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Garbage Disposal 101: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

garbage disposal installation charleston

It’s a scene all too familiar to many homeowners: a malfunctioning garbage disposal turning an ordinary day into a logistical headache. The guilty feeling of realizing it might have been a simple mistake that caused the mess.

A rush online to find quick fixes, leading many to frantically type “garbage disposal installation in Charleston“. But imagine a world where you’re equipped with the knowledge to prevent these disasters. Ready? Let’s dive in.

1. Overloading the Disposal

The Mistake: The desire to clear the sink quickly can lead us to shove everything into the disposal without a second thought. This can jam the blades, wear out the motor, and significantly reduce its lifespan.

The Solution: Work in batches. Let the disposal clear one set of waste before introducing another.

Extra Tip: If your disposal seems overworked, give it a break for a few hours before using again.

2. Grinding Inappropriate Items

The Mistake: The disposal is not a trash can. Grinding things like corn husks, celery, or even bones can lead to clogs and broken blades.

The Solution: Keep a list of disposal-friendly items near the sink as a reminder for all family members.

Extra Tip: Post a mini list on the fridge or near the sink for easy referencing.

3. Neglecting Routine Maintenance

The Mistake: A “set it and forget it” mindset can leave your disposal in poor shape.

The Solution: Regularly clean the disposal with cold water and mild detergent.

Extra Tip: Baking soda and vinegar mixed together make an effective cleaner that’s gentle on your disposal.

4. Running the Disposal Without Water

The Mistake: Disposals need water to function properly. Running it dry can lead to severe damages.

The Solution: Always keep the tap running when the disposal is on. Use cold water to solidify any fats or grease.

Extra Tip: If you’ve accidentally run it without water, let it cool for a few minutes before restarting.

5. Ignoring Minor Issues

The Mistake: Overlooking small issues can lead to bigger, costlier problems down the line. 

The Solution: Always address sounds, clogs, or any irregularities immediately.

Extra Tip: Have a trusted plumber’s number on speed dial. Regular check-ups can prevent major issues.

6. Using Harsh Chemicals

The Mistake: Reaching for strong chemicals to clear out clogs might seem like a good idea, but they can corrode and damage your disposal.

The Solution: Opt for natural cleaners, or better yet, prevent clogs by careful usage.

Extra Tip: Boiling water poured down the sink can help clear minor clogs.

7. Forgetting to Clean the Disposal

The Mistake: Assuming the disposal self-cleans as it grinds is a common misconception. 

The Solution: Regular cleaning with mild cleaners can prevent buildup and bad odors. Set reminders in your calendar that will alert you on your phone when it’s time for a cleanup. 

Extra Tip: Grinding lemon or orange peels can naturally deodorize your disposal.

8. Pushing Food Down with Utensils

The Mistake: Using a fork or spoon to force food down the disposal. This could potentially lead to utensils getting stuck or the blades getting damaged.

The Solution: Always use a brush or even your hands (when the disposal is off!) to move food closer to the drain.

Extra Tip: If you ever accidentally drop a utensil inside, turn off the disposal and use tongs or pliers to retrieve it. Never put your hand inside without ensuring the unit is off.

9. Not Replacing the Blades

The Mistake: Assuming the blades will last as long as the disposal. Over time, blades become dull and less efficient.

The Solution: Check blade sharpness regularly and replace when necessary to ensure optimal functionality.

Extra Tip: If you notice that your disposal takes longer to grind or if there are larger food remnants than usual, it might be time to check the blades.

10. Not Using a Disposal Cleaner

The Mistake: Thinking regular soap and water are enough for cleaning. Over time, sludge can build up and lead to blockages.

The Solution: Invest in a quality garbage disposal cleaner, available at most hardware stores. Use it monthly or as directed.

Extra Tip: For a DIY cleaning solution, grind a tray of ice cubes made from half vinegar and half water. This not only sharpens the blades but also helps clean the walls of the disposal.


While garbage disposals offer immense convenience, they demand respect and care. The difference between a well-functioning unit and frantic searches for “garbage disposal installation in Charleston” often lies in understanding and avoiding common pitfalls.

Issues with your disposal or need a new garbage disposal installation in Charleston? When challenges do arise, remember, Rooter-Man SC is here for you. Nelson Huggins and his team provide 24/7 support, ensuring Charleston homes run smoothly.

Get in touch with Rooter-Man SC today.

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