TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- It can be a kitchen nightmare: a clogged sink. In this Angie's List report, how to avoid those dreaded clogs by properly using and maintaining your garbage disposal.
Most of us use our kitchen sink every day, but it's easy to get a clog if the garbage disposal isn't used the right way. Always make sure you run cold water at least 10 seconds before you start placing food down the drain a little bit at a time.
"You're grinding food and trying to float that food through the pipes, so the key is water," said professional plumber Russ Graves.
You also need to keep a careful eye on what you put into your disposal. Most of us know you shouldn't put bones or grease down the disposal but there are some other foods you might not realize could be problematic.
"You should also avoid things that absorb water, like rice and pasta, coffee grounds, even egg shells. They can all do damage to your garbage disposal," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
And don't forget to use your disposal every day. Letting it sit idle for several days can actually shorten its lifespan.
"Even if you're not using your garbage disposal regularly, you should still be maintaining it. You should run it at least once a day to avoid grime build up that could lead to corrosion in your garbage disposal," said Hicks.
Grinding ice cubes or orange peels every month or so will also help extend the life of your disposal. A base model should last about 5 to 7 years. A higher-end unit costs about $300 and will run quieter and more efficiently, and could last you 10 to 20 years.
"They not only grind twice, they have a feature that reverses the spin, so if it jams, it automatically… you shut it off and when you turn it back on, it spins the other way and it will take care of a lot of the troubles by itself," said Graves.
If you do end up with a clogged kitchen sink, you can rent equipment to try to remove the debris, but you need to be careful not to damage the pipes.
Remember you can catch the latest Angie's List report every Tuesday morning on WTXL Sunrise.