Can I Put Spaghetti Down the Drain?

Garbage disposals came to the market in 1940. (Fun fact: The garbage disposals used to be referred to as “electric pigs.”) An architect, John Hammes, wanted to find a way to speed up the process of cleaning the kitchen. He tinkered in his basement until he came up with a machine that would grind leftover food into small pieces that can be sent to the sewer instead of being put into a trash can to be taken outside. The premise behind the proper use of a disposer is to effectively regard food scraps as liquid and use existing infrastructure (underground sewers and wastewater treatment plants) for its management. The idea worked and by the 1960s, 75 communities across the country even required disposers. Today, it is estimated that 50% of American households have garbage disposals.

Since its invention, people have tried putting just about everything down their kitchen sink. Some things obviously should not go down the drain but still do despite our best intentions, (like dropping a fork down the sink or a cat getting stuck in the disposal) but there are plenty of things that we put into the garbage disposal without realizing that it can be doing more harm than good.

To truly understand what our disposals can or can not handle, it helps to know how they work. The intention behind the invention has always been to help manage food waste by chopping it up into smaller bits and sending it out with waste plumbing.

So, back to the question at hand. Can you put spaghetti down the drain? You can, but it would not be wise. A small amount very infrequently shouldn’t have many lasting effects, but if you are dumping any type of starch, such as pasta, rice or even potatoes down your disposal on a regular basis or in large quantities you will soon be facing some issues. They have the potential to get stuck to the pipes or the disposal and after time will continue to expand and eventually clog the pipes.

What Shouldn’t Go in Your Garbage Disposal

Starch isn’t the only thing that you can have issues with. To keep it simple, here is a quick list of what you should not put into your garbage disposal:

  • Bones: Disposals are not strong enough to ground larger bones.
  • Eggshells: The thin membranes can get stuck around the blades of the shredder.
  • Paper towels: While they may get shredded, it is a potential pipe-clogging hazard.
  • Banana peels: The tough fibers have the potential of getting wrapped around the blades.
  • Nuts: Like putting peanuts in a blender, this will cause them to become sticky and could clog your pipes.
  • Onion skins or corn husks: Much like the banana, the tough fibers could get wrapped around the blades.
  • Paint: Latex or oil paint can cling to the disposal or pipes, harden and clog whatever it’s stuck to.
  • Grease: When you put hot oil down the drain, it eventually hardens, leading to clogs.
  • Coffee grounds: The grounds will become thick and pasty, and potentially clog the drain.

This is not a full and definitive list, and if you end up getting a small amount of anything on this list at your disposal, don’t panic. However, being aware of what you put into your disposal will surely lengthen the life of your disposal and help keep your pipes clean and clear.

Unfortunately, even if you avoid putting the wrong things into the disposal, you may come across the issue of your garbage disposal has a bad smell. The good news is there are very easy, chemical-free ways to clean your disposal.

Hot Water and Dish Soap to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

This simple technique just requires you to fill up your sink halfway with hot, soapy water and then drain it with your garbage disposal running.

Clean Your Garbage Disposal With Ice Cubes and Salt

A couple of handfuls of ice cubes mixed with a handful of salt creates a scrubbing action that can help clean off any stuck-on gunk. Just put them into the disposal and run it until clear.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Can Clear Out Your Garbage Disposal

Vinegar is a natural deodorizer. When it is mixed with baking soda, it creates an acid-base reaction that causes bubbling and sizzling that will help to clean the disposal and clear the drain. All you need for this is to pour half a cup of each into the drain, let it work its magic for 10 minutes, then run the disposal with hot water for about 30 seconds. (Note: Vinegar is acidic, and this can cause deterioration on the plastic parts of your disposal, so don’t do this too often!)

Lemon Peels for Deodorizing Your Garbage Disposal

This won’t clean the disposal, but it will help with any lingering odors. Cut the lemon peel into half-inch strips and put the strips into the drain, run hot water on low and turn on the disposal. Let the disposal run until you’ve stopped hearing any noise for 10-15 seconds.

If you’re having trouble with your garbage disposal, regardless of what you put down it, we can certainly help. From simple repairs to replacing with a new unit, we can do whatever you need to get the disposal running smooth.

Why Choose Heil

  • Years In Business
  • Customers Helped
  • Service

The Heil Difference

We’re dedicated to offering the highest quality residential and commercial plumbing services for every customer. Our plumbers are available to respond to your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our residential and commercial plumbers in Columbia and Ellicott City cover every need, from simple fixture repairs to complex drain and sewer problems.

While we are based in Jessup, Maryland, our plumbing contractors also service Catonsville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Odenton, Clarksville, Elkridge, Fulton, Laurel, and Severn.

Tips for Sewer Safe Landscaping

Your home’s drains are connected to the main sewer line that extends across your front yard. One risks your sewer faces is blockages caused by tree roots growing into cracks in the line. A failed sewer can end up in toilets that won’t flush, drains that are clogged, or even waste backing up into your home. This can cause a health hazard and an unpleasant cleanup for you and everyone involved.

No matter how much you enjoy your yard’s beautiful landscaping, if it adversely affects your home’s plumbing and sewer systems, you will want to change it around. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead, and make sure you plant sewer safe landscaping. Doing so will minimize your risk of needing sewer line repair or emergency plumbing in the future.

Follow these tips to avoid a future headache:

Know where your sewer line is located

You can find this information by checking with your local public works office. You will also know where your sewer line is if you can see the sewer cleanout is located in your front yard. Make sure you plant your trees at least 10 feet away (at minimum) from your sewer line to avoid root intrusion. Even if you plant a tree far away, roots in the top 18-24 inches of soil generally have a large horizontal spread.

Install root barriers

Municipalities install these to prevent roots from growing into sidewalks, but they don’t always install them around sewer lines. Generally, your home’s sewer line is your responsibility, so take it upon yourself to have root barriers or geotextiles installed, but contact your local public works department for more information.

Choose the right trees

While you can’t guarantee that a tree will not invade your sewer lines, you can choose trees that are less likely to do so. Choosing slow-growing trees with shallow root systems is your best options. Consider flowering dogwoods, crape myrtles, prairie crab apples, or golden rain trees, but avoid species with aggressive root systems or drought tolerant species like ash, poplars, locusts, oaks, and willows.

Plant trees in large pits with soil that drains well

Doing this will create a favorable rooting environment around the tree that discourages exploratory root spreading.

Consider removing trees that are fast growing

If you already have fast-growing species in your yard that are near 8-10 years of age, it may be time to remove them in order to avoid a sewer line repair.

Avoid Sewer Line Repairs in Columbia and the Surrounding Areas with the Right Landscaping

If you fear your sewer line may already be affected by your landscaping, we can help! Heil Plumbing offers sewer camera inspections in Howard County and beyond that can determine what and where your drain problem is. We’ll send a specialized camera into your sewer line so that there is no guesswork involved, resulting in a quick and cost-effective resolution.

Why Choose Heil

  • Years In Business
  • Customers Helped
  • Service

The Heil Difference

We’re dedicated to offering the highest quality residential and commercial plumbing services for every customer. Our plumbers are available to respond to your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our residential and commercial plumbers in Columbia and Ellicott City cover every need, from simple fixture repairs to complex drain and sewer problems.

While we are based in Jessup, Maryland, our plumbing contractors also service Catonsville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Odenton, Clarksville, Elkridge, Fulton, Laurel, and Severn.

Where Is My Main Water Shutoff Valve Located?

Knowing how and where to shut off your home’s main water shut off valve is crucial in case of a plumbing emergency. You might be surprised to find out that not many people actually know how to do that, or even what the main water shutoff valve actually does! Trust us, waiting until a plumbing emergency happens is not the time to figure it out. If there is a plumbing leak in your home and the fixture’s shutoff isn’t working, you’re going to need to turn off the water to your entire home! And that is why understanding what the main water shutoff valve does and where it is located can help you.

What Is the Main Shutoff Valve?

The main shutoff valve is used to turn off the water supply to your home for a variety of reasons. The main water shutoff valve, when turned on, supplies water to your home from the county connection. When the valve turns off it stops all the water from flowing through your pipes in your home. This valve sometimes needs to be turned off to do plumbing repairs around your home, such as replacing a faucet or water heater if the smaller service valves don’t work.

Locating Your Main Water Valve

While there are smaller shutoff valves in your home that will turn off the water in a particular room or for a specific plumbing fixture, such as your kitchen, bathroom, toiler, or sink, the main water shutoff will turn off the water coming into your entire home. If you’re looking for this valve, we recommend looking in your basement or lowest level of your house. When searching for the main shutoff valve, it is usually located at about waist level on the inside basement wall closest to your street or on an outside wall in a utility area of the house. The main water may have come through the concrete floor or through the wall and you can usually find the valve within 3-5 feet of where the main water enters your home.

There are two types of main shut off valves. A gate valve has a round handle that twists open and shut. To shut the water off, turn the knob to the right (clockwise). A ball valve has a lever that is turned 90 degrees. To turn the water off, turn the lever to the right so that it’s perpendicular to the pipe.

Need Emergency Plumbing Services in Maryland?

Whether you have a clogged drain, your basement is flooded, water is dripping through the ceiling, or you have an emergency that just can’t wait, you can count on us! Our technicians have the experience and expertise to get the job done. Heil Plumbing offers 24-hour emergency plumbing services at your home or business in Howard County, MD and surrounding areas.

Why Choose Heil

  • Years In Business
  • Customers Helped
  • Service

The Heil Difference

We’re dedicated to offering the highest quality residential and commercial plumbing services for every customer. Our plumbers are available to respond to your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our residential and commercial plumbers in Columbia and Ellicott City cover every need, from simple fixture repairs to complex drain and sewer problems.

While we are based in Jessup, Maryland, our plumbing contractors also service Catonsville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Odenton, Clarksville, Elkridge, Fulton, Laurel, and Severn.

Can I Flush Wipes Down the Toilet? 4 Problems Wipes Can Cause in Your Sewer Line or Septic System

You’ve probably seen those wipes in stores that say “flushable,” “sewer safe,” or “septic safe”. These companies claim that their products are convenient and you can simply toss them in the toilet. But you may want to think twice before you flush those wipes.

The dirty truth is that wipes can easily clog up your sewer line and cause problems in your septic system. Wipes do not disintegrate and break down in water the way toilet paper does. Therefore, Heil Plumbing recommends throwing wipes in the trash rather down flushing them down the toilet.

4 Problems Wipes Can Cause in Your Sewer Line or Septic System

  1. Because wipes do not break down as fast as toilet paper, they may ball up and clog your plumbing.

  2. Wipes may get caught on tree roots that have crept into cracks of an old sewer line.

  3. Wipes can build up at the inlet of the septic tank and cause the septic to back up into the house.

  4. Wipes may collect in sagging or flat sections of your sewer line. A flat spot, sag or belly is where your sewer line does not properly slope downward from your house to the county connection.

If you suspect that you have an issue with your sewer, a licensed plumber can send a camera down your line to locate the problem.

The Heil Difference

We’re dedicated to offering the highest quality residential and commercial plumbing services for every customer. Our plumbers are available to respond to your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our residential and commercial plumbers in Columbia and Ellicott City cover every need, from simple fixture repairs to complex drain and sewer problems.

While we are based in Jessup, Maryland, our plumbing contractors also service Catonsville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Odenton, Clarksville, Elkridge, Fulton, Laurel, and Severn.

Got A Leak – Water – Gas – Sewage?

Leaks can be a bit of a nuisance and a little tough to find at times.  Leaks can show up a little at a time leaving ugly stains on your ceiling or they can cause a lot of damage at one time. Let one of our professionals come out and locate your leak and make the necessary repair or make suggestions on how to handle your situation whether it’s a water leak, gas leak or even a sewage leak.  If you smell gas in or around your home you should call your local fire department or gas company right away.  A gas leak is nothing to mess around with.  The gas company will determine if there is a leak and then you can contact us and we will come out and make the necessary repairs.

The Heil Difference

We’re dedicated to offering the highest quality residential and commercial plumbing services for every customer. Our plumbers are available to respond to your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our residential and commercial plumbers in Columbia and Ellicott City cover every need, from simple fixture repairs to complex drain and sewer problems.

While we are based in Jessup, Maryland, our plumbing contractors also service Catonsville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Odenton, Clarksville, Elkridge, Fulton, Laurel, and Severn.