It took me a long time to figure out that my galvanized-steel disposal was causing my kitchen drain to clog. I guess I never gave my garbage disposal any thought, unless it stopped running, or started leaking.If your kitchen drain tends to clog when you use your garbage disposal, it's not your fault, nor the fault of your plumbing. More likely, the fault lies with the galvanized steeldeep inside your disposal, where they figure nobody will ever look!
Actually, even then I didn't give it much thought. I just replaced it with something cheap with a hefty amount of horsepower. I figured that was important, because every disposal in the store has a huge horsepower sign plastered on the side.
And that strategy seemed to work. Every disposal I ever bought was unstoppable, with plenty of power to grind up everything. (Except maybe silverware, which disposals tend to snack on like they're nachos.)
Unfortunately, my kitchen drain is not unstoppable. So after a while, the time would come when I had to be careful how fast I fed the disposal, or the drain would clog. My plumber said the problem was that our house had "old pipes". Seemed reasonable. So I learned to be careful to not put too much garbage in the disposal at one time. And I learned how to take apart the sink trap apart to pull out the clog.
Eventually though, I began to suspect that maybe the age of the pipes wasn't the problem. I mean, why is it the drain never clogged when the disposal was new?
Ignoring the "wisdom" of my plumber, I set out to look into the situation myself. Literally. I got a flashlight and peered into the mouth of the disposal. Hah! Just as I expected, there was yucky stuff in there.
What I didn't expect, was how corroded the inside of of the disposal was, given that it was scarcely two years old, and still bright and shiny on the outside!
Here's a picture of the inside of this "corrosion resistant" disposal:
Well, that hole isn't supposed to be there! There should be a metal-toothed shredder ring there, guarding the exit port. But the shredder-ring teeth -- and most of the turntable -- have rusted away. So instead of holding all the garbage until it was properly ground up, this rusted hulk let huge chunks out that clogged up the drain.
Yet, on the outside, the disposal looks nearly new! And that's what is so mean about putting galvanized-steel parts on the inside, where they have no business being. The outside can look almost new, and the horsepower sticker on that powerful motor will still be shiny. But the grind-chamber will have rusted away, and you'll need to keep your plumber's phone number on speed-dial!
It bears repeating: Galvanized steel parts on the inside of a disposal are not acceptable. Their use is unconscionable, and frankly borders on fraud.
Galvanized steel isn't bad --- provided it's used in an appropriate environment. The steel is coated with a very thin protective zinc-coating, which can do a great job of preventing rust, provided that zinc shell remains completely intact. But one little nick, and the "corrosion-clock" starts ticking. Eventually, electrolytic action will turn every last bit of the underlying steel to rust.
So galvanized steel isn't bad, unless it's used in a harsh wet environment. Like, say, on the inside a garbage disposal?
How do I know if galvanized steel is used in my disposal?
Unfortunately, sometimes it's hard to be sure. You may have to decode "marketing-speak" terms, such as:
Corrosion-Resistant ==> Galvanized Steel
Corrosion-Proof ==> Stainless Steel
One thing you can be sure about, is disposal manufacturers love galvanized steel components! They are cheap to make, and most people don't even know they should care. Better yet, they ensure that people will keep buying new disposals, every few years like clockwork.
Manufacturers have a good idea of exactly how long their galvanized steel components will last, and set their warranty period accordingly. If your disposal has a two-year warranty, you can be sure all the galvanized parts on the inside will have dissolved after about two years.
Even if your garbage-disposal seems to be working OK, I suggest you get a flashlight and peek inside -- after you run it, of course, to get rid of the really gross stuff. If all you see is shiny metal, then no worries!
But if you see rusted metal, and holes where there should be metal, start shopping for a new disposal with stainless steel grind components. Humongous horsepower is optional.