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redhen4's avatar

Home: 14 years and 3 garbage disposals?

Asked by redhen4 (520points) January 15th, 2014

I did google and it said a disposal should last 10+ years. Mine do not. Bought this house in 1999. Have replaced disposals 2 times. Getting ready to replace another one. On average they are lasting me 6 years.

I had one handyman come repair this current one, but since he put CLR down it, it stinks all the time, and that was a year or so ago. Now it is leaking, or I should say again, it stopped leaking for a long time, now is starting up again. Don’t know why.

Is this normal? I am a single person so I don’t generate a ton of garbage, maybe I put down the wrong stuff (no potato peals, but did try the lemon trick for the smell-didn’t work).

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19 Answers

Aster's avatar

It doesn’t turn on ? Or it’s jamming up? Or motors burning out?

Coloma's avatar

Well… either it’s just bad luck or you’re overtaxing your disposals. Maybe stop stuffing your boyfriend/girlfriends dismembered body parts down there. lol

CWOTUS's avatar

Why do you suppose that you need a garbage disposal in any case? I haven’t had one for over ten years, and even when the house I lived in had one I seldom used it. I agree that there’s a certain amount of convenience to them – when they do work! – but I’ve never felt the lack.

Coloma's avatar

I have one now but rarely use it, my old house did not have one and I am in the habit of putting a plastic bag in the opposite sink and tossing my trimmings of whatever in it for disposal. I toss all organic materials out into the woods for the animals.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Are you buying good disposals, or cheap ones? Like everything else, you get what you pay for. Are you abusing it? Don’t put meat, potato peels, eggshells, down it. Actually I scrape my plates in the garbage, and only use the disposal while I rinse what is left off the plates. My rule of thumb is this, if I can put it in the garbage, I do. Some things you can’t, like a bowl of soup. leftover gravy, etc. Those go in the disposal.

redhen4's avatar

@CWOTUS , @COLOMA I can’t really afford one right now, so yes I’m considering going old school and use trash bags. Disposals are very convenient but not very affordable.

@Skaggfacemutt I thought eggshells helped clean it? Maybe I put too much grease down them, I don’t know.

The last one I bought was right around $100, so I don’t think they are the cheap ones.

I was hoping to hear that 5 or 6 years was a good long life for a disposal. Helps that it isn’t and I don’t have to spend the money right now, so I will do without and see how that goes. I know once I get used to it, a new disposal won’t matter so much.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

If it is “LEAKING” it is not the disposal but the plumber.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Grease isn’t a good thing to put down a disposal. When I had to replace a 15 year old disposal, it was small, not very big in diameter, and clogged with grease. It was in the house when I bought it, so was probably el-cheapo. I replaced it with a larger, fatter one. I moved before I could see the lifespan of the new one, but the one in my present house is now 9 years old and just fine.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Wait!!! Before you replace it, take a mirror and look underneath at the bottom. Right in the center there should be a socket head screw. An Allen wrench of the right size will fit in there. That enables you to turn the unit in case something got stuck in there or the motor froze up from disuse. The Allen key usually comes in the box with the disposal. You might see it on the shelf under the sink near the disposal. Or you might have one the the right size in your tool box. Try that first.
With the switch off,.... Let me say that again…. WITH THE SWITCH OFF, Stick the key in the hole and try turning the motor. Hopefully that will free it up and you’ll be good to go.

I try to never replace something unless it is burned to a crisp, exploded, or so worn you can see through it. A good rule to live by. ;-)

Cupcake's avatar

Please don’t put grease down your drain… disposal or not.

Here is a link with what not to put down your disposal.

Pandora's avatar

I read @Cupcake link. I don’t agree with everything on their list. It would almost eliminate everything to the point where you can’t throw anything down the disposal.
My list for things I have personally have known to clog a disposal are, grease, potato skins, seed pits, bone, and chicken skins or parts of chicken that is stingy and fatty raw, or red meat fat. I have thrown egg shells plenty of times. The secret to some sticky foods when throwing down the drain is to run it in really hot water before you send it down the drain. The hot water will keep it from sticking while it is being chopped up. I have thrown coffee and have never clogged it. But when I throw coffee down it, I will simply run it in hot water also. It will help with the smell.
You can also throw a lemon down it. Just don’t throw it with the skin.

Or you can throw bleach down the drain. It will help to sanitize and get rid of the smell. Vinegar is great for tenderizing any fat in the drain as well and getting rid of the smell. Just be sure to follow it with some hot water. Ever once in a while I will simply boil some water and let it pour down my disposal to clear out any gunk it may have build up. The fact that your disposal is smelling tells you that there is stuff stuck in the pipes or in the disposal that is rotting. Try the bleach first.
Don’t over use the bleach because it can wear away the rubber seals. Just try it once and quickly follow it with some boiled water.
Since you said it has been leaking, it is possible that one of the seals has worn away from using corrosive cleaners.
Disclaimer: I am not a plumber nor am I married to one. But I have had over 25 years experience dealing with different garbage disposal and have knowledge of how to break one down.

Pandora's avatar

@redhen4 Oh, one more thing. Do you have your dishwasher feeding into the same pipe as your garbage disposal? If you hardly use your dishwasher, you may want to run it at least once a week. Sometimes the smell coming through your disposal is from water sitting in the drain coming from the dishwasher. If that is the case, you can throw some bleach in your dishwasher and let it run one cycle. I use to have a tenant that never would use her dishwasher and the maintenance guy found it was because of the dishwasher. Her problem was resolved after doing one bleach treatment for about 2 weeks but then re-occured again. He told her to use it at least once a week or he would have to disconnect the dishwasher.

redhen4's avatar

@LuckyGuy Thanks, I will see if I can do as you suggested.

@Pandora Yes, my disposal is hooked into the dishwasher. I only know because the guy who installed one of the disposals didn’t hook it up right and there was a problem draining. I do use the dish washer once a week, occasionally twice a week, but always once a week. And I will try bleach. I’ve put vinegar or vinegar and baking soda down it, no luck.

When I run the disposal I run water, and run it still for a little longer (I read that too about running water after turning the disposal off). Don’t know why it leaks sometimes and not others. I am just thankful that it doesn’ t leak when the dishwasher runs.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Whoa, grease and eggshells is like the perfect storm. Clean it using ice cubes

Coloma's avatar

Never put GEESE down your disposal. lol

LuckyGuy's avatar

I never pour grease down the drain. I put bird seed in a rectangular tofu container and pour the grease over it to make a dandy suet cake. the birds love it and the drain stays clean. Sometimes I will pour the grease on newspaper and throw it in my wood burning stove to make heat.

redhen4's avatar

@LuckyGuy what a great idea! I don’t have any trees in my back yard and would be concerned if I put it anywhere lower within reach of the dogs, or that it would crumble and fall within reach of the dogs and they would eat it too. And I’ve had way to many vet bills recently to do something that will make them sick.

I do not always put grease down it, I use paper towels too. Especially with bacon. But hamburger grease I always rinsed off with hot water. Guess I was wrong thinking it would not stick if I used hot water! Duh?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I live in a cold climate. From Dec to the end of Feb the temp for most days is below freezing. the suet cakes I make stay nice and sold. I purchase suet cages that I hang from the trees and fill them with my home-made stuff. They work great.
Fat and grease are too valuable to go down the drain.

Coloma's avatar

Cheap peanut butter mixed with cornmeal makes a great suet that lasts and lasts and doesn’t go rancid. You can pack the dough, not too sticky, not too crumbly, into pcones or drill out a little log with one inch holes and hang it from a tree. Many birds will flock to the peanut butter log. :-)

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