Garbage Disposals – What’s the Big Deal?
Some 50% of United States homes currently have a garbage disposal under their sink. It is used to grind up, and dispose of, food scraps and other bio waste. Believe it or not, the use of these small machines has been hotly contested – and even banned – in many cities across the country.
According to online sources, the garbage disposal was invented by John Hammes in 1927 and became widely available (under the moniker InSinkErator) by 1940. Soon after, the debate began: garbage disposals good or garbage disposals bad?
The verdict has been far from clear. While many places in the United States mandate the use of garbage disposals, many other places have made them illegal. In fact, New York City had a ban on garbage disposals up until 1997. Their concern was that the food waste would damage the city’s sewer system.
Proponents of the garbage disposal illustrate its necessity by outlining what happens to food scraps that are disposed of in the garbage can. Rotting food can have negative effects on public health and the environment if disposed of by conventional means. If food scraps are burned in waste-to-energy facilities, they often consume more energy than they generate. Buried in landfills, food scraps decompose and create methane gas – a well-known greenhouse gas.
On the other hand, a garbage disposal reduces food scraps to pieces typically no larger than 2 millimeters. This resultant material (which averages 70% water anyway) is regarded as water and transported to water treatment plants (using existing infrastructure) where the processing of organic solids is very effective. Some of these facilities even capture methane for energy production.
So, depending on your local ordinances, you may have a garbage disposal or you may not. If you’re fortunate enough to be in the former category, there are some things to remember about making the most of this useful tool.
- Keep your garbage disposal clean by pouring a small amount of dish soap down the drain and letting the disposal run for a minute while the cold water runs.
- Run your garbage disposal regularly to prevent rust, corrosion, and obstructions from accumulating.
- Grind food waste with a strong flow of cold water to help grease and oils solidify so that they can be chopped up before reaching the trap in your drain.
- Grind certain hard materials such as small chicken and fish bones, egg shells, small fruit pits, etc. to provide a scouring action inside the grind chamber to clean the interior walls.
- Grind peels from citrus fruits such as lemons or oranges to freshen up drain smells.
- Cut large items into smaller pieces and dispose of them one at a time rather than all at once.
By performing these simple maintenance tasks on your garbage disposal throughout the year, you will continue to enjoy its safe and effective use. If you encounter issues with your garbage disposal, it’s always a good idea to call a plumbing contractor who can remedy the situation quickly and efficiently with a minimum of down time.
Crystal Lake Plumber is proud to offer garbage disposal installation and maintenance along with sump pumps, plumbing systems, hot water systems, pipe repair, sewer and drain repair, and much more to the residents of Northern Cook County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, and surrounding areas.