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Do Garbage Disposals Cause Plumbing Problems? How to Avoid Issues

July 26 2021

While garbage disposals are rare in other parts of the world, in the US, we love them. Yet using a garbage disposal isn’t without its risks, and you need to follow certain procedures to get the most out of yours. Do garbage disposals cause plumbing problems? Properly used, these devices won’t cause clogged sinks or other plumbing problems, yet improper use can result in serious plumbing issues!

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at how to use a garbage disposal efficiently, and show you how to make the most of yours while avoiding any plumbing problems. Let’s get started!

1. Use Your Garbage Disposal Regularly

This is about as easy as plumbing tips get. The blades in your garbage disposal require regular use or they can rust, which will reduce their efficacy. This means that even if you’re not putting anything down the disposal at this very moment, you should still turn it on regularly and allow it to run.

This will also get rid of any food waste that’s stuck, preventing it from causing any clogs or rotting and causing your drain to smell.

2. Avoid Overloading Your Garbage Disposal

While it can be tempting to try to force a lot of peels or other bits and pieces down your garbage disposal, be patient. You should avoid overstuffing your garbage disposal by putting food waste down it in batches. When you overload the disposal, you vastly increase your risk of a clog due to the sheer volume of garbage that you’re feeding it.

When you’ve got a particularly large piece of food waste, such as a melon rind, you should cut it into smaller pieces before you feed it down the disposal, which will make it a lot easier to grind.

3. Always Avoid These Items

There are certain items that you should never put down a garbage disposal. Let’s take a closer look at some food waste to avoid.

Coffee Grounds

This one may come as a bit of a shock to some people. Putting coffee grounds down a garbage disposal is often recommended as a folk remedy to reduce smells, but this should be avoided. Coffee has a tendency to clump together and cause clogs.


If you feed chicken or pork bones into your garbage disposal, you run a real risk of damaging your garbage disposal’s blades. They weren’t designed to cope with food waste this tough.

Fibrous Vegetables

Fibrous vegetables like pumpkins can cause serious issues for your garbage disposal. Think of how pumpkin fibers get stuck to your fingers. That’s what will happen to your garbage disposal if you put them down there: it’s a clog waiting to happen.

Starchy Foods

Starchy foods like potato peels and pasta can play havoc with your garbage disposal. Potato peels can get stuck in the pipe, stopping other waste from passing. Pasta can absorb water and cause a jam.

4. Only Use Cold Water

You should only ever use cold water while running your garbage disposal. Cold water keeps fats and grease in the food waste solid, which makes it easier to flush them down the pipe. It will also be easier to remove a fat clog if it’s solid.

When you use warm or hot water with your garbage disposal, the fats will liquefy, which will not solve the clog: it’ll just spread it over a wider area and make it worse.

5. Clean Your Garbage Disposal Regularly

Keeping your garbage disposal clean is vital if you want to keep your kitchen free of odors and keep your garbage disposal running as it should. Cleaning it is pretty easy, too. All you’ll need are ice cubes, rock salt, vinegar, and baking soda.

To start with, pour ice cubes and a cup of rock salt down your garbage disposal and run it for around a minute. The abrasives should remove any grime, dirt, grease, and other detritus. Then you need to pour a cup of vinegar and a half-cup of baking soda down the garbage disposal and allow it to stand, then drain.

6. Let Your Garbage Disposal Grind Food Waste Thoroughly

You shouldn’t rush your garbage disposal. When you’ve put food waste down the disposal, wait until you’ve heard everything get ground up, then leave the garbage disposal running for around 30 seconds more.

This allows the garbage disposal time to grind everything into small enough pieces that can then be flushed down the pipe efficiently.

7. Repair Safety Tips

Now that we’ve taken a look at some best practices for using a garbage disposal effectively, we should consider how to fix it should something go wrong. This is a device that could very badly injure you if you attempt to repair it without taking adequate safety measures. Let’s take a look at what you need to do.

Always Turn the Garbage Disposal Off Before You Start

The last thing that you want to happen is for the garbage disposal to jump into life while you’re fixing it. Make sure that you’ve turned it off before you so much as think about repairing it.

Flip the Circuit Breaker Before You Unclog It

If you’re going to stick your hand down the disposal, you should turn it off at the circuit breaker rather than trusting the switch. You’re dealing with dangerous blades here: don’t take any chances.

Do Garbage Disposals Cause Plumbing Problems?

As long as you adhere to the usage and repair tips that we’ve laid out, you shouldn’t have any issues with your garbage disposal. When people ask “do garbage disposals cause plumbing problems?” it’s often because they’ve tried to grind something too large or fallen foul of one of the other rules we’ve mentioned.

If your disposal has gone wrong and you’re in need of plumbing parts, we can help you. For more information, take a look at our locations and get in touch with us if you have any questions.

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