Can you put eggshells in a garbage disposal?
When it comes to discarding waste using a garbage disposal, one common assumption might be that any garbage can go down the drain. However, to avoid plumbing problems, there are certain things, like eggshells, that you shouldn’t put down your garbage disposal.
A common misconception is that due to their bumpy and grainy nature, eggshells can sharpen disposal blades. However, garbage disposals actually don’t use blades — rather, they have impellers.
What’s true is that eggshells can harm your garbage disposal. The interior part of the shell contains a thin coating — known as the bloom or cuticle — that can wrap itself around the impeller and prevent it from working well. The coating can also create a blockage in your plumbing system.
There are other things your garbage disposal can’t handle. This article will walk you through how your garbage disposal works and the do’s and don’ts to adhere to while using it.
How do garbage disposals work?
If you have ever wondered how a garbage disposal works, here’s a quick description of its grinding mechanism.
The device is installed under the kitchen sink, somewhere between the drain and the trap. When washing dishes or discarding garbage, you simply turn on your disposal. Inside the disposal is the grinding chamber where you have the impeller. The impeller spins rapidly and forces the food waste collected from the sink against the wall of the grinding chamber. This breaks the food down into small pieces, which are then flushed through the drain.
Garbage disposals are electrically powered. They are either hard-wired or have power cables that can be plugged into electric boxes located not too far from the sink cabinet.
What things should you put in your garbage disposal?
Below are a few things that can go down the garbage disposal. These are hand-picked because they also serve the purpose of disposal care.
- Cold running water: Water is a necessity while running your garbage disposal because without water, your garbage disposal might get clogged or could give off a bad odor when scraps are left in the disposal. It’s best to turn on the water for 10 to 15 seconds before and after usage.
- Liquid, soft and chopped food: Any liquid except grease should run through your garbage disposal without any hassle. Similarly, most soft foods should easily pass through your garbage disposal.
- Citrus fruit juice: Lemon or orange juice can reduce bad odors and give your disposal a fresh, lemony smell. Also, because citrus fruits contain acid, this can help break down thick and viscous matter inside the disposal. Simply add some measure of lemon or orange juice, leave for a few minutes and run it through the disposal with water.
- Baking soda: Using baking soda is also an effective way of cleaning your garbage disposal. A half-cup of baking soda mixed with vinegar can do the magic. Allow the mixture to bubble up and stay in the garbage disposal for a few minutes, then turn on your disposal and flush through using cold water.
- Disposal fluid or biodegradable dish soap: Grease is an enemy of garbage disposals, so using dish soap — it contains anti-grease chemicals — can help flush out grease from your garbage disposal, allowing it to function better and last longer.
Besides the above list, your garbage disposal usually can grind and flush out kitchen garbage like fish bones, cooked meat, fruit, ice cubes, food items, chopped food, vegetable scraps and so on.
What you should not put in your garbage disposal
You should take caution and refrain from putting certain things in your garbage disposal because they may harm it. Never treat your disposal as a trash can — because it’s not. In addition to eggshells, as mentioned earlier, there are other common things you shouldn’t put down a garbage disposal, including:
- Grease, oil and fat: These top the list of things you should never put in your garbage disposal as much as you can because they have a tendency to congeal and clog the drainpipe. In cases where it can’t be avoided, though, using cold water to flush the disposal will make them solidify so the disposal can break up the solids and send them down the drainpipe.
- Onion skins: Like eggshells, onions have thin and wet inner coatings that can easily evade the impeller and ultimately get wedged down the drain and cause blockage.
- Potato or banana peels: Banana or potato peels aren’t good for the disposal. They, like onion peels, also have a tendency to slip through the impeller and build up in the plumbing, causing clogs.
- Coffee grounds: These shouldn’t go down the garbage disposal because they don’t decompose easily and can cause harm to the impeller. Also, because they are quite oily, they can easily form a dense paste and create a clog in the drain. A better alternative is to dispose of coffee grounds in your compost bin.
- Hard foods: Hard food scraps, such as nuts, fruit pits, corn cobs and chicken bones, are tough ones for impellers to cut through, so they can cause impellers to jam or significantly damage them.
- Dry, expandable foods: Foods that tend to increase in size when in water, such as rice, pasta and oats, all have a tendency to turn into mush, which can gum up your disposal or clog your drain.
- Your hand: Never put your hands in your garbage disposal. Instead, if your disposal ever gets jammed, insert an offset wrench — which often comes with your disposal — into the flywheel and turn it clockwise. This should dislodge your disposal.
Signs your garbage disposal needs to be repaired or replaced
If you pay enough attention, most systems and appliances will usually show signs whenever they are in bad condition. Below are some signs you may see that show your garbage disposal needs to be repaired or replaced.
- Strange or unusual noises: It’s normal for your garbage disposal to make a sound when in use, even when it’s noise-insulated. However, if you notice your disposal is giving off an unusual noise, check to see if anything is blocking the unit. If you can’t find the cause, get a professional to check it out and advise you appropriately.
- Failure to turn on: If your garbage disposal doesn’t turn on, there is definitely an issue with your unit somewhere. The first step is to press the reset button and see if it comes on afterward. If the situation persists, check the power cable and the circuit breaker to ensure nothing is damaged. If none of this troubleshooting resolves the issue, your disposal needs to be checked by a professional.
- Water leakage: If your garbage disposal system leaks water, it might be time to replace the unit because it may not be worth having a plumber fix the issue.
- Frequent reset: Usually, you won’t use the reset button frequently, except when the disposal jams and you need to reset the breaker. However, if you need to use the reset button often before your disposal works, this is a sign that it needs repair or replacement.
- Disposal won’t grind: It could happen that your disposal motor hums, but it’s not grinding. A possible cause could be that something is stuck between the flywheel or the impellers and all you need to do is dislodge the jam. However, if there is no jam and the garbage disposal still won’t grind, you may need to call for repairs.
- Persisting bad smell: Because the disposal deals with garbage, it could be giving out a bad smell. Rinsing the disposal frequently and thoroughly should handle the issue. However, if the odor persists, there might be particles trapped inside your disposal, and you may require the help of a professional to unclog it.
Garbage disposal repairs are covered under a Cinch warranty
As a homeowner, home repair expenses can be overwhelming — coupled with the fact that built-in systems and major appliances can break down when you least expect. Fortunately, Cinch Home Services has you covered with a home warranty.
In fact, we offer a Built-in Systems protection plan that covers all components and parts of your garbage disposal, so you can continue to use it with the peace of mind that comes from knowing we’re here for you at any time, day or night. All of our home protection plans even come with guaranteed service, like a 180-day workmanship guarantee, rust and corrosion coverage, discounts on new appliances, and protection for unknown, pre-existing conditions.
Get the coverage you need at a price that works for you with Cinch. Request a free quote today!