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Here’s how you can give your garbage disposal some TLC

Everybody loves their garbage disposals when they’re working properly, and everybody gets testy when disposals jam up and refuse to pulverize the leftovers from dinner.

But if you treat it properly and clean it up once in a while, you can keep it running smoothly for a long, long time.

So, here are a few tips on maintaining that indispensable appliance in your sink drain:

• When chopping up garbage in your disposal, keep cold water running and even after the job is done, run the water for another minute or two.

• Keep the tough stuff out of the disposal. Disposals have been known to break down when you try to grind a little bit of shell leftover from a shrimp cocktail. The blades can become dull even though they can chop their way through hard objects. Strong, fibrous veggies can be a problem. Popcorn kernels and bits of bone can jam up the disposal so that you can’t extract them.

• Potato or carrot peelings can probably go through the disposal, but you run the risk that they will slip by the blades and possible jam up your pipes. So compost them or throw them in the garbage.

• Tough broccoli stems or celery should be chopped up before going down the disposal. Corn cobs, fruit pits and egg shells should not be put down the drain.

• If the disposal doesn’t turn or grinds away and doesn’t spin, try the reset button. If the reset trips, when the disposal is turned on, your disposal may be jammed. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if there is a flywheel turning hole at the bottom of the disposal where you can try inserting the wrench you got with the device. After that, it may be time to call a plumber if things don’t start up again.

• Cleaning your disposal regularly is also a good maintenance idea. Pull the rubber splash guard out of the sink and wash it in soapy water. It will remove bits of garbage that stick to the rubber when the disposal is in operation.

• Every couple of months, run a couple of ice cubes through the disposal. The blades will chop them up and the process will help clean up debris left on the blades. After the cubes are gone, pour a capful of cooking oil into the drain to keep everything running smoothly and quietly when the disposal is in action.

Rosie on the House

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