Water Trade Service plumbing and water installation in Mooresville, NC area

What Smelly Garbage Disposal Means

The Smelly Garbage Disposal is a major kitchen appliance. They are a great way to ensure you’re getting rid of the food you don’t need.

But did you know that, according to statistics, almost half of all garbage disposals in the United States are not properly maintained?

According to a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 43% of all garbage disposals are not cleaned and maintained as they should be.

Like any other appliance, garbage disposals can get smelly if they’re not cared for properly. 

In this article, a garbage disposal installation expert in Mooresville, North Carolina, will outline what a smelly garbage disposal means and offer tips on how to clean a smelly garbage disposal.

How Garbage Disposal Works?

Garbage disposals are a critical part of your home’s plumbing system. They allow you to dispose of food waste without having to throw it away in the garbage outside. But how do garbage disposals actually work?

Garbage disposals have a spinning blade at the bottom of the unit that shreds food waste into small pieces so it can be flushed through your pipes and into the sewer system. The blades are usually made from stainless steel or other metal, and they’re attached to a motor that powers them when you turn on your garbage disposal.

The exact mechanism of how your garbage disposal works depends on your model, but generally speaking, it involves three main components: a switch, an electric motor, and a container for catching water and food waste as the blades break it down. Here’s how it actually works:

  • Activation: When you turn on the garbage disposal unit using a switch or a button, an electric current is sent to the motor.
  • Motor: The motor powers the unit and drives a spinning plate or impeller located at the bottom of the grinding chamber. The motor is designed to be both powerful and able to withstand water exposure.
  • Grinding Chamber: The grinding chamber is a cylindrical compartment located beneath the kitchen sink. It is connected to the drainpipe and has an opening through which food waste enters. The grinding chamber is designed to contain and direct the waste to the shredder.
  • Shredder Ring and Impeller: The spinning plate or impeller inside the grinding chamber has small metal teeth or blades attached to it. As the motor rotates the impeller, the food waste is forced against the shredder ring, which is a stationary metal ring with equally spaced teeth.
  • Shredding Process: The impeller’s rotating blades gradually push the food waste against the shredder ring. The teeth of the shredder ring and the blades on the impeller work together to chop and grind the waste into small particles or a slurry.
  • Flushing: Once the food waste is sufficiently shredded, it is flushed out of the grinding chamber. The waste particles and water from the sink are propelled down the drainpipe and into the sewage system or septic tank.
  • Water Flow: It’s important to note that water needs to be running while the garbage disposal is in operation. The water helps carry the waste particles through the drainpipe and prevents clogs by aiding in flushing.
  • Disposal of Waste: The shredded food waste mixes with other wastewater in the sewer system or septic tank, where it undergoes further treatment and processing.

12 Causes of Smelly Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal smells bad, you may have one of three problems: accumulated grease and fat, a clogged or slow-draining disposal, or both. Here are a few causes of what’s going on with your smelly garbage disposal so that you can learn how to get rid of smelly garbage disposal.

Food Residue

When food is improperly disposed of, it can get stuck in the drain and begin to rot. This will cause a foul odor, which is especially strong if you have a septic tank.

Mold and Bacteria

If you keep your sink or drain blocked for long periods of time, mold and bacteria may grow on it. The same goes if you don’t regularly clean your sink or drain—the buildup from oils from your hands and food particles will attract these microorganisms.

Accumulated Grease And Fat 

Accumulated grease and fat from your kitchen sink is the number one cause of smelly garbage disposal. The grease and fat will build up in the drain, increasing the chances of clogs as well as causing bad smells. 

Clogged or Slow-Draining Disposal

Food waste can clog the drain of garbage disposal, which can cause it to drain slowly or not at all.

Lack of Cleaning

If you don’t clean your garbage disposal regularly, it gets clogged with food particles and grease. This will cause the drain to back up and create an unpleasant odor.

Old or Worn-Out Disposal

If your garbage disposal isn’t working properly, it can cause a foul smell in your kitchen. This is because your sink will be clogged with more food particles and grease than normal.

Fibrous Foods

Another cause for smelly garbage disposal is fibrous foods like celery or broccoli stems that have been placed into them too long after chopping them up for use in cooking or eating. These fibers will get stuck inside the drain hole at the bottom of your sink and build up over time, causing an unpleasant odor when you run water through it while waiting for dishes or food to cook in an adjacent pot or pan on top of its surface.

Decomposing Food

Certain foods, like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, can decompose quickly, generating strong and unpleasant smells.

Accumulated Hard Items

If you’ve been putting things like eggshells, bones, or even larger pieces of food at your disposal, they may have accumulated on the bottom of the unit. This can cause a buildup of grime that will give off an odor as it begins to decompose.

Failing Seals

If your garbage disposal has been leaking water into your cabinet below it, it’s likely that any moisture will be trapped underneath the unit and eventually develop mold or mildew, which will cause an unpleasant smell as well.

Sewer Gas

Sewer gas is the most common culprit when it comes to smelly garbage disposals. The gas can leak out of your pipes and come into contact with the disposal, causing the smell.

Improper Installation

If you’ve ever been around a stinky garbage disposal, there’s a good chance it was improperly installed. A garbage disposal should be properly seated and tightly secured to the sink drain pipe. If it isn’t, then unsavory odors can escape into your kitchen and cause all sorts of problems.

Tools & Materials You’ll Need to Clean Smelly Garbage Disposal

To clean a smelly garbage disposal, you will need a few tools and materials. Here’s a list of items that can be helpful for how to fix smelly garbage disposal tutorial:

  • A container for holding used water 
  • A brush for scrubbing your sink
  • Anti-bacterial cleaner (we recommend Clorox Disinfecting Wipes)
  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • A lemon (optional)
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Long-Handled Brush or Toothbrush
  • Vinegar
  • Plunger

How to Clean Smelly Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposals are great for getting rid of food scraps but can also be a source of unpleasant smells. If your garbage disposal is smelling up your kitchen, follow this smelly garbage disposal remedy:

Safety Precautions

Before you begin cleaning, always make sure that the power is disconnected from the disposal unit. This will prevent any unwanted injuries or electric shocks. You can also wear rubber gloves and eye protection to keep yourself safe while working on this project.

Remove Small Debris

The next step is to clean out any smaller bits of food that might have gone down into the drainpipe and remained there after rinsing out your garbage disposal in step one. You can use a bottle brush if you have one available—just make sure not to put anything plastic down there! If you don’t have such a brush, try using an old toothbrush instead—but remember not to use anything new. 

Baking Soda and Vinegar Mixture

The easiest way to clean a smelly garbage disposal is with a baking soda and vinegar. To make this mixture, you’ll need:

  • A cup of baking soda
  • 1 cup of white vinegar

Mix the vinegar and baking soda together until they form a paste, then pour the mixture down your garbage disposal. Use the drain stopper to stop up your sink so the mixture doesn’t run out. Let it sit for 20 minutes before turning on your garbage disposal again. This will help loosen any buildup in your pipes and clean out any bacteria that may have been causing your bad smell!

Use a Scrubber or Liquid Cleaner

Once you’ve run the baking soda and vinegar mixture, use a scrubber or liquid cleaner to clean out any food particles or other gunk that may still be stuck there. If you used something like lemon juice or lemon essential oil (or even orange essential oil), make sure you rinse it out really well before using this step! Pay attention to the walls, the rubber splash guard, and the blades. This will help remove any stubborn residue and food particles.

Ice and Salt

If you’re dealing with a mild odor, try this first: Fill up a basin with hot water, add a few tablespoons of salt, and drop in one or two ice cubes. Then turn on your garbage disposal and let it run until the ice melts. The hot water will help dissolve any food particles stuck there, while the salt helps break down any grease build-up on the blades.

Citrus Freshness

Add a cup of lemon juice or vinegar to a small pot with two cups of water—just enough so that you can dip your rubber stopper into it when it’s time for step three! Heat this mixture over medium heat until it boils, then turn off the heat and allow things to cool down before dipping your rubber stopper in there for about five minutes (or longer if necessary). This will help neutralize any remaining smells from step one as well as make sure there aren’t any harmful bacteria lurking around either!

Rinse with Hot Water

After completing the cleaning process, flush the garbage disposal with a generous amount of hot water. This will help remove any remaining residue and ensure thorough cleaning.

Regular Maintenance

Your garbage disposal is one of the most important appliances in your home, but it can also be one of the most neglected. If you don’t regularly clean and maintain your garbage disposal, it can start to smell like rotting food and attract pests. To prevent future odors, consider regularly maintaining your garbage disposal. Run cold water before, during, and after using the disposal to ensure proper flushing. Avoid disposing of hard or fibrous materials that can cause clogs or damage to the unit. Periodically get in touch with a professional garbage disposal plumber to clean the disposal and keep it fresh and odor-free.

What Not to Put in Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposals are a wonderful convenience for your home and kitchen. They allow you to keep your food scraps out of the landfill, and they make cleaning up after dinner easier than ever before. However, there are some things that should never go into your garbage disposal. To keep your disposal in good working order and avoid clogs, avoid placing these items in your sink’s disposal:

  • Grease, Oil, and Fat: These substances can solidify and cause clogs in both the disposal and the plumbing system.
  • Bones: Hard bones from meat, fish, or poultry are too tough for the disposal blades and can potentially damage them.
  • Fruit Pits and Seeds: Hard pits and seeds from fruits like peaches, avocados, or cherries can damage the blades or cause blockages.
  • Coffee Grounds: Coffee grounds can accumulate and form clumps that may clog the drain over time.
  • Pasta and Rice: These starchy foods can expand when exposed to water, leading to clogs in the drainpipes.
  • Fibrous Vegetables: Stringy or fibrous vegetables like celery, asparagus, or corn husks can get tangled in the disposal blades and cause blockages.
  • Eggshells: While small amounts of crushed eggshells may pass through the disposal, it’s generally best to avoid them as they can contribute to clogs and may not break down effectively.
  • Non-Food Items: Never put non-food items, such as plastic, glass, paper, or metal, into the garbage disposal because they can damage all blades and cause malfunctions.
  • Chemicals and Harsh Cleaners: Avoid pouring chemicals, bleach, or harsh cleaning agents down the disposal, as they can damage the unit and harm the environment.
  • Large Quantities of Food: It’s best to avoid overwhelming the garbage disposal with large amounts of food waste at once. Feed small amounts gradually to allow for effective grinding and flushing.

6 Garbage Disposal Maintenance Tips

So you’ve got a garbage disposal. It’s a bit of a lifesaver, but it can also be a major pain.

You need to keep it clean and free from debris, but you don’t want to spend your life scrubbing down the thing. Here are six tips for keeping your garbage disposal in tip-top shape:

1. Use Your Disposal Sparingly

2. Run Cold Water While You’re Using It

3. Avoid Garbage That’s Too Hard To Digest (Think Bones And Seeds)

4. Don’t Overload It With Too Much Food At Once

5. Don’t Put Greasy Foods Down There, Either

6. Run your garbage disposal regularly, especially after cooking large meals or preparing produce with lots of juice.

When to Call Professional Garbage Disposal Plumbers

When a garbage disposal isn’t working right, it can be an immensely frustrating issue to deal with. Not only do you have to put up with the noise of the disposal grinding away, but you also have to try to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it yourself.

Fortunately, if you are in Mooresville, North Carolina, and need a plumber for Garbage Disposal Installation in Mooresville, Wicker Trade Service Inc. is here for you! We can come out and get your disposal up and running again in no time.

At Wicker Trade Service Inc., we are committed to providing the best garbage disposal installation services in the Mooresville area. We have been servicing our customers for over 20 years and have built a reputation for being prompt and professional. Our technicians are fully trained to handle any type of garbage disposal installation, including standard units and high-end models.

The best thing? Our prices are always affordable, so you’ll never have to worry about breaking the bank when we come out to perform your garbage disposal installation service. Our team is available 24/7, so we’ll always be here for you, no matter when your garbage disposal breaks down!
Call our garbage disposal installation plumbers at (704) 340-4810 to learn more about our services!

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