What are the limits of the garbage disposer in my kitchen sink? When I was growing up, I got used to cleaning plates (throwing all solid food in the trash) before putting the dishes in the sink to be washed to avoid having solid food go down the drain. Even now that I have a disposer in the kitchen sink I still cling to my old habits and I cringe every time someone else dumps leftover food down the kitchen drain and turns on the disposer. Am I worrying about nothing?
The simple answer is yes and no.
Ideally you want to recycle as much of the table scraps and food prep scraps that you can. Putting them down the drain risks plugging the drain line or seizing the disposer.
Depending on the HP of the disposer that you have installed will depend upon just how much you can grind up and put down the drain.
Also depending on your plumbing system more is not better with older drain pipes. As these age build up and if the pipes are cast iron flaking beings as the cast rusts and ages. All of this makes the drain line more prone to plugging. The older the pipes the worse they can be.
In the case of older pipes, you must run more water after the grinding takes place just to assure that you flushed the gunk out of the drain line and into the sewer system. If not it will begin to collect in the very same spot in the pipe and begin to harden as the food partials sit in place. The results are a much harder time when it comes time to snake the drain because its not draining properly.
So the best thing is to limit just how much you put down the sink and through the disposal unit. And conserve both energy and water by putting the food waste into the garbage pail or compost pile outside of the home.
Since garbage disposers are available in many different models, it's best to always follow the manufacturers recommendations for your unit. You can usually look up your make and model on the companies web site, along with user tips for the disposer. In my experience, most companies may recommend grinding things like chicken bones, peach pits and coffee grounds. Things not recommended may include stringy material like corn husks and celery stalks. Also, run plenty of cold water (Not hot.) when grinding, and grinding up a half lemon once a month may help control odors.
Ed Del Grande, is a three-time Master Plumber, GBCI LEED green associate, and contractor. He was born and raised in a family-owned plumbing business. He holds three current Master licenses in pipefitting, fire protection, and plumbing. http://eddelgrande.com.