Wondering what not to put in your garbage disposal? Most folks preparing a feast this holiday have other things on their mind.

Thanksgiving is time for many sink backups due to items that should NOT be put down garbage disposals

It’s stressful enough to get your house spiffed up for guests. Then you’re on to food shopping and lugging that huge turkey home. 

Next, you’re preparing the vittles. This is the time to think about plumbing. Yep, think about it now to help prevent a disaster when your guests arrive.

Your garbage disposal will likely get more of a workout today than any other day of the year. So let’s dive into what NOT to be feeding it. 

Do NOT Put in Your Garbage Disposal to Avoid Sink Backup

  • Potatoes or Potato Peelings (sweet potatoes or regular potatoes)
  • Oil of any kind, butter, margarine
  • Bones
  • Banana Peelings
  • Celery, Artichokes, Corn husks, Onion Skins or other fibrous foods
  • Egg Shells
  • Fruit Pits
  • Pasta
  • Coffee Grounds
Do put these down garbage disposal or you clog kitchen sink
Do not put these items down your garbage disposal. You could clog your kitchen sink and even backup all plumbing.

Yes, some of these items may make it down your garbage disposal fine — at first. In small bits, you may not have a problem at all. 

But let’s get real. You’ll likely be frazzled with the prep work, looking at the clock, wondering if the mashed potatoes will be pasty enough to apply wallpaper and if you have enough wine so no one will notice.  Best to keep it simple and  just say “NO” to putting even “small bits” of these items down your garbage disposal. 

A Safety Recall on Certain Brands of Garbage Disposals

While garbage disposals are largely safe to use, currently certain brands are being recalled. The US Product Safety Commission has ordered a safety recall on certain brands of Moen and Anaheim garbage disposals. “A metal component inside the disposal can break off and come out of the disposal during use, posing an impact hazard.” So check here to see if your garbage disposal is on the list.

What You Put in Your Garbage Disposal Can Backup Kitchen Sink

The real problem isn’t so much that the garbage disposal may break down. It’s that your kitchen sink and other plumbing may back up.

That’s because the garbage disposal, naturally, feeds into the rest of your plumbing. When those bits and pieces you push down into your garbage disposal are ground up, they along with drainage from your sink and dishwasher, all need to make it through your home’s main plumbing and into your sewer line. The problem comes when they can’t make it all the way through the line.

Why These Items Can Back Up Kitchen Sink

When you look at the list above, it’s understandable why they may not all make it through the plumbing pipes. Potatoes, after all, are primarily starch. With enough starch and just a little water (we are living in water conservation times), you get paste. That paste lays somewhere inside your plumbing line and eventually mixes with everything else that goes down your drains. 

Bones are hard to grind and may even break your garbage disposal. But even if your garbage disposal is powerful enough to grind up bones, then what are you left with? Mostly calcium particles! And calcium is one of the minerals that build up in plumbing pipes. Egg shells may grind up in your garbage disposal, but like bones, they’re made up primarily of calcium. That build up eventually causes pipes to corrode and leak. But not right away. 

At first they lay there and mix with the oil, potato paste and coffee grounds just a few feet below the kitchen sink inside the drainage pipes. Then imagine if you push through a few bits of fibrous foods like banana peelings, celery and onion skins. These fibers often get wound up in the blades, making them difficult to grind up. They may even cause your garbage disposal to stop working altogether.  Voila! You have the perfect recipe for a plumbing backup! And it’s most likely going to back up at your kitchen sink, either right before your guests arrive or after your meal while some of them are helping you to clean up! 

A Real Life Thanksgiving Day Sink Backup Due to Items That Went Down Garbage Disposal

This very scenario actually happened to a friend of mine. It was her first Thanksgiving meal with her new husband and her husband’s family. She’s a vegetarian so this was her first time cooking a turkey. She’d peeled a massive amount of potatoes to make mashed potatoes, continuously pushing those potato peelings down the garbage disposal. The peelings mixed with the egg shells and coffee grinds she’d previously dumped in the garbage disposal after breakfast. The garbage disposal chugged through the onslaught of peelings, egg shells, coffee grinds and butter drippings from breakfast.  

But suddenly the sink backed up. Then the smoke alarm went off. The paper holding the gizzards inside the turkey caught on fire (she didn’t know to look for paper inside the turkey). Then the doorbell rang. Her mother-in-law arrived in time to throw baking soda into the oven to extinguish the fire. It all ended well in her case. In fact, her in-laws had a good laugh about it. It turned out to be a great bonding experience. They had enough wine that no one complained about the pasty mashed potatoes or burnt turkey. Since they couldn’t use the dishwasher or wash the dishes by hand, they all helped to stack up the dirty dishes. First thing the next day, she got to know her plumber.

Call Us! We Really Are Your “Local” Plumber

Yes, the day after Thanksgiving is a busy day for plumbers. Call is for any plumbing issue. We REALLY are locally owned and operated. In fact, I grew up in Fallbrook helping in my dad’s plumbing business. I’ve had my own plumbing business here serving Fallbrook, Bonsall, Vista, Oceanside and Temecula for over 30 years.

If we’re too busy, I’ll recommend another locally owned and operated plumber. Most of the plumbers you’ll find on line may appear local, but actually many are on contract so you never know who will end up at your door. 

Hopefully, these tips about what to keep out of your garbage disposal will help reduce your stress.  Helping neighbors save money and the reduce stress of plumbing problems is our mission. We’re here for you!

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