Plumber in Phoenix garbage disposal repairOkay.  We’ve all heard or read the Do’s and Don’ts of garbage disposals dozens of times (hundreds, if you’re in the plumbing industry!).

But, apparently, some people still aren’t getting it – you can’t put anything and everything down the garbage disposal! 

Check out these amusing (and true) anecdotes Tony told me.  By the way, names are being withheld to protect Tony – his friends may not find the telling of their stories quite as funny as I do!

First incident: Tony got a call from a friend asking him to come clear a stoppage caused by a clogged disposal.  When he asked his friend what she had put down the disposal, she said, “nothing”.  Tony, being of a suspicious nature, or maybe just having lots of experience with stopped up garbage disposals (they rarely stop up for no reason, people!  Meaning, they don’t jam themselves….invariably, somebody put something down the disposal to jam it) asked again, “No, really, what did you put down the disposal that might have jammed it?”  When the answer was once again, “nothing” he let it go, but proceeded to clear a fibrous, twisted mess of corn husks away from the blades.  Nothing, huh?

First garbage disposal DON’T:   Don’t put cornhusks in the disposal!  There isn’t a garbage disposal anywhere on the market that can chop up and dispose of tough, stringy corn husks.  And, if you mistakenly do put something like husks in the disposal (other things, like celery, also come to mind) don’t bother trying to lie to the plumber.  There is no way in h***l you’ll get by with this one.  If you try, the evidence will expose you!

Second incident:  Tony got a call from (another) friend – this time late at night – always the time a plumber wants to get this kind of call! – who had put pasta (cooked spaghetti) down her disposal.  Now, it’s not a good idea to put cooked pasta down your disposal.  Think about it…cooked pasta’s kind of gooey.  And, it gets tough and tends to coagulate as it cools.  Is it realistic to think the disposal blades can chop that up well?  But, unlike cornhusks (which will NEVER, EVER go down the disposal!), pasta doesn’t always cause a garbage disposal stoppage.  If you feed the pasta in somewhat slowly, while running lots of water, you may not have a problem.

In this case, however, this friend didn’t feed the spaghetti in slowly.  No, she dumped the whole enchilada (figuratively speaking) into the disposal at once.  And, she didn’t run lots of water down the disposal.  Actually, she didn’t run any water at all down the disposal.  In fact, she didn’t even turn the disposal on!  Really?!

So, we have a large amount of sticky, gooey cooked pasta dumped in one large messy clump into the disposal with no attempt to chop it or flush it.  It’s just sitting there coagulating (remember, cooked pasta toughens and sticks together as it cools).  So what’s the logical thing to do next?  Turn on the dishwasher, right?  Okay, you get the picture.  The water from the dishwasher manages to dislodge the sticky clump of pasta as far as the p-trap, where it takes up residence and clogs both the p-trap and the drain arm going into the wall.

In short order, the sink is full and overflowing.  Water is running everywhere.  In a panic, she calls Tony, but not before dumping a gallon of liquid drain cleaner down the drain (which doesn’t work, by the way.  Don’t waste your money.)  After calming her down some, Tony gets her to turn the dishwasher off (yes, the dishwasher has been running all this time, continuing to pump water into the backed up sink, which continues to overflow, so there’s a pretty good flood going by now).  Too late, though, because by now the dishwasher has run long enough to be filled with water so when it shuts off, the water, which, you’ll remember, can’t go down the drain, can do nothing but roll out of the dishwasher and across the kitchen floor, adding to the flood.

It took Tony a couple of hours to take apart the drain pipe, extricate the goo from the trap and the pipes and put things back together.  All the while with eyes stinging and lungs coughing because he was breathing caustic fumes from the liquid drain cleaner.  (Every plumber in the world begs you not to put toxic chemicals down a clogged drain and then call them to come in and work on it!)

But, all’s well that ends well.  The drain was cleared, the mess got cleaned up and we have another take-away lesson:

Second garbage disposal DON’T:  Don’t put sticky cooked pasta down the disposal.  Or, if you do, feed it in slowly, run lots of water, and for heaven’s sake, RUN THE DISPOSAL before turning on the dishwasher.

For more tips about what you can, and can’t, put down your garbage disposal, see this previous post:

Questions about garbage disposal DO’s and DON’TS?  Give us a call.  Tony is always available to answer your questions – he’s become something of an expert on the subject of clogged disposals.

P.S.  Tony didn’t even charge her for this.  Now that’s a good friend!

Stevens Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning
(602) 273-7473