Keeping a kitchen clean and neat is impossible without garbage disposal. The device is attached to the waste pipe of your kitchen sink. It grinds up food waste and removes it.
The condition of your garbage disposal directly affects the hygiene of your kitchen. If it stops working at any time, you will realize how important it is.
In this article, we will look at the anatomy of garbage disposal so that you can understand its inner structure, mechanism of working, source of any problem and way of repairing very well.
You may also like to read – best garbage disposal
Visual Guide of a Garbage Disposal
We have said earlier that the garbage disposal is installed to the waste pipe of the sink and the food waste gets aggregated in the hopper chamber of the unit. The hopper chamber is located below the sink drain.
For the convenience of your understanding, we have added a graphic tutorial that will provide you with an “exploded view” diagram of the inner construction of the garbage disposal chamber.
Though our main purpose is to introduce you with different parts of the garbage disposal unit we would like to discuss the basic working mechanism of the unit so that you can understand the importance and necessity of the parts well.
When you switch on the garbage disposal the motor swirls the flywheel and the connected impellers at almost 2,000 RPM. This connected impeller along with the shredder ring mainly grinds and pulverizes the waste food.
Then water from the faucet of your sink flushes the ground and pulverized waste food out the waste line connector discharge outlet and down the sewers system or some time into the septic system. I would like to inform you about an important matter that some municipalities’ area restricts the disposal usage with a septic system. You may be find this reading this article interesting.
You should have a clear idea about the main parts of a garbage disposal unit so that if there occurs any problem or if any fixation is required you can understand that well. And here is our small attempt to help you to know the basic anatomy of garbage disposal:
The stopper is the part where waste food goes at the first step for processing. It is located below the sink flange (an open gasket that has a circular shape).
It has similarity in appearance with the plug of the sink drain and if you look into the drain of your kitchen sink you can see the stopper. For easier passing of the waste items stopper opens and closes easily.
There are two hopper chambers in a garbage disposal unit – one is upside-down and other is downside-up.
The first hopper located under the sink sends the food waste into the shredder of the disposal. Inside the lower hopper chamber, there is an insulated motor. The motor is insulated to protect it from water.
You cannot see this part by looking from outside, you have to open the cabinet to see this part. The hopper has a connection to the stopper of the switch.
Shredder ring breaks the waste items and converts these into small pieces for easier processing. Shredder is circular in shape. It sends the waste particles into the impeller part using its rotating motion.
Below the shredder ring, there is an impeller. The impeller has a significant influence to control the pressure of the fluid.
It also has a significant influence to break the food substance into little tiny pieces along with the shredder ring, in fact, impeller also works to break down the waste particles together with the shredder ring through a number of slots, blades, and holes.
Flywheel has a significant effect to maintain constant power output. It helps to send the broken tiny pieces of waste item into the lower hopper chamber.
Waste Line Connector
From the lower hopper chamber finally, the tiny pieces of a food item are disposed through the waste line connector.
Dishwasher Connector and Knock Out
To connect the garbage disposal unit with the dishwasher there is a dishwasher connector at the top position of the unit. If you see the picture well you will notice a knock out that is basically a closed inlet pipe.
Before using you should open the closed mouth of this inlet pipe and that is why it is designated as knock out i.e. you have to knock out the closed mouth. Before start knocking out the closed mouth of the inlet pipe do not forget to read the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer of your purchased unit.
The dishwasher outlet hose needs to connect to the garbage disposals dishwasher inlet pipe. Another important thing you should take care of that you should run the disposal before running the dishwasher to confirm the water drainage.
Below the garbage disposal unit, there are an electrical cover plate, electrical reset button, power cord and manual flywheel turning holes. Not all the brands have an electrical reset button located at the bottom position of the unit rather some brands have this button on the front part of the unit.
For more details read – everything you need to know about garbage disposal.
How to get the best out of your garbage disposal
Now that we have mapped out the anatomy of a garbage disposal, it is time for a quick look at some important tips. Each component of a garbage disposal unit requires cleaning and maintenance from time to time. This takes care of the overall longevity and efficiency of your unit and eliminates issues from an overworked motor or damaged parts. Here are some ways to help you keep your garbage disposal’s parts functional and effective in the long run.
Consider the horsepower and motor speed
Before you buy a garbage disposal unit, consider the technical details such as its horsepower and motor speed. A greater horsepower of ¾ and 1 HP usually works best for heavy-duty uses if you frequently throw in scraps down the disposal unit. The higher the HP, the stronger the unit, and the better it can pulverize tough scraps like potato peels and even bones. Low HP units will burn out quicker with heavy loads and are not suitable for peels at all. Also, faster motors enable maximum grinding without the unit getting jammed, so HP and motor speed are definitely important factors to consider. If you do not use a disposal often, low HP units and average motor speeds are the best options. Most brands introduce special technologies like noise reduction or multiple grinding with an auto-reverse feature. Depending on your applications and frequency of disposal, consider additional features like these within your budget, as they always go the extra mile and simplify your work in the kitchen.
Take care during assembly and removal
Garbage disposal units are usually quite easy to install and remove if you know what you are doing. Make sure that you buy compatible units that actually fit your kitchen sink setting and utilities. You can then install the individual parts in simple DIY steps – or call in a professional to help you out. It is important to get the installation right to prevent issues such as leaks. Removing the parts one by one is needed during unit replacements, maintenance, and de-jamming purposes.
Generally, the motor comes out first, and then you can handle the inner components easily. You have to be extra careful about the given outlets and power supplies for your specific configuration, otherwise, the installation and removal can be faulty and cause problems later on. This is also why it is crucial to get these details correct before buying a garbage disposal unit.
Avoid jams and clogs
Jamming and clogging are common issues whether you use garbage disposals frequently or rarely. The best way to prevent disposal jams and clogs is to avoid throwing in scraps that are not meant for the unit to tackle. These include everything from grease, fiber, and peels to fruit pits, eggshells, and bones. Oily substances increase the risk of clogs in the drain, whereas hard ones can cause the flywheel and shredder to get stuck. It is important to de-jam your garbage disposal as soon as possible so that the unit returns back to normal. Using a jammed unit or resetting it again and again can damage the motor. So, it is highly recommended to avoid tossing in anything that is tough to grind and can clog the disposal unit – you can just throw those scraps away in the trash can.
Another easy preventive tip is to keep your unit and inner parts clean. If they do get clogged or jammed, you should first turn off the electrical supply and unplug the unit before cleaning anything. Usually, pressing the reset button helps dislodge a minor clog, but if this does not work, you might need some simple tools like tweezers and disposal wrenches. They will help you reach the jammed flywheel and impeller to remove the clog. Once the path is clear, your garbage disposal should work as good as new and pulverize food scraps easily.
Ensure regular maintenance
Good maintenance, cleaning, and proper replacements are useful for protecting your unit. Regular or routine maintenance is essential for avoiding recurring problems like clogs, jammed parts, and burnt-out motors. Technically, complete maintenance depends on the type of garbage disposal you are using and what the brand recommends. You can follow the care instructions based on the brand you use. In general, grinding ice cubes with some cold water once a month allows the shredder blades to remain sharp. Also, rinsing with cold water alone and avoiding hot water increases the efficiency of the whole unit, as this prevents the motor from overheating. Even if you are not using the garbage disposal, switching on the system once in a while will keep the individual parts functioning and active.
You can follow basic DIY cleaning hacks with vinegar, baking soda, and citrus juice as part of the routine maintenance. Organic cleaners are much better than chemicals and they are also useful for keeping bacteria away from your garbage disposal’s parts. Various cleaning pods are available in garbage disposal cleaning kits, so make sure you read the ingredients before using the pods. You can also invest in a good de-jamming wrench and garbage disposal brush to ensure thorough cleaning.
If needed, any damaged parts will have to be replaced with new ones. Make sure that you always turn off the unit and unplug it from any connections before disassembling and replacing any components. Most stores offer replacement parts that fit disposal units from different brands, so you can always find a compatible discharge tube, a sink flange, stoppers, gaskets, etc. If any serious concerns do arise that you cannot solve from basic troubleshooting advice or with DIY maintenance steps, then you should skip all tutorials and simply call an expert to handle the situation. Garbage disposals are connected to outlets as we have seen above, so tampering with anything can easily turn disastrous for your utility networks. So, if you are using such a system for the first time, limit your guesswork and take expert advice once a month or so whenever your disposal unit reaches its full maintenance stage.
The garbage disposal unit may turn off because of getting jammed by the waste items. In such situation, the electric motor and wiring may get damaged and that is why you need to open the unit and free up stuck flywheel by removing the item causing the jam so that the flywheel may rotate freely.
If you have a proper idea about the anatomy of a garbage disposal unit, you can do all of this stuff very well by yourself. Moreover, maintaining the device will become easier and you can also do it with proper care and consciousness if you are acquainted with the anatomy of the garbage disposal unit.