garbage disposalIf you find a little extra time on your hands during the “Pandemic Period,” there may be a few maintenance items with your rental to consider. We’ll throw out a few tips in small chunks- starting with garbage disposals.  A garbage disposal can make life easier for discarding some kitchen waste. However, the device can lead to trouble if not used correctly. Many landlords opt for taking garbage disposals out entirely. However, if you plan to someday live in the home again, you may want to keep it, and learn how to maintain it. Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts.

Do use a garbage disposal sparingly

Any large items put into a plumbing system can cause clogs. Even smaller pieces can be problematic for septic tanks and cesspools. Having too much solid matter will throw these systems out of balance, reducing the ability to break down waste. Putting too much food garbage down the disposal may cause a costly system failure. Large food items should still be scraped into the trash or compost bin, and only the residual allowed to go in the disposal.

Do run the disposal with cold water

Always run cold water down the drain when using the disposal. Not only will water help push scraps down the pipes, cold water in particular helps coagulate fats, which allows the disposal blades to grind them up so they don’t stick to the pipes and cause clogs.

septic tankDon’t put off maintaining your septic or cesspool system

According to Roto rooter, when you use a garbage disposal with a septic tank or cesspool, the ground up food particles contribute to the layer of solids that is deposited on the bottom of your septic tank. Regular use of a garbage disposal can drastically increase the amount of waste you are pumping into the system, and require more frequent pumping.

Don’t put just anything into the disposal

In addition to only putting small food scraps down a disposal, be careful about what goes in there. Don’t grind up non-food items, bones or fibrous foods like banana peels. Avoid things like grease and oil that can build up on pipes and cause a clog. The surprising thing that made one owner take out all garbage disposals in her rentals? Rice! Putting cooked rice and pasta down a garbage disposal mashes the material into a thick paste that can cause the disposal to stop working or clog the drain.

Remind tenants that garbage disposals aren’t designed to be a substitute for a trash can and include the do’s and don’ts in your house rules. Otherwise you may be in for repeat plumbing bills, or worse, cesspool or septic overflow.