Modern homes are full of appliances that make the lives of their occupants easier. Among them, there’s one that often goes unheralded. Built-in garbage disposal units make it simple for homeowners to get rid of food waste without allowing it to build up in their kitchen garbage can. That not only saves them trips to take the garbage out but prevents any unpleasant odors from waste left to rot in the trash. However, some homeowners believe that you can throw just about anything into a garbage disposal. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Many things that seem reasonable to put in your garbage disposal are actually things you should never put into a garbage disposal. Doing so can damage not only the garbage disposal itself but could have more serious repercussions that could potentially impact the plumbing system of your entire home and can lead to many more repairs beyond just a garbage disposal repair. To avoid running into that type of scenario, here are eight types of items that you should never attempt to dispose of via your garbage disposal.

1. Coffee Grounds

Although it may seem only natural to throw coffee grounds into your garbage disposal while you’re cleaning out your coffee machine, it’s actually not a good idea. Coffee grounds absorb water and then stick together when they become wet. Those clumps can easily get form into larger clumps inside your garbage disposal, where the additional water can cause them to expand and could possibly become a blockage in your kitchen sink’s drain.

2. Eggshells

Another common food waste item you shouldn’t put into your garbage disposal is eggshells. Even though plenty of people believe that eggshells help to keep the blades in their garbage disposal sharp, they’re mistaken. First of all, garbage disposals don’t have blades. They rely on centrifugal force to force food waste up against a grinding ring, so there’s nothing to sharpen. Second, eggshells often contain a thin membrane inside them that can get wrapped up in the moving parts of your garbage disposal. If that happens, it’ll put an extra load on the garbage disposal’s motor, possibly leading to a premature failure.

3. Pasta

It may not be the first thing you think of, but you should never put pasta into your garbage disposal. There are three excellent reasons for that. The first is that pasta’s relatively sticky. That means it can stick to the insides of your drain pipes and eventually clog them. Second, pasta swells up when it absorbs water, which further increases the likelihood of a clog. It’s also often thin enough to escape getting ground down by the garbage disposal, which makes it possible for it to end up in your pipes whole.

4. Bones

Another thing you should never put into your garbage disposal are bones of any kind. Even if this seems like an easy way to clean up after certain meals, it’s all but guaranteed to damage your garbage disposal. Bones are far too hard to break down inside a standard garbage disposal unit. Instead, they ricochet around inside, possibly damaging the impeller.

5. Oatmeal

If you’ve ever tried to clean a bowl that’s had cooked oatmeal in it, you already know how difficult that can be. It is sticky, expands in water, and can turn into a hardened paste when it dries. That’s exactly what oatmeal can do inside your drain pipes if you put any into your garbage disposal.

6. Corn Husks or Fibrous Vegetables

Even if it might seem like anything you can tear with your bare hands would be no match for your garbage disposal, that’s not always the case. A great example of something that seem like they would be easy for your disposal to break down is corn husks. Corn husks are tougher than you think, and the silky threads that come with them can clog your garbage disposal or damage its motor quite easily. The same thing goes for any fibrous vegetables. They often have sticky strands that go straight through your garbage disposal and into your drain. There, they’ll act like a magnet, catching other food waste and potentially turning into a formidable drain clog.

7. Potato Peels

Many of the items on this list are problematic because they might evade your garbage disposal and lodge in your drain. Another item that poses that exact risk is potato peels. They’re thin enough to slip out of your garbage disposal whole and are sticky enough to stay in your drain pipes. This can be especially problematic due to how frequently people often consume potatoes. They’re also one of those food waste items people tend to have large quantities of all at once.

8. Shells

Finally, you should never put shells of any kind into your garbage disposal. The shells of clams and other mollusks are too hard for your garbage disposal to break down, much like bones. Similar to how bones can potentially damage your garbage disposal, they’ll likely damage your garbage disposal’s impeller, and you’ll face the unenviable task of getting them back out by hand. Even softer shells like shrimp shells that may not cause direct damage to the impeller of your disposal the way harder shells do will frequently get stuck on your drain pipes, which could potentially lead to a clog over time. Any way you look at it, you should always throw shells away and never put them into your garbage disposal.

Trust the Garbage Disposal Experts

Here at Cal’s Plumbing, garbage disposals are our business. Our team of expert plumbers understands these convenient household appliances inside and out, and they’ve seen nearly every type of problem a homeowner can encounter through every day use. We wouldn’t be telling you to avoid putting the items on the list above into your garbage disposal if we hadn’t seen them cause the very problems we describe.

If you do have a problem with your garbage disposal, though, you can always count on us. Cal’s Plumbing has been serving the residents of Tucson and the surrounding areas since 1948. We have been providing excellent service for three generations and we’re still offering the best comprehensive plumbing services in the area, including water heater installation and repair, water treatment system installations, and more! We’re confident that you won’t find a better plumbing service here in the Tucson area that provides expert, friendly service the way that we can.

So, if you’re having a garbage disposal problem, or any other kind of plumbing issue, contact Cal’s Plumbing today.

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