Let's say you just dropped a spoon down your drain. Is it possible for the spoon to break your garbage disposal? You know it won't be a good situation, but how dire will it be? We've researched to find out just how much damage you might end up doing and have the answers for you here.
A spoon in your garbage disposal can damage the machine. If you turn on the disposal, hear the clatter of silverware, then the humming of a stuck motor, turn off the switch. Keeping it running won't chop up your spoon to go down the drain, but it can burn out the engine of your disposal. But, if you catch it and turn it off as soon as you hear the clatter, chances are only the spoon will suffer permanent damage.
We'll look at this situation more in-depth in this post. We'll also talk about other items or issues that can break a garbage disposal; even the absolute worst thing is to put down your disposal. In addition, we'll tell you to go about getting that spoon unstuck and how you'll know if your garbage disposal is broken.
So please, keep reading.
Did The Spoon Break The Garbage Disposal?
Garbage disposals are convenient gadgets. They're great for chopping up food debris into fine enough bits that they can be washed down the drain. It keeps your trash from being clogged and your sink area tidy.
But what happens when you accidentally have a spoon slip down the disposal drain, and you're unaware you've done it. The first thing that will happen when you turn your disposal on is you'll hear a terrible clatter. If you're fast and can shut it off quickly, chances are only the spoon will be damaged.
But if you leave it on too long, the spoon could get hung up and stuck in the blades. This will require you to remove the spoon and unstick the mechanism before using your disposal again.
How Do You Get A Spoon Unstuck From A Garbage Disposal?
The best part about getting a spoon stuck in your disposal is that you can probably get it unstuck without calling a plumber. Every unit comes with a special wrench that allows you to work the blades loose to remove stuck objects. (Pro tip: Always unplug your unit entirely before doing this. The disposal could kick back into spin mode once the spoon is removed if it has power.)
Your unit should have come with a special little hex wrench that slides into a slot near the bottom of your disposal. Once you slide it in, you can then loosen the blades, allowing you to reach in and remove the offending spoon.
This wrench is for the Insinkerator brand of disposals. Even if you've lost the one that came with yours, they are readily available online for a small amount of money.
Some builder brands don't have this built-in safety net. In the case of those machines, you'll have to reach from above to the inside to unjam them. Always, always have the power shut off completely when attempting this.
What Can Break A Garbage Disposal?
If a hard metal spoon won't break down a garbage disposal, then what will? The answers may surprise you.
Food Items That May Damage Your Disposal
Food items? Wait a minute. Isn't a disposal supposed to be for grinding up food scraps and washing them away? Yes, that's true, but not all food scraps are created equal when it comes to your garbage disposal.
Some of the worst culprits are things like fruit skins and vegetable peels. This seems nuts because this is what so many of us use our disposals for. The thing to remember here is to make sure you don't have long continuous pieces that can wrap around blades and clog things up.
Other items, which are more common sense, include meat and fish bones that can dull your blades over time. Pits of stone fruit, like plums, peaches, even avocados, can also cause blade damage over time.
Greasy items and pasta may not damage your blades, but they can cause build-up and film on your blades and in your pipes. This can cause a horrible smell. It may also make your drain back up and require you to call out a plumber. If you must wash this type of item down your disposal, always use piping hot water with it.
Non-Food Items That Might Damage Your Disposal
Typically we think of non-food items as what might break down our disposal, and you wouldn't be wrong. But these may be things you hadn't even thought about.
One nasty culprit is the simple rubber band. Many of our flower bouquets and vegetable bundles come with a rubber band wrapped around the stems. If you don't remember to take this off and grind it up, it could get caught up on the blades, causing a jam. And because it doesn't clatter, it might do damage to your motor before you realize it's there.
Other non-food items to look out for are things like your kitchen scrubby or sponge, twist ties, and pull tabs from cartons.
What Is The Absolute Worst Thing To Put Down A Garbage Disposal?
This may be macabre, but for sure, it's your fingers or hand. Though it's tempting to push things into that whirring hole while the machine is running, don't. The disposal can't tell the difference between your finger and a carrot, but you'll surely be able to.
How Do You Know If Your Garbage Disposal Is Broken?
The first sign will be an odd sound like a humming or maybe a screeching sound. This can be a sign that the motor itself is on the way toward dying.
Another sign might be that your unit won't turn on at all. This could indicate an electrical malfunction or a short. Because plumbers can be costly, this might be a situation where it's easier to buy a new unit. You can find drop-in units for under one hundred and fifty dollars if needed.
This unit is both reliable and easy to install. Click here for it on Amazon.
Finally, if your unit is leaking or clogging regularly, it may not be functioning well enough to keep your pipes flowing smoothly. Unfortunately, disposals don't last forever, and sometimes they need to be replaced.
How Long Do Garbage Disposals Last?
We've established that sometimes things happen to our garbage disposals. We put the wrong thing down the drain. We forget to keep our food scraps in small servings. And eventually, the disposal starts to work less and less efficiently.
So how long will the garbage disposal last? If you take care of it and are careful to use it properly, a decent garbage disposal should last for somewhere between 8-15 years without it having to be replaced.
What Can I Put In My Garbage Disposal?
Now that the list of dont's seems to outweigh the need for even having a disposal let's take a right turn. Let's talk about what you can put in your garbage disposal.
Think soft and small. Whatever food scraps you put down your disposal should only be disposed of in small increments. Don't cram an entire cutting board worth of stuff. Instead, think of breaking that into two or three or four servings for your disposal.
Ice is excellent for your disposal blades and even works to clean them. So think of putting a few cubes down a couple of times a week.
Though large quantities of fruit and vegetable peelings can cause tangles around your blades, a judicious slice of citrus will not only act as an astringent cleaner but make your whole kitchen smell fresh and inviting. It also helps to freshen up the plumbing works of your disposal too.
Pay Attention To How You Use It
Now that you've got that spoon out of your disposal, it's time to start fresh. You can always give your disposal a quick check before turning it on. Accidents happen, and though we want to take excellent care of our home appliances, occasionally something goes wrong. But as you can see, it's fixable.
If you find this post helpful here at KitchenSeer.com, please check out a few of our other posts below: