Having a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink can be incredibly handy. But if this household appliance becomes clogged, you may suddenly start to think that it’s more trouble than it’s worth. A malfunctioning garbage disposal can render your sink unusable for a while. To avoid trouble, pay attention to what you’re sending down the disposal.

Protect Your Garbage Disposal from Damage

Inside a garbage disposal are blades called impellers. Most people assume that these blades chop food scraps using sharp edges, but that’s not the case. Rather, the job of these impellers is to push food toward the grinding ring. This ring has sharp grooves. When the food scraps are pushed toward the ring, the grooves grind the food into tiny bits that can be washed down the waste pipe.

Learning how your garbage disposal works can also help you understand why not everything should be sent down into it. Some items are too small, and they can slip past the impellers instead of being sent into the grinding ring. Other items are too tough to grind. Anything that can get wrapped around the disposal’s components is a concern as well. You should also be careful with items that may form a blockage in the waste pipe.

When you put the wrong things in your garbage disposal, the unit or the pipe may become clogged. You’ll then need to call a plumber in Norcross to take care of the problem. Problematic items can also cause the motor to burn out, requiring garbage disposal repair or replacement. While Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing‘s plumbers are ready to help when needed, it’s best to avoid clogs and breakdowns by keeping risky items out of your garbage disposal.

Keep These Items Out of Your Garbage Disposal

The first rule of owning a garbage disposal is that, if it’s not a food item, it shouldn’t go down your sink. Only edible items should be sent to the disposal. Don’t stick food wrappers or anything else that’s non-consumable in there. Some foods shouldn’t be put in the garbage disposal. The following items are better discarded another way.

Starchy Foods

While the soft texture of grains and starches may allow for easy grinding, these items expand when they get wet. This can lead to clogs in your plumbing system. While some residual starches here and there should be fine, you will want to avoid putting large amounts of rice, bread, oats, or noodles in the garbage disposal.

Starchy vegetables should be avoided as well. For example, keep potatoes out of the disposal. They can turn glue-like after being ground up, which can gum up the interior spaces of your plumbing.

Grease and Fat

Bacon grease, melted butter, and similar substances may appear to pour down your drain just fine. Unfortunately, out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind. Liquid fat will solidify as it cools. Then, it can get stuck in your plumbing and lead to blockages. Instead of risking a problem, let grease cool to room temperature and dispose of it in your household trash can.

Vegetable Peels and Onion Skins

Vegetable peels tend to be quite thin. For example, think about how finely a vegetable peeler removes the outer layer from a carrot. These wafer-thin peels are a problem because they often slip past a garbage disposal’s impellers. As a result, they can end up in the plumbing without first being ground into bits. This process can lead to clogs.


Similar to onions, eggshells have a membrane. An egg’s membrane is just as problematic for a garbage disposal as an onion membrane. The membrane might not make it into the grinding ring. There’s also a chance that it will get wrapped around the impeller blades or another part of the system.

Items with Strings

Celery and asparagus are known for being stringy vegetables, and corn on the cob comes with string-like silks. These strings can cause a number of problems for your garbage disposal. They’re likely to wrap around the blades or the grinding teeth, reducing how well the disposal works or even jamming the system. While a stray string here or there may not lock up your garbage disposal, it’s best to keep stringy fruits and vegetables away from it as much as possible. Even banana peels are a disposal no-go because of their stringy interior.

Coffee Grounds

It may be tempting to dump the contents of your used coffee filter into the sink each morning, but it’s not a good idea. Like starchy foods, wet coffee grounds can form a paste-like mass. Over time, this material can cause plumbing blockages.

Pits, Nuts, and Seeds

Fruits such as cherries, mangos, avocados, and peaches have pits that don’t grind easily. Trying to break them up can take a serious toll on your garbage disposal. You could break a component or simply wear out the motor. The same goes for many nuts and seeds. In fact, nuts present a double risk. Not only can they be hard to grind, but many turn thick and paste-like in the process.


All animal bones should be discarded in your trash can. Whether the bones are from chicken, fish, steak, or another type of meat, don’t try sending them down the drain. Keep poultry skin out of the disposal as well. These items are too much for a disposal to handle. Not to mention, any bones, skin, or other meat bits that get stuck in your system will soon start to smell pretty terrible.

Take Care of Your Garbage Disposal

Despite your best efforts, an errant food scrap might eventually make its way into your garbage disposal to wreak havoc. When that happens, it’s best not to try fixing the problem yourself. Instead, rely on the services of a professional plumber.

Professionals can quickly clear clogs without relying on chemicals that may damage your equipment or harm your health. They can repair malfunctioning units too. Working with a garbage disposal’s powerful parts can be risky, but plumbers know how to do the job safely.

In addition, plumbers will let you know whether you are a good candidate for a garbage disposal replacement or upgrade. If so, your plumbing company can set you up with the right unit and install it safely and securely. When you depend on the professionals, you can trust that your garbage disposal will work efficiently and safely.

When you need a garbage disposal professional, call the plumbers at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in Norcross. Our plumbers also deal with gas lines, sewer lines, water heaters, and other plumbing components. For your full-service home needs, Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing takes care of heating and cooling as well. Give us a call for furnace and air conditioning maintenance, repairs, or installations. We’re a carrier factory authorized dealer and have received awards from Nextdoor, Angi, and HomeAdvisor. Schedule your appointment with Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing and see why customers love working with our Norcross team.

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