Essex Maintenance Tips and Tricks

How to Prevent Garbage Disposal and Kitchen Sink Clogs



Essex Maintenance Tips and Tricks

If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen, you already know it’s a useful appliance that makes household duties less demanding. But if not operated or maintained properly, a garbage disposal can easily break down, block and clog your kitchen sink drain, or even cause a lengthy list of plumbing issues.

Most garbage disposal troubles are avoidable, and maintenance is easy. Treat your garbage disposal well, and it will treat you well in return. We will share several actions you should take and mistakes you should avoid to keep your garbage disposal working smoothly for many years!


Garbage Disposal Best Practices from an Essex Apartment Homes Expert:

  • Keep your garbage disposal clean. Pour a little dish soap inside and let the garbage disposal run for a minute or so with some cold water after washing dishes.
  • Run your garbage disposal regularly. Frequent use prevents rust and corrosion, assures that all parts stay moving, and prevents obstructions from accumulating.
  • Grind food waste with a strong flow of cold water. Why run cold water? Cold water will solidify grease and oils so the blades can chop them up before reaching the trap.
  • Make sure any food debris is in small pieces and put them into the garbage disposal one at a time instead of trying to shove a large amount in at once.
Unclog your sink

Things to Avoid Putting in Your Garbage Disposal

With a few exceptions, a good general rule is to not put anything in the garbage disposal that is non-biodegradable food. A garbage disposal is designed for food scraps only, and non-food items can damage both the blades and the motor. When in doubt, throw it out!

  • Don’t grind glass, plastic, metal, or paper.
  • Don’t pour cooking grease, oil, or fat into your garbage disposal or drain. Grease will slowly build up and impede your garbage disposal’s grinding ability and clog sink drains and the plumbing system.
  • Don’t use hot water when grinding food waste. Hot water will cause grease to liquefy and accumulate, causing clogged drains.
  • Don’t put extremely fibrous materials like corn husks, celery stalks, onion skins, and artichokes. While biodegradable, these fibers can tangle and jam the garbage disposal motor and block drains.
  • Don’t put expandable foods in your garbage disposal. Foods like pasta and rice expand when you add water, which will do the same in your pipes and garbage disposal and clog kitchen sinks.
  • Avoid putting coffee grounds in the garbage disposal. They can accumulate in drains and pipes and cause a blockage.
Don't use these products for your sink

Cleaning Products to Use

Borax is a natural sink cleaner and sanitizer that effectively works on odor-causing mold and mildew that accumulates in garbage disposals. You can find more information on natural cleaning products on our blog. Don’t use harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners. They can damage garbage disposal blades and pipes, causing more plumbing problems.

Borax and water treatment

Troubleshooting Minor Issues with Your Garbage Disposal

If nothing happens when you flip the switch, there could be a power outage. Try resetting the GFCI outlet. Resetting the GFCI can usually be located along the wall above the kitchen counters. If it’s tripped, the RESET button will stick up. Unplug any devices or appliances plugged into the GFI or nearby outlets, and then you can reset it by pushing the RESET button. If the disposal isn’t responding, there could be a larger issue, and you should submit a maintenance service request.

Electrical outlet

There’s a second reset button located at the bottom of the garbage disposal unit itself. To reset this, ensure the disposal switch is off, gently press the red button to reset the disposal, turn the faucet on, use cold water, and turn on the disposal. If the garbage disposal reset button will not stay in, or if you must repeatedly reset the overload protector, the disposal may require service or replacement.

Underside of disposal view

Important Safety Information

These are general maintenance tips and simple remedies for minor problems. If you try these solutions and they don’t work, or if your problem persists, please call a maintenance professional. If you feel unsafe or unqualified at any time, please get in touch with your community management team or maintenance professionals for assistance.

If you want additional home maintenance tips for your apartment, watch our other “How-to” maintenance videos.


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