It's every dinner host's worst nightmare, a clogged kitchen sink. Don't let this happen to you.
Most of us use our kitchen sink every day, but it's easy to get a clog if the garbage disposal isn't run the right way. Always make sure you run cold water at least 10 seconds before you start placing food down the drain a little bit at a time.
"You're grinding food and trying to float that food through the pipes, so the key is water," Russ Graves, a professional plumber, says.
You also need to keep a careful eye on what you put into your disposal.
"Many of us know that you shouldn't put bones or grease down your garbage disposal, but what you might not realize, is you should also avoid things that absorb water, like rice and pasta, coffee grounds, even egg shells," Angie Hicks of Angie's List says. "They can all do damage to your garbage disposal."
And don't forget to use your disposal every day. Letting it sit idle for several days can actually shorten its life span.
"Even if you're not using your garbage disposal regularly, you should still be maintaining it," Angie says. "You should run it at least once a day to avoid grime build up that could lead to corrosion in your garbage disposal."
Grinding ice cubes or orange peels every month or so will also help extend the life of your disposal. A base model should last about 5 to 7 years. A higher-end unit costs about $300 and will run quieter and more efficiently. Those could last you 10 to 20 years.
"They not only grind twice, they have a feature that reverses the spin, so if it jams, it automatically, you shut it off and when you turn it back on, it spins the other way and it will take care of a lot of the troubles by itself," Graves says.
If you do end up with a clogged kitchen sink, you can rent equipment to try to remove the debris, but you need to be careful not to damage the pipes. If you don't have a lot of plumbing experience, Angie recommends calling in a pro so you don't have a more costly problem in the end.