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Care & Feeding of Garbage Disposals

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by Jim Neidner

Jim Neidner is a national award-winning
builder/remodeler and radio home host.


Q) I am a Property Manager in San Diego California and I Manage a 380 unit apartment community. My question is what should and what more importantly, should not be put down a garbage disposal? This building was built in the 50's and we seem to have a problem with garbage disposals backing up into tubs, etc. So, we want to send out a letter to the residents asking them to pay close attention to what is being put down the disposal. Thank you!
JoAnne Sparks - The KOR Group

A) My hat goes off to you working with 380 tenants. Disposals always seem to stop-up at the worst time, don't they?

If your apartment unit disposals are 1/3 horse power, in the future when you have to replace one change it to a 1/2 horse power disposal. This will also help.

Things to watch out for: Fiberous food, like celery, nut shells, and the like can stop up the units. Paper, dog hair, pouring cooking grease down the disposal line can also stop them up. One of the biggest mistake many make when using a disposal, they don't allow water to run long enough to flush the lines thoroughly. Ask your tenants after they finish running the disposal to allow about 20 seconds longer running water into the disposal. This will help push the food through the lines better.

If this does not help you might want to check your sewer lines with a camera inspection to make sure none of the pipes are broken or have roots growing inside the lines. A project this old, I would bet some of your lines are cracked in the foundation and roots could be inside the lines. Using the in-line camera would answer a lot of questions for you. Also keep in mind, leaking plumbing pipes can cause foundation problems so I would sure suggest to your investor/owners of the project to have the lines tested to be on the safe side. Foundation problems are a lot more expensive than calling a plumber for stopped up disposals. So if this continues after you try some of these suggestions, run a camera in your lines to find the real problem. Hope this helps.

Good luck, Jim Neidner

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