By Terry Leamon, My Maricopa Plumber

A few common things can cause backed-up drains. Here’s 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. In general, 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 putting down your garbage disposal.

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

6. Eggshells. If 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 impellers, that are blunt, which 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 can build up overtime and turn to paste, clogging parts; for example, potatoes.

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 would seem to go down the drain easily, but they congeal and can cause major blockages.

Never treat your garbage disposal like a garbage can and dump food or nonfood items. It will slowly damage and shorten the life of your garbage disposal. 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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