When you were a kid did you hear a lot of “old wives’ tales” that were passed down through generations? Some call them “old wise tales.” Whatever we prefer to call them, many were true. One of the most common was, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples of course are very healthy to eat.
Many of the “old wives’ tales” were not true. They were passed on through generations and told so many times they seemed true. You’ve probably heard various tales, like parents warning that sitting too close to the TV will damage your eyesight? Or, don’t go outside with wet hair because you will catch a cold? Or, does food with mayonnaise spoil faster? Or, does chocolate cause acne? Or, does shaving cause hair to grow thicker? Or, don’t eat before swimming? Or, do toads cause warts?
Some of the tales we hear today also seem true, but often there is more to the story. These tales are often misconceptions that need to be dispelled. A great example is, that food can never be put down in the garbage disposal because it will plug up the kitchen drain piping. The reality is all plumbing systems that are designed and installed properly will work just fine with a quality garbage disposal under normal conditions.
Let’s start with some important basics. Most kitchen drain piping blockages are caused by poor-quality garbage disposals that do not properly grind up food particles. Those food particles pass too quickly through the garbage disposal and can block piping that is improperly installed or in poor shape.
If you want to avoid blocked kitchen drain piping an important question is how much risk are you willing to take? The risk of blockages goes down as the quality of the garbage disposal goes up. It’s the Good, Better, and Best theory of you getting what you pay for. Cost should be the last concern for those wanting to avoid risks.
So, what’s one of the best disposals? The InSinkErator Evolution Excel has proven to be the best overall. It’s ultra-quiet and has a MultiGrind technology to finely grind food with three grinding stages. The 1-horsepower Dura-Drive induction motor automatically reverses after each operation. The 40 oz. stainless steel grind chamber and blades stay cleaner.
Warranties for Good, Better, and Best InSinkErator disposals installed by John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical are from four to ten years according to the quality of the disposal.
The InSinkErator Evolution Excel is capable of cutting rice in half and of course fine grinding all food. It’s important to run plenty of water to wash finely ground food particles while the disposal is running. The final discharge is then slightly thicker than water and easily passes through plumbing pipes that are pitched properly and in good shape. I run water for another 10 seconds after the grinding process because our kitchen drain line is fairly short before dumping it into the larger sewer main pipe.
The worst-case scenario is older galvanized or cast-iron piping that is often rougher inside as it ages. These systems can have a buildup of fairly solid rust. They need to be called out with a full-sized cutting head rather than using caustic chemicals that can damage the pipe. If this piping cannot be cleaned or has defects, it should be replaced with PVC piping that has a smoother wall with no obstructions and is self-scouring.
One good environmentally friendly drain cleaning chemical is Total C. It’s a great way to reduce grease and food buildup in pipes. Total C gives disposals a clean citrus smell.
Even with the best garbage disposal, it’s still important to reduce the amount of food that is put in a garbage disposal. That’s the most environmentally friendly solution. However, why be afraid to rinse food off of plates that can be properly disposed of rather than letting it spoil in a garbage can?
Forty-five years of plumbing experience tells me these basic plumbing principles work. An example is Deb and I lived in a home we built 34 years ago that has never had kitchen drain issues. I recently checked the 2” kitchen drain line by tapping on it with my wedding ring hand. The sound is still clear. Yes, we had a good quality garbage disposal and the piping was installed to code.
The next time a “discussion” takes place about why you can’t put food down a garbage disposal, grab this article and let the facts tell the rest of the story.