Garbage Disposals and Septic Systems
If the garbage disposal discharges into a septic tank, it can place a significant strain on the septic system. The amount of waste that enters the tank, particularly grease and suspended solids, will increase considerably. This load increase requires that the septic tank be pumped more often than would otherwise be required. The additional strain will also reduce the life span of the septic system. Septic systems can be designed to accommodate food waste but, in general, they are not.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) does not require garbage disposals to have GFCI protection. GFCI protection for this appliance is optional.
The vibration caused by the operation of a garbage disposal can cause electrical connections to separate. Check for any loose connections in the wire compartment box at the base of the disposal. Cable clamps should be installed.
Garbage disposals should be either hardwired or connected to an outlet through a grounded electrical outlet.
A dedicated circuit is generally recommended, although a circuit that is shared with a dishwasher is sometimes appropriate. The best authority on this distinction is the disposal’s user manual.
Maintenance and Operation Suggestion
Put only small quantities of food into the disposal at a time. Large food scraps should be cut into smaller pieces before entering the disposal.
Never put anything down the disposal that is not food or water. Bottle caps, aluminum foil, and other non-food items can damage the disposal or get stuck in piping.
Run water while using the disposal, and for approximately 30 seconds after you turn it off. Food scraps will flow through the piping more easily if they are pushed along by the water. Cold water is better than warm water for this purpose because it will force fats and grease to congeal and harden, allowing them to move more easily through pipes. Warm water can be run through the disposal while it is not in operation.
Ice can be used to clear off solidified grease and other debris from the blades in a garbage disposal. Small pieces of citrus (lemon, lime or oranges) can be used to freshen the smell.
The garbage disposal should only be used to grind non-fibrous, leftover food. If in doubt as to whether something can be put in the disposal, err on the side of caution and put it in the trash instead. The following items should never be put in disposal:
items that are hard enough to dull the blades, such as shells from shellfish or bones;
food that is highly fibrous, such as corn husks, artichokes, pineapples, potato peels, asparagus, or celery should enter the disposal only in small quantities or be avoided entirely. These foods take a long time to grind and can clog the disposal or the plumbing.