A few everyday things can cause backed-up drains. Here are a few tips on stuff that you should NEVER put down your garbage disposal:

1. Coffee grounds. When finishing the morning coffee and cleaning the filter out — STOP! — do not pour the grounds down your garbage disposal. Although they seem finely milled, they are dense and paste-like and will end up in a pile of gunk in your sediment trap.

2. Pasta, rice, and bread. All these starches absorb water and expand. Keep out of the disposal, but don’t stress if a little amount goes down the drain. Run the cold water for 30 seconds to flush your pipes before those foods can expand.

3. Animal bones. Garbage disposals are not meant to grind up hard items. Over time, bones will gradually ruin the appliance.

4. Pits and seeds, nuts and shells. Similar to bones, these food items are hard and can damage your disposal. General rule: if something can’t be cut with a knife, it probably isn’t safe to put down your garbage disposal.

5. Onions. These may go down your drain easily but can get caught in the trap, acting as a net, catching things before they go down your drain.

6. Eggshells. Suppose you’ve heard that eggshells sharpen the blades of the garbage disposal. WRONG! That is a popular misconception. Garbage disposals don’t have blades. They have blunt impellers that grind foods down, not chop them up. Eggshells also have membranes that can get caught around the grinders and cause problems over time.

7. Fruits and starchy vegetables. Some have fibrous strands that can get stuck and tangled around the grinder. Starches, such as potatoes, can build up over time and turn to paste, clogging parts.

8. Grease, oil and fat. Again, these go down easily but become a big factor when a kitchen drain has to be cleared. In liquid form, oil and fats seem to go down the drain quickly, but they thicken and can cause significant blockages.

It is not a garbage can.

Never treat your garbage disposal like a garbage can and dump food or nonfood items. Doing so will slowly damage and shorten its life. It can also lead to leaks and water damage. Keeping these things out of your garbage disposal will save you money and headaches under the sink.


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