbing at least once per month, and have a professional look at your pipes, drains and fixtures once annually. In doing so, you can catch most indicators of plumbing problems early on, and avoid costly repairs later by dealing with the problem quickly. That said, there are some things the untrained eye will always miss, so professional inspection should be performed regularly as well.
- Keep your disposal blades sharp by running ice cubes through your unit on a semi-regular basis.
- Try processing citrus fruits or other strongly aromatic foods in your unit to keep your disposal, its blades and the drain pipe it’s connected to smelling clean.
For more tips and information on extending the life of your home garbage disposal and clog removal, don’t hesitate to contact a trained plumbing team in your community.