Halloween Havoc! Maintaining Your Garbage Disposal and Pipes This Halloween

Halloween is a time of year when many people experience plumbing problems. Sometime late in October, plumbers start to get phone calls from distraught homeowners who claim that their garbage disposals are backed up or their pipes are clogged. Why?

It’s all because of the pumpkins. Carving pumpkins is a fun family activity that can spell disaster for your pipes at home. The issue occurs when homeowners try to dispose of their pumpkin seeds in the garbage disposal. Pumpkin guts may feel soft and mushy when they’re fresh from the squash, but once they’re left to dry in your pipes, this stringy, seedy, tough material can harden like cement inside your plumbing.

The Plumber-Preferred Method for Carving Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins doesn’t have to be a pipe-clogging experience. For an easy to clean up pumpkin carving experience, spread newspaper on the table or counter in the location where you plan to do the carving. Place the pumpkin on top of the newspaper and proceed with the carving process as usual. (By the way, if you’re looking for an inspirational pumpkin design, check out this website!)

Keep the pumpkin guts contained to the newspaper. (another tip: at Terry’s Plumbing, we suggest separating the pumpkin seeds, laying them on a cookie sheet, drizzling them with olive oil and sea salt, and then baking them at a very low temperature for many hours. Yummy!)

When the pumpkin carving is complete, remove the pumpkin, fold up the newspaper, then throw it away, put it in your compost or save the contents to make pumpkin vomit.

Other Ways to Protect Your Garbage Disposal this Halloween

Maintaining your garbage disposal isn’t just a matter of not putting pumpkin parts down the pipes. There are numerous ways that you can protect your plumbing using easy DIY solutions.

  • Run the garbage disposal regularly. Leaving your garbage disposal to sit without use may cause the parts to get rusty and the gears to lose their ability to work properly. Run your garbage disposal at least a few times per week to keep it functional.
  • Always grind food with a strong jet of cold water. Hot water can melt fats and oils that then coagulate in the pipes and form clogs. To ensure good operation of your unit, grind food with a strong jet of cold water. Fats and oils will stay solid in the garbage disposal so they can be chopped into small pieces for the trip through your pipes.
  • Grind up ice and salt. Ice will help sharpen the blades of your garbage disposal, while salt will scour the interior of the unit. Salt is also somewhat antibacterial, so this may also help with any mysterious odors coming from the depths of your disposal. Grinding these ingredients together will help keep the appliance clean and in good condition.
  • Use baking soda to clear up smells. If you notice a smell coming from your sink drain, baking soda will absorb any odors deep in the pipes. Sprinkle baking soda into the unit and leave it there overnight. In the morning, flush the disposal with warm water, and then chase it with vinegar.
  • Cut up big food pieces before grinding. Big food pieces can clog the unit. Always cut up your food into small pieces before grinding it in the garbage disposal.

Contact Terry’s Plumbing for More Garbage Disposal Help

At Terry’s Plumbing, we know how to keep your pipes in good condition. To get help with clogs, backed up pipes and garbage disposal problems this Halloween, contact us today at (412) 364-9114.