Kitchen Sink Drains and Garbage Disposals

One of the most important aspects of a home’s regular maintenance, that may be overlooked because it’s hidden in floors, walls and cabinetry, is your essential and often mysterious plumbing drain system. Out of sight, out of mind – as the old saying goes. Your residential home has a kitchen sink, a sink drain line, and possibly a garbage disposal. Some have original or older pipes such as cast iron or galvanized steel, and others have been replaced or built new with PVC piping, and some are a combination of two or more. While each type of piping is dissimilar in material, each with their positives and negatives in terms of durability and function, they all share one thing in common – they are all frequently used (sometimes neglected) and they all end up getting clogged at some point in time. We will get more in depth with the benefits and drawbacks of certain drain pipe materials in a future post… today we are focusing on your garbage disposal in conjunction with your drain system, and how to utilize your garbage disposal in the correct way so you can minimize untimely back-ups.

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is, “Is a garbage disposal a good thing or a not so good thing?”. I always tell my clients that if you do not use the garbage disposal like you use your trash can, and you know how to properly treat the garbage disposal, then it is definitely a great amenity for your kitchen. I tell all of my clients the same answer, and here are few of the do’s and don’ts of garbage disposal usage and maintenance.

DO: Use the disposal for disposing of most leftover food from your plates and other dishware. Use the disposal for most food scraps leftover from preparing meals.

DON’T: Expect the disposal to grind down the leftover bones from your favorite chicken wings. Try to avoid putting these other foods down the sink as well: eggshells, rice, fibrous vegetables like potatoes, potato peels and carrot peels, raw meat, corn husks and coffee grounds. Don’t dump large piles into the drain all at once, let the disposal work on a little bit at a time.

DO: Run the cool/cold water 30 seconds before, during disposal use and 30 seconds after your disposal is turned off. The cold temperature helps to keep any fats in the food congealed and solid inside the appliance during grinding, so the waste flows easier throughout the drain line and out to the city. It will put less stress on your unit over time.

DON’T: NEVER! Pour or dispose of leftover cooking oils in your drain. All oils solidify at different temperatures. Oils may be liquid when pouring down the drain, but they can solidify, and eventually create blockages and clog the disposal and drain lines. Let your oils cool down completely, and then dispose of those in the regular ol’ garbage. Or you can properly cool, strain and store for future use.

DO: Periodically use home cleaning remedies to help remove small blockages, food stuck to the disposal blades and to keep foul odors under control. Baking soda and vinegar, lemon peels and ice cubes.

DON’T: Use harsh drain cleaning products. These products are too chemically strong and corrosive in nature, and are not meant for kitchen sink drains, garbage disposals or dissolvement of food particles. 

Whether you have a garbage disposal unit or not, your kitchen sink drain line will eventually get clogged up from time to time. Clients also ask me if it’s a good idea to have their kitchen sink drain line snaked and cleaned out on a regular preventative maintenance schedule. I explain to my clients that a drain pipe does become very greasy and sludgy (even from dish and hand soaps), and that it’s a good idea to get them flushed and snaked before a clog occurs. This will also make it an easier and faster fix if your drain line does get a back-up in the future.

If you would like to schedule a kitchen sink drain line cleaning on preventative maintenance, or if you happen to currently have a slow draining or clogged kitchen sink drain line, please reach out to us today.

We look forward to hearing from you.


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