When is it Time for a New Garbage Disposal?

Garbarge_Disposal_RepairMost plumbers would tell you that the average life span for any garbage disposal is about eight to 12 years. This, of course, depends on the make, model, and horse power (HP) of the unit you have. It can also depend greatly on how often you use it and for what. If you just use it occasionally and for light food items it will generally last longer. If you use it daily and try to grind up thick items like old chicken bones or orange peels, chances are you’ll either get a clogged disposal or you’ll likely be needing a new one pretty often.

There are several ways to tell if you need to start thinking about getting a new disposal. First, if you notice foul odors coming from the side of the sink with the disposal, this can be a good clue. Chances are it’s working, but not grinding up as well as it used to and leaving remains which should have drained out. Leaving food residue like this causes the smell.

Another way to tell you may need to be thinking about a replacement is due to noise. All disposals make noise, but when yours starts to sound different or like it’s having a hard time doing the job, chances are it is getting ready to go out. This is often accompanied by the smell noted above.

The final way is by telling when you look into the disposal and see food remains. If it’s just a matter of running the water and letting the disposal run longer, that’s not the problem. This is when you’ve run it as you should and you still see items left in there.

Choosing a New Model
Depending on your needs, for example, how often you cook and how often you use the disposal, will determine the actual HP you need. While you can find garbage disposals in as little as 1/3 HP, these really aren’t practical, even for people who rarely use them. They are typically made with cheaper components and they certainly can’t stand up to grinding much up.

The next higher power is ½ HP and this is the lowest HP any plumber would recommend for home use. It is much sturdier than a 1/3 HP and can stand up to daily use by most families. They run about $100 for a decent unit.

A ¾ HP unit will serve most kitchens, even with heavy daily use. They have the power to grind most food, even those with strings like celery. Many can even stand up to grinding potato peels.

A full 1 HP garbage disposal is usually used in professional kitchens, although serious cooks at home may want to consider them. They can hold much more than other models and can grind a wide range of things. The downside is they take up a lot of room under the sink, so you should probably have a good sized kitchen before even considering this.

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Professional Drain Cleaning

It’s easy to take your home’s plumbing system for granted. That is, until you notice issues with the way water enters or exits your home. Many common piping, faucet, and drain problems result from buildup within your pipes.southwest_drain2

Luckily, a professional drain cleaning can often resolve minor issues completely and prevent serious clogs, backflow issues, and pipe corrosion. But how do you know it’s time to schedule a cleaning?

1. Backflow
When water bubbles back into your sink, shower, or tub, it means that the drainage doesn’t have a clear path. You may notice backflow in an appliance while you use it. For example, water may back up in one side of your kitchen sink while you wash dishes on the other side.

However, backflow may also appear in an unconnected drain. For example, you may see water come up in your shower when you flush the toilet.

2. Blocked Drains
If you notice standing water in an appliance, you likely have a developed clog near the entrance of that particular drain. When a pipe becomes completely blocked off, you will not be able to drain any water from that access point.

Sometimes, you can restore drainage by removing the accessible portion of a clog. For example, you can usually pull some hair out of a shower drain to get water flowing again. However, if you notice a complete blockage, you should schedule a cleaning to ensure that more buildup isn’t hiding just out of reach.southwest_toilet1

3. Empty or Overflowing Toilet Bowl
The water that fills your toilet tank and bowl comes from the same source as the rest of your water. If a blockage occurs, you may not have enough water to supply all your appliances. This shortage can result in an empty or mostly empty toilet bowl.

If the blockage is in your outgoing plumbing, the water in your toilet might not have anywhere to go when you flush. Both these instances require immediate drain cleaning in most cases.

4. Low Water Pressure
Not all drain obstructions occur in exit pipes. You may also notice issues with source points, such as your showerhead or sink faucet. These obstructions often consist of natural buildup, such as hard water minerals.

If you notice a distinct drop in water pressure that affects only one appliance, a clog is likely blocking a portion of that piping.

southwest_smelly5. Localized Drain Odor
While some drain buildup causes no odor, the most common clog causers create a distinct, localized stench that comes up through your drains. If you notice an unpleasant smell around a specific appliance, especially a sink or the tub, you likely have drain buildup that consists of food, organic waste, or other smelly materials.

6. Slow Draining
Before a drain becomes blocked entirely, you may notice a difference in how water flow through it. If you find water pooling around your feet when you shower, you likely have an obstruction in that drain.

As with fully blocked drains, you may have some luck removing visible clogs to speed up how fast an appliance drains. However, most pipe blockages leave debris and residue which you can only remove via professional drain cleaning.

If you notice any combination of the indicators listed above, have an expert plumber inspect your pipes. You likely have food, plant matter, or waste hanging around in your pipes. Leaving these issues unaddressed can lead to serious plumbing emergencies, including flooding and even black water backflow.

Keep your plumbing in good order by watching for these signs and scheduling drain cleaning services when needed.

Summer Plumbing Tips

Summer is in full swing! While you are enjoying the sun with family and friends your plumbing may be suffering. With kids out for summer and barbecue weather people tend to have more traffic flowing through their homes which means toilets, faucets, and washing machines may be working extra time. Here are a few plumbing things to keep in mind this summer:

southwest_hook_upsSummer vacation often means kids at home and working up a sweat during outdoor activities. Chances are your washing machine is doing some extra work, so be sure it is running properly. Check the hoses in the back for any possible leaks. If you do need a replacement, the extra money a stainless steel hose costs compared to a rubber hose will be worth it for the added lifetime.

Not only will your washing machine be doing extra work, but with more people home and barbecue guests coming over your toilets and drains will probably be working overtime as well. Keep an eye on any possible clogs, and keep a plunger handy for clearing them up.southwest_toilet

And whenever a problem arises that you cannot solve yourself, remember that the South West Plumbing team is always ready to help!