Understanding Garbage Disposal Repair and Maintenance

Dec 29, 2023 | DIY, Resources

Maintaining a well-functioning garbage disposal is paramount to ensuring its longevity and optimal performance in your household. Whether you’re a homeowner or managing a commercial space, understanding the nuances of garbage disposal repair and maintenance is essential. This comprehensive guide aims to provide insights into proper care practices, routine maintenance tips, optimal usage practices, regular cleaning techniques, maintenance procedures, and troubleshooting steps. By following these guidelines from Service by Scott, you can proactively contribute to a smoothly operating and odor-free garbage disposal system, potentially minimizing the need for repairs and extending its overall lifespan.

Now, let’s delve into the key aspects of garbage disposal care, beginning with routine maintenance tips to keep your disposal in top-notch condition.

Understanding Garbage Disposal

Routine Maintenance Tips

Proper maintenance is the key to ensuring the longevity and efficient operation of your garbage disposal. Here are essential routine maintenance tips to keep your disposal in optimal condition.

Turn Off the Disposal During Maintenance

Before embarking on any maintenance task, it is crucial to ensure that the garbage disposal is switched off. This not only safeguards against accidents but also provides a secure environment for performing necessary upkeep. Before reaching into the disposal or attempting any cleaning, double-check that the power is completely off.

Regularly Run the Garbage Disposal

An active disposal is a healthy disposal. Regularly running the garbage disposal helps prevent rust and corrosion by ensuring that moving parts stay lubricated. Even if you don’t have food waste to dispose of, it’s advisable to run the disposal with cold water to maintain its overall functionality. This practice contributes to a smoother operation and extends the lifespan of the disposal unit.

Avoid Products That Damage Disposals

Mindful disposal practices involve steering clear of substances that can harm the disposal over time. Items like grease, fibrous foods, and non-food items should never find their way into the disposal. Grease can solidify and clog pipes, while fibrous foods can wrap around the blades, leading to jams. Being discerning about what goes down the disposal can significantly reduce the risk of malfunctions.

Pay Attention to the Size and Quantity of Waste

While garbage disposals are robust, they do have limitations. Avoid overloading the disposal with large or excessive amounts of waste. Break down larger items into smaller pieces before disposal to prevent strain on the motor and minimize the risk of jams. Being mindful of the size and quantity of waste you introduce to the disposal goes a long way in maintaining its efficiency.

Understanding Garbage Disposal

Optimal Usage Practices

Beyond routine maintenance, adopting optimal usage practices is crucial for maximizing the efficiency and lifespan of your garbage disposal. Let’s explore key practices that contribute to the smooth operation of this essential kitchen appliance.

Use Plenty of Cold Water

Running cold water while operating the disposal serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it helps solidify grease, preventing it from accumulating in the pipes and causing blockages. Secondly, the continuous flow of cold water aids in flushing down food particles, ensuring a thorough and clean disposal process. This simple yet effective practice not only enhances the disposal’s functionality but also promotes a healthier and more hygienic kitchen environment.

Cut Food into Small Pieces

To reduce strain on the disposal’s motor and minimize the risk of jams, it’s advisable to cut food into smaller pieces before sending it down the drain. Large or bulky items can overwhelm the disposal, leading to inefficiencies and potential malfunctions. By pre-cutting food into manageable pieces, you contribute to a smoother disposal process, prolonging the life of the unit.

Avoid Expandable Foods

Certain foods tend to expand or absorb water, posing a risk of clogs in the disposal and pipes. Items like pasta and rice should be kept out of the disposal to prevent them from swelling and causing blockages. Being mindful of the types of foods you dispose of plays a significant role in maintaining a trouble-free garbage disposal system.

Use Citrus Rinds and Ice

For a natural and refreshing approach to cleaning your garbage disposal, consider utilizing citrus rinds and ice cubes. The acidity of citrus helps break down grease and eliminate odors, while the ice cubes assist in cleaning the blades and removing any residual debris. This simple and eco-friendly method not only keeps your disposal smelling fresh but also contributes to its overall cleanliness and optimal performance.

Regular Cleaning Techniques

Regular cleaning is a fundamental aspect of garbage disposal maintenance, ensuring not only a fresh-smelling kitchen but also the efficient operation of the unit. Let’s explore effective cleaning techniques to keep your garbage disposal in optimal condition.

Clean the Garbage Disposal Every Two Weeks

Establishing a routine for cleaning your garbage disposal is essential in preventing unpleasant odors and maintaining its functionality. Every two weeks, take a few minutes to clean the disposal thoroughly. Begin by turning off the unit and then use a brush or scrubbing pad to clean the visible parts, including the rubber flaps and blades. To eliminate lingering odors, consider placing a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the disposal, followed by a flush of cold water.

Try Citrus as a Freshener

Citrus fruits, such as lemons or oranges, can serve as natural deodorizers for your garbage disposal. Cut the citrus rinds into small pieces and feed them into the disposal while running cold water. The acidity of the citrus helps neutralize odors, leaving behind a refreshing scent. This simple and eco-friendly technique not only freshens up the disposal but also contributes to a cleaner and more pleasant kitchen environment.

Inspect and Clean Regularly

Regular inspections are crucial for identifying and addressing potential issues before they escalate. During the cleaning routine, inspect the disposal for any signs of wear, corrosion, or foreign objects that may have accidentally entered the unit. Addressing these issues promptly can prevent more significant problems and extend the overall lifespan of your garbage disposal.

Maintain a Careful Approach

When cleaning the garbage disposal, exercise caution and follow safety guidelines. Always turn off the unit before cleaning, and avoid putting your hand or any foreign objects into the disposal. Using soft brushes or scrubbing pads designed for disposal cleaning can help maintain cleanliness without damaging the unit. By incorporating these regular cleaning techniques into your maintenance routine, you contribute to a hygienic and smoothly functioning garbage disposal system.

Understanding Garbage Disposal

Maintenance Procedures

Beyond routine care and cleaning, specific maintenance procedures are crucial to ensure the optimal performance and longevity of your garbage disposal. Let’s explore essential steps you can take to maintain your disposal unit effectively.

Lubricate Appropriately

Periodic lubrication is a key maintenance procedure that can contribute to the smooth operation of your garbage disposal. While disposals are designed with sealed bearings, applying a few drops of household lubricating oil to the bearings can help reduce friction and wear on the moving parts. This simple step is especially beneficial for preventing the motor from overworking and prolonging the overall lifespan of the disposal unit.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

When it comes to maintaining your garbage disposal, it’s crucial to avoid the use of harsh chemical drain cleaners. These chemicals can not only damage the disposal unit itself but also harm the pipes and negatively impact the environment. Instead of relying on chemical solutions, consider natural alternatives such as baking soda and vinegar for cleaning and deodorizing. This environmentally friendly approach ensures effective maintenance without compromising the integrity of your disposal system.

Be Mindful of Safety Measures

During any maintenance procedure, prioritizing safety is paramount. Always disconnect the power supply to the garbage disposal before attempting any maintenance tasks. Whether you’re lubricating moving parts or inspecting the unit, taking this precautionary step helps minimize the risk of accidents and ensures a secure environment for maintenance activities.

Schedule Professional Inspections

While homeowners can perform certain maintenance tasks, it’s advisable to schedule periodic professional inspections for a more in-depth assessment of your garbage disposal. Professional plumbers, like those at Service by Scott, can identify potential issues that may not be apparent during routine maintenance. This proactive approach allows for timely repairs and adjustments, ultimately preventing major malfunctions and extending the life of your garbage disposal.

By incorporating these maintenance procedures into your routine, you contribute to a well-maintained and efficient garbage disposal system. The combination of DIY care and professional inspections ensures that your disposal unit operates at its best, minimizing the likelihood of unexpected breakdowns and enhancing its overall performance.

Troubleshooting and Repairs

Even with diligent maintenance, issues may arise with your garbage disposal. Recognizing the signs of trouble and understanding how to troubleshoot common problems is crucial. This section will guide you through troubleshooting steps and offer insights into addressing issues before considering professional repairs.

Know When to Call a Pro

Understanding the limits of DIY troubleshooting is vital. If you encounter persistent problems, such as strange noises, persistent clogs, or a disposal that won’t turn on, it’s time to call in professional help. Trained technicians, like those at Service by Scott, have the expertise to diagnose complex issues and provide effective solutions. Ignoring significant problems can lead to further damage and costly repairs, so don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance when needed.

If Your Garbage Disposal Stops Working

When faced with a non-functional garbage disposal, follow a systematic approach to identify and address common problems. Check if the disposal is plugged in, and the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped, and use the disposal’s reset button. If the disposal is still unresponsive, it may indicate a more serious issue, requiring professional attention.

Addressing Jams and Unusual Noises

Jams are a common issue with garbage disposals. If you hear unusual noises or the disposal is struggling to operate, turn off the unit immediately. Use a disposal or Allen wrench to manually rotate the blades and dislodge obstructions. Avoid using excessive force, and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. If the problem persists, consult with a professional plumber to prevent further damage.

Leaks and Unpleasant Odors

Leaks and unpleasant odors can be indicators of underlying issues. Inspect connections for visible leaks, tighten loose parts, and replace damaged components if necessary. To eliminate odors, follow the regular cleaning techniques, using natural deodorizers like citrus peels. If leaks persist or odors persist despite cleaning efforts, a professional inspection is recommended to identify and address the root cause.

By familiarizing yourself with these troubleshooting steps, you can address minor issues promptly and seek professional assistance when necessary. Timely attention ensures the continued efficiency of your garbage disposal, minimizing the risk of extensive repairs. Remember, the expertise of professionals is invaluable when dealing with complex issues, ensuring the long-term functionality of your disposal unit.

Understanding Garbage Disposal


In conclusion, understanding and implementing proper care for your garbage disposal is essential to ensure its longevity and efficient performance. By following the comprehensive guide provided by Service by Scott, you can proactively contribute to a smoothly operating and odor-free garbage disposal system, whether in your home or commercial space.

From routine maintenance tips like turning off the disposal during upkeep and regularly running it to optimal usage practices such as using plenty of cold water and avoiding harmful substances, these practices contribute to a trouble-free disposal experience. Regular cleaning techniques, maintenance procedures like proper lubrication, and the ability to troubleshoot common issues are crucial elements in sustaining the optimal functionality of your disposal unit.

Remember, timely attention to minor issues and professional inspections when needed can prevent major malfunctions and extend the overall lifespan of your garbage disposal. Should you encounter persistent problems or require expert assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to Service by Scott. With over 30 years of experience serving Tyler County and neighboring areas, our licensed professionals are ready to address your plumbing and maintenance needs promptly and efficiently. Contact us today to ensure your garbage disposal continues to operate seamlessly for years to come.


How often should I run my garbage disposal?

It’s advisable to run your garbage disposal regularly, even if you don’t have food waste to dispose of. Running it with cold water helps prevent rust and corrosion, ensuring smoother operation. A quick run every day or two can contribute to maintaining the disposal’s efficiency.

Can I dispose of grease in the garbage disposal?

No, it’s not recommended. Grease can solidify and cause blockages in both the disposal and pipes. Dispose of grease by letting it cool and then placing it in a separate container for disposal with your regular trash.

What items should I avoid putting in the garbage disposal?

Avoid putting fibrous foods (like celery), non-food items, and grease down the disposal. These can lead to jams, clogs, and damage to the disposal components. Opt for disposing of these items in your regular trash.

How can I eliminate odors from my garbage disposal?

Use citrus peels to naturally freshen up the disposal. Cut citrus rinds into small pieces, run them through the disposal with cold water, and follow up with a baking soda and vinegar mixture to neutralize odors. Regular cleaning and maintenance also help prevent unpleasant smells.

What should I do if my garbage disposal stops working?

Start by checking if it’s plugged in and the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped, and use the reset button on the disposal. If the issue persists, it’s time to call a professional plumber. Ignoring persistent problems may lead to further damage, and timely expert assistance can prevent costly repairs.