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Is It Possible To Break Disposal Blades?

So, let's hear an answer - is it possible to break disposal blades?

Disposal blades are called "impeller blades."

They are designed in different shapes to attempt to cut and chop debris in the disposal.

The smaller it is chopped, the easier it is to wash away.  The larger the motor (builder size 1/3 horsepower - my disposal 3/4 horsepower) the better the chop, slice and dice.

However, no blade-o, no chop-o.  That's perfect Spanish.

Turning on this disposal it sounded funny.

It's important to listen to the sounds of appliances as they operate, and as you use them or maintain them!

That way you will know when things just don't seem right.

I listen to lots of disposals!

Turning this one on it did not have that clinking, grind sound I am so familiar with.

It sounded more like a jet engine, with a high-spinning whir, but none of the familiar clinking of the blades turning in an empty disposal.

And looking inside I could see why.

It was an old disposal and seriously rusty.

THE BLADES WERE GONE!

I don't know that I've ever seen that, and I have peeked into lots and lots of disposals!

Here are some DON'TS when operating disposals.  DON'T put this into your disposal:

  • Large items - if you have large food chunks you should cut them up a bit
  • Hard items, like bones.  You mean chicken wings don't sharpen the disposal impeller blades?  NO!
  • Grease
  • Coffee grinds and egg shells
  • Starchy stuff, which will further swell and clog the pipes
  • Stringy vegetables like celery and rhubarb
  • Fruit and vegetable skins (except citrus)
  • Bleach, which will ruin the seals and can splatter back into your face
  • Unpopped popcorn kernels!
  • Common sense things, like coins, metal screws, plastic bottle caps, plastic cooking wrap or sandwich bags (I've seen all this!)
  • Rags, paper towels or paper
  • Your hand - UNLESS YOU ARE CERTAIN THE UNIT CANNOT COME ON!

Is it possible to sharpen the disposal impeller blades?

YES!

With ice.  Lots of ice.  And do it a couple of times a month.  Run cold water at the same time as the unit is grinding up the ice.

Grinding this ice will do something more.  Ice will harden any greasy deposits inside the unit and that will help to wash them away.  The cleaner things are, the sharper they will be, and the more effective they will grind debris.

Is it possible to clean the disposal and get rid of odors?

YES!

Grinding bunches of lemon and other citrus peels will help a lot!  And their oils linger to help eliminate smells.

Also, baking soda and white vinegar - 5 tablespoons of each.  Let it bubble up and sit for a while, preferably overnight.

Also, Borax and water.  Again, 5 tablespoons of each, letting it also do its magic and sit overnight.

I assure you that home inspectors' disposals smell just as bad as yours.  This home inspector sharpens and then deodorizes his disposal monthly.  He also has a big one - 3/4 horsepower, purchased on sale for less than $100 and he never looked back.

My recommendation:  be smart!  Be careful what you put down the disposal!  If it gets stuck it can be loosened from below with an Allen wrench (they come now with the special wrench) or from above with a broom handle stuck down inside and turned clockwise.  They aren't magic!  But treated well a disposal will last a good while, even 10 or more years.*

 

*  The old adage - if it ain't broke don't fix it sometimes applies, but not always.  A few years ago we put in granite counter tops and the disposal was working fine, but was 10 years old.  I decided to replace it even though it looked and sounded good.  Why not?  Everything under the sink was torn apart and removed anyway to accommodate all the new stuff.  And it was on sale!

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 46 commentsJay Markanich • November 04 2013 03:30AM

Comments

Great advice, Jay.  I miss having a garbage disposal. Maybe one of these days I'll install one. - Debbie

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) over 5 years ago

You forgot Jay...the collection of silverware that takes on a whole new shape on it's halted journey down the drain....David says...just say "no silverware."  Have a great week !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 5 years ago

Yikes WOW Cousin!  No disposal?  How do you ever get through life...

S&D - I have seen magicians on TV who claim to be able to bend silverware.  Do they use disposals to do that?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago
Jay - I've heard some bad disposal sounds, but my ear is not as attuned as yours!
Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 5 years ago

Carol - I have a disposal tuning fork in my tool bag.  You don't?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Thanks for the information about the ice that's one I didn't know.  Guess what I'm about to do today? 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 5 years ago

Sell a house James?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago
Great information Jay. Much of which I was unaware. Thanks!
Posted by Bill and MaryAnn Wagner, Jersey Shore and South Jersey Real Estate (Wagner Real Estate Group) over 5 years ago

This post is for city folks.   O.K.  we country folks are outnumbered. 

I did upgrade the motor in my disposal when I moved in to a 3/4 HP.   I'm sure it will operate smoothly if I ever put anything in it.

I'll add one thing to your list of stuff not to put in a disposal - GOOSE FEATHERS!!!

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay! Thank you for the great tips about garbage disposals. The timing is good--since Thanksgiving is right around the corner. The best tip for me is how to sharpen the blades...I am giving it a try this week.

Posted by Blatt + Cutino, Broker-Associate 831/206-8070*Call today* (Keller Williams Coastal Estates) over 5 years ago

My blades rusted off as you mentioned. It was old & one day, as you mentioned, it sounded different.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 5 years ago

Had no idea ice sharpened the blades. I was told ice would clean the disposal. We don't use ours much, since we have a septic system I try to keep as much stuff oout of it as possible.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 5 years ago

I actually had one of those blades come completely off and was lying loose in the impeller! Also, folks with septic tanks probably shouldn't have a disposal, not a good idea to put food in the septic system. :-)

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

Oh no!  Featured post!  I won't be back until later today.  What's the over/under on when it gets unfeatured - 1pm?  3pm?  I'll stay tuned...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I will go with the over cause.... you are da man! 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

Here in Manhattan, a garbage disposal is very rare.  I have to assume that in these large buildings the buildingers assume the plumbing can't take the risk of people putting all sorts of stuff down the drains.  

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

I always check for the blades being intact.

I have only found one that was not.

Have a good day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 5 years ago

Great feature post Jay!

I'd like to add egg shells to your list of things to not put down the disposal.

 

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 5 years ago

Jay, I've heard of putting ice in the disposal. When the ice maker fills up and the ice cubes start sticking together, it time to dump it down the disposal. Works every time.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 5 years ago

Have never seen a disposal with broken blades but am sure it happens. New the tricks but great reminders.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 5 years ago

I wonder what they put down that disposal to completely disintegrate the blades? :)

My boyfriend put a shot glass down our disposal once (not on purpose, thank god) and it locked up the blades. That allen wrench sure came in handy.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 5 years ago

Most excellent post and presentation as who doesn't have one of these?

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 5 years ago

Jay, thank you, thank you for an incredibly informative post! Glad to see it featured. I'ved done the citrus thing, and baking soda& vinegar (SUCH GREAT NATURAL CLEANERS), but the ice idea is new to me.

Gotta bookmark this one! (The photo at first threw me off--it looked like the wheel of a tire!)

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) over 5 years ago

Great Post, I've never heard of the broke and missing blades.  My husband is a Master Plumber and all of years changing garbage grinder on residential or commerical buildings, I've never heard him mention blades being broke or gone.  I did know about the ice and citrus fruit.  And also another food not to put inside the grinder is a whole pot of hot spaghetti.  We had our neighbor do that and it clogged up her machine.

Posted by Graziella Bruner, Associate Broker - Serving Wayne & Oakland County (NCS Premier Real Estate) over 5 years ago

I don't use my garbage disposal.  I recycle fruit and vegetable scraps in a plastic bin mixed with soil as compost for my garden.  Meat scraps go into a plastic bag in the freezer temporarily before they go out with the trash.  Paper, plastic, cans and cardboard get recycled.  I have seen bread bag twist ties and spoons jammed in disposals at rental properties.

Posted by Jerry Lucas, Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training (ABC Legal Docs LLC) over 5 years ago

Really informative post Jay.  I didn't know about the ice either. It's amazing what you can learn everyday on AR!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 5 years ago
Years ago I remember my plumber at the time advising against having a garbage installed in my kitchen. You offered a lot of useful tips for those of us who do use garbage disposals. Using lots of ice to sharpen the disposal blades is very handy information to pass along!
Posted by Andrew Payne Realtor® Richmond VA Homes For Sale~804-938-5257~, Richmond, VA, Real Estate, SRES®, NAR Green (Coach House Realty) over 5 years ago

I've seen rocks come out of garbage disposals.  What the heck are rocks doing in there?

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) over 5 years ago

Jay- I'm laughing (with you).  Many many years ago, my friends in the apt complex where I lived decided to have a shrimp fest.  Yep, all those shrimp tails, etc, down the disposal, which voiced its displeasure by taking leave of us.    My husband taught me years ago the ice cube trick and yes, I do the white vinegar and baking soda as well.  Love to see it bubble up. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 5 years ago

Jay, did not know that ice sharpened the blades. Thanks for the tips about what not to put down a disposal. 

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 5 years ago

SO your saying NOT to put my hand down the disposal to check to see if the blades are still there with it running?

 

hmmmmmmmm

Posted by David Shamansky, Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg (US Mortgages - David Shamansky) over 5 years ago

Never seen a disposal with broken blade, but I once broke a glass in the sink...I thought I had all of the glass out of the disposal until I ran it and all of a sudden I had a leak. There's a seal inside that doesn't like broken glass...I have gotten pretty good at replacing them.  Now I know to run the disposal when I dump the ice.

Posted by Jim Beitz (Keller Williams Success Realty) over 5 years ago

Jay, I will see your urban legend and then raise you one.  Ice merely cleans out all the nooks and crannies making the impeller work better--but no actual sharpening involved.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Fred - that was a message to someone, who will remain nameless.  Since June I have had 15 blogs featured and then unfeatured in the same day.  It's, um, tiring.

Morgan - people don't believe this, but that has to do with the garbage union.  Look it up.

I just listen Clint!  I have never before seen just a spinning wheel.

Tom - I added that in your honor!  Because you are correct.  And I like you.

Mike - I do it all the time.  It really cleans everything, which makes it work more efficiently and essentially sharper.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Bill - it's essentially a grinding wheel, but things can break!

Don't know Suzanne, but your story is better!

Richie - I'm sure the percentage of houses with disposals is pretty high.

Thanks Gayle.  I had never heard a disposal sound like this one and looking inside saw only a spinning wheel.  What's that Blood, Sweat and Tears song again?

Graziella - starchy stuff would include spaghetti noodles!  Fer sher.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

That's a lot of work Jerry!  I get my compost by the truck full at the County compost center.

Tom - the ice cleans everything well, making it work better, as it's essentially sharper.

Andrew - I bet the percentage of houses with disposals exceeds 95%.  I don't know why he would advise against it!

Marc - trying to escape?

Kathy - what's fun is fun!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Pamela - all the disposal sites say that.  I think ice just cleans things really well, making things operate better as it's essentially sharper.

David - you can try.  I never believed my mother and had to learn things the hard way.

Utah - can you think of a more fun way to get rid of ice?

Charlie - it cleans things, making it all essentially sharper as it works.  I understand the blades kind of sharpen themselves as they move about, like the old lawn mowers we pushed as kids!  But they sharpen better when clean!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Bill and Mary Ann - I almost missed this group!  Glad you were informed!  That's the idea.

That's a great size Lenn!  And I will have to remember that feathers tip.

Angelica - what can be more fun than grinding up ice!?

Lyn - so, you confirm my post!?

Than - your septic system likes things it can turn into effluent!

Fred - how fun was that?  And as to the septic, live a little!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Am i crazy to automatically that disposable blades would or should be designed to break?

 

Love and light,

Laura

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 5 years ago

And I think Angelica is right think to be funny and cynical about it all! :)

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 5 years ago

Laura - they aren't really blades but a grinding/cutting ring.  Piece by piece they can rust off, until what is left is a wheel!  I don't think they are designed to break as without them there would be no disposing!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, THANK you for writing this post -- I'm showing it to my husband, especially because it was written by a "home inspector."  In the last 25 years, we've had 3 new garbage disposals -- why?  Someone in our household continues to put grease and eggs shells in it!  Doesn't matter how much I plead . . .

Posted by Bette Gottwald, "Bet"on Central PA Real Estate! (UNITED REAL ESTATE | Central PA) over 5 years ago

Bette - some things work in there, and some things don't!  Glad to help!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I wonder what or who they were grinding.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay, Disposers often sound like a aircraft in take off. Couple that with a steel sink you get a real sweet sound ; )

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Drywall screws and duct tape Jim?

Get a couple of forks in there too Don!  It's a symphony!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

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