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Four Types of Foods You Shouldn't Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

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Your garbage disposal is one of the under-appreciated appliances in your home. Thanks to this small, out-of-sight machine, you have a safe and convenient way of disposing of food waste that doesn’t involve throwing it in the garbage. Food waste is a big issue, as it causes household odors, attracts pests like cockroaches and mice, and can be extremely difficult to manage. With a garbage disposal, much of your food waste can simply be tossed down the drain, where it flows out to your sewer line and can be easily and safely disposed of.

However, garbage disposals can’t handle everything when it comes to food waste. Some foods simply can’t be ground up while other types of waste can present problems for your system, or worse, cause a pesky drain clog behind the disposal itself. To help you take better care of your kitchen drains and prevent the hassle or frustration of an issue, here is a short list of four different types of foods you should avoid putting down your garbage disposal.

Solid Foods

This is a bit of a misnomer: we don’t usually eat “solid” foods. Things like eggshells, shrimp shells, or crab and lobster shells are often thought of as good to put down the drain because they “sharpen the blades” in your garbage disposal. This isn’t true. First, your garbage disposal doesn’t have blades, just rotors with teeth which grind up food waste to make it easier to dispose. Second, these shells can actually jam up your rotors if they become lodged in the right spot, and likewise the shells themselves are great fuel for drain clogs. They quickly become stuck to any grime that’s stuck in your pipe and give other food waste an easy, convenient surface to grab on to.

Stringy Foods

Stringy foods like Asparagus are usually high in fiber and thus great for your diet. What they’re not great for is your garbage disposal. Stringy foods can become entangled in your spinning rotors, causing the fibers to get stuck where they can sit and rot, causing odors. And like eggshells and other solid foods, they also quickly contribute to drain clogs which block up your drain line. Fixing a clog behind a garbage disposal is a lot of work, so it’s best to try and avoid it as much as possible.

Starchy Foods

Starchy foods like potatoes and breads have a common characteristic: they expand when they get wet, and the water that goes down your drain makes them grow and become sticky. While your disposal itself can handle these foods without too much issue, small amounts can get stuck inside your disposal where they rot and cause odors. However, as with the other types of foods, they can also greatly contribute to a clogged drain. Starchy foods tend to thicken other types of foods, which make them stickier and harder to wash away. As a result, they stick to the sides of your plumbing easier and become a great starting point for a clog.

Fatty Foods

This is perhaps the worst type of food to put down your drain: leftover fat or grease from things like beef, bacon, or other meats. You may be tempted to think that simply putting the fat down the drain while running hot water will get rid of the problem without causing the harmful consequences. However, this isn’t usually the case. Metal plumbing quickly causes water to lose heat, and the fat that doesn’t mix with water quickly settles on a pipe surface, where it solidifies and forms the foundation of a clog. This can happen anywhere along your drain line, which means that you’re really risking it by putting this stuff down the drain.

Instead, simply put the fat in a jar or old can and throw it away in the regular trash. This is the far safer and more reliable way of getting rid of fat without putting any extra risk on your plumbing.

If you’ve got a pesky clog, call H.L. Moe Co., Inc. at (818) 396-8002 and let us get it cleared up for you today!

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