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The Garbage Disposal

This weekend, I learned that shrimp shells are not appropriate fodder for the garbage disposal. Previously, I have learned that tea leaves are not appropriate fodder for the garbage disposal, either.

I learned about the shrimp because Mrs. Mellow created a wonderful shrimp dish for my Sunday School picnic this weekend. I went to clean up the dishes and all the shells were still in the sink, so I fired up the disposal and started flushing the shells down the drain. At first, everything seemed fine. About halfway through, however, I noticed that the water level in the sink was rising. Obviously, the disposal had done all it could and some of the shrimp shells decided to clog the drain anyway. I spent about an hour trying to scoop mangled shrimp shells out of the disposal. Eventually, I gave up -- it was about one o'clock Monday morning by this point -- and put some Drano in the drain, hoping it might do *something* overnight and I'd be able to figure it out Monday.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to find the sink still clogged. I poked with it a little bit before going to work, but couldn't get it flowing again. I decided that my next move was probably going to be to remove the disposal and turn it upside-down and shake, hoping to dislodge anything that was still causing a problem. I certainly didn't have time for that before work yesterday, so I went ahead to work.

I got to a good stopping point on my project about halfway through the afternoon, so I decided to come home and spend some quality time with the disposal. I had given myself several hours to take apart the disposal, clean it, and reattach it. Sure enough, when I got home, there was still some standing water in the sink. As a last ditch effort before taking apart the entire assembly, I retrieved the plunger and gave the sink a couple of plunges.


I tried again.

*gurgle* *gurgle* *bubble* *bubble*

It looked like the water might be slowly receding. Another couple of plunges and the water was definitely receding. I reached my hand in the drain and scooped out some more shrimp an onion. Once I took my hand out, the drain seemed clear and the water drained freely.

I ran some more water down the drain and ran the disposal for about 30 seconds to make sure it seemed to be working fine. It was. I fed the disposal a sliced lemon to make sure it would still dispose of garbage. It did. I enjoy feeding the garbage disposal lemons because it makes the kitchen smell so good.

Relieved that the project I thought would be messy and take several hours to complete only took me about ten minutes, I went downstairs and read more Ender's Game.

I'd make a poll, but I hate checking the text entries of polls, so I'll just ask the question and encourage everyone to respond in the comments: What have you fed to a garbage disposal that you shouldn't have?

Now playing: Down on My Bended Knees - Big Joe Duskin (Don't Mess with the Boogie Man)</span>


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2004 05:14 pm (UTC)
Things fed to the disposal...
A metal spoon
Some of your toys when we were growing up
Chicken bones

Just kidding about those toys.
Jun. 29th, 2004 05:20 pm (UTC)
A properly functioning, adequately powered garbage disposal should be able to deal with anything that a reasonable human might dump into it.

The problem is usually that the disposals installed by builders are often so called "builder's model" devices that are woefully underpowered, shoddy junk. The solution is to spend a few bucks and install a quality disposal with adequate horsepower.

It may also reflect a poorly designed or improperly installed drain system for the sink or one that has become clogged or corroded over time.

Jun. 29th, 2004 05:21 pm (UTC)
Shrimp shells go down our disposal just fine as do leafy things. We've got a pretty new disposal, though, and we're both psycho about running it as soon as we put anything down the drain, with lots of water running through it, too. I did discover that quartered and eighth'd limes (leftover from caipirinhas) don't work too well, though, and back when Paul and I still drank soda, I had a bad habit of accidentally letting cans slip partway into the drain, forgetting they were there, and then turning on the disposal and hearing the most godawful noise. :) And I've been known to run the disposal with measuring spoons and funnel filters down there, too.
Jun. 29th, 2004 05:42 pm (UTC)
I currently don't have a disposal (and really need to look into getting one installed), but the only thing previous disposals really haven't liked are the random metal objects (spoons) that have fallen in them when I wasn't looking.
Jun. 29th, 2004 05:52 pm (UTC)
Old linguini. That stuff gets GLUED together and let me tell you, it was nasty work cleaning it out. I had to take the entire drain apart.
Jun. 29th, 2004 05:56 pm (UTC)
rillifane's remark is right on.

We occasionally feed fruits - specifically lemons, oranges, and/or limes - to our disposal in order to freshen its breath. We also occasionally feed solid ice cubes (i.e. not crushed ice) to ours in order to sharpen its blades. Someone in my household -- I won't mention any names, but her initials are Mrs. Eagle -- had to learn to start the water and the motor before starting to drop stuff down the disposal's throat. ;)

Thanks for the fun story. :)
Jun. 29th, 2004 05:57 pm (UTC)
What have you fed to a garbage disposal that you shouldn't have?
Jimmie Hoffa.
Jun. 29th, 2004 06:25 pm (UTC)
Potatoes (they seem to form the perfect starchy sediment which clogs the drain nicely)

By far the worse thing was accidentally spilling gravel from an aquarium which completely locked up the disposal. It took about an hour with a screw driver to dislodge many pieces of gravel to allow the motor to move again.

Our current house doesn't have a disposal, but our last apartment had an ancient one with ancient plumbing to compliment it. The drain was too slow to handle the post processed materials most of the time and was prone to clogging very easily. Apparently disposals have some kind of pressure relief system. One time the drain was clogged up so firmly that the disposal sprayed quite a bit of waste water underneath the sink.

I agree with the other comment: "Contractor Grade" anything sucks in a big way. It's amazing how you can have a nice house built and the cheapest of the cheap plumbing, appliances, etc. will be installed by the contractors.
Jun. 29th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)
I've never had a disposal in my adult life. We just throw junk in the trash, scraping dishes and having to fish junk out of the drain's catcher (bleh)... and at one time, we'd dump organic refuse into a bag to take to the farmer's market for the compost people. But that was when I lived 7 blocks from the greenmarket.
Jun. 30th, 2004 03:22 am (UTC)
I've retrieved the odd spoon, knife, etc. out of disposals, and replaced one. When I bought one I was careful to get the one that would turn the opposite direction each time you turned it on. Loosens all manner of crud.

But... I once watched someone put things you should NEVER put in a garbage disposal into one. The Newark, NJ airport customs agents had a "food grinder" that was used for disposing of foodstuffs that shouldn't be brought into the US. It was basically a 40HP garbage disposal with a six-inch maw. This thing would eat anything, and it was noisy (which was why I was there). I kidded the customs guy about dropping a whole coconut into it. He calmly switched it on, tossed in a coconut, and it simply disappeared. The motor hardly changed pitch.

So, how to put a load on this monster? The customs officials were way ahead of us. We were ready for the noise tests, and out they come with about 40 pounds of plantains and beef jerky, and the like. On goes the tape recorder, on goes the food grinder, and they just start shoveling this stuff in. They washed down the table with a little water, the drain emits a polite burp, and it's all gone. Even Fred Flintstone's disposal couldn't keep with this beast.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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