Keeping Your Garbage Disposal Happy this Holiday Season

While the holiday season means extra days off for many people, your Hagerstown plumbers are working overtime. In fact, Black Friday was one of the busiest days of the year for plumbers across the country because of clogged sinks and garbage disposals, and we expect to remain pretty busy throughout the holiday season. Days when family and friends gather under one roof – like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – we experience a huge increase in plumbing repair calls.

This holiday season, we’re sure the last thing you want is a visit from us. That’s why we decided to put together this helpful guide to keeping your garbage disposal happy this holiday season and avoiding breakdowns.

About Your Garbage DisposalHagerstown Garbage Disposal Repair

Let’s start with the basics. A lot of people simply don’t know how to properly use a garbage disposal simply because of the name. “Garbage” implies that anything you don’t want can be tossed in the disposal, but this simply isn’t true. Your garbage disposal is actually more sensitive than you probably think.

While some things, like silverware, obviously should never be thrown down the drain, other seemingly-harmless things are no-nos too.

Garbage Disposal Don’ts

Grease, Fat and Oil

Grease and liquid fats should never go down the drain. As it cools, it hardens in your drain, causing nasty blockages.

Stringy and Starchy Vegetables

Carrots, corn husks, celery, asparagus, lettuce and potato peels don’t belong in the garbage disposal. They can easily become wrapped around the blade, diminishing its effectiveness and clogging the drain.

Rice and Pasta

Pasta and rise absorb water, expanding over time. This can form a pasty substance and block the trap.

Egg Shells

Because of the thin membrane inside, egg shells shouldn’t be put in the garbage disposal. This membrane can wrap around the blade.

Fruit Pits

Fruit pits – such as those from peaches, apricots and avocados – don’t break down in the garbage disposal. Instead, they just cause damage to the blade.

Large Bones

Garbage disposals simply are not powerful enough to break down large bones. However, tiny fish or chicken bones are fine and can help clean the inner walls of the disposal.

Non-Food Objects

If it isn’t food, it has no business in your garbage disposal. Plants, flower stems, twist ties, sponges, cigarettes and all other non-food items should always go in the trash can – not your garbage disposal! They don’t break down like food items, and they can cause serious damage.

Garbage Disposal Dos

Cold Water

Run cold water while using your garbage disposal and for a few seconds after. This helps flush debris from the disposal and hardens fats and oils to prevent them from sticking to your pipes.

Professional Installation and Repair

For optimum performance and safety, you should always trust a professional when it comes to installing and repairing garbage disposals.


Never forget about safety when operating your garbage disposal. Never put your hand down the disposal unit, even when it’s turned off.

Garbage Disposal Repair in Hagerstown

Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid major problems with your garbage disposal this holiday season. If, however, you do find yourself in need of garbage disposal repair in Hagerstown or the surrounding areas, Larry & Sons can help. Call 301-733-5428.

How to Unclog a Bathroom Sink

Is your bathroom sink putting a “drain” on you and your routine? Don’t want to spend a lot of money on a plumber? Depending on the seriousness of your drain, you’ll be able to fix most sink clogs in fifteen minutes or less.

Unclog Bathroom Sink

For bathroom sinks with stoppers, we’ve found that the stopper is often the cause of the clog. The pop-up stopper creates a perfect obstruction area for hair and other material to get trapped.

Before your bathroom clog turns into a cesspool, learn how to fix a slow-draining bathroom sink by taking out and cleaning the pop-up stopper. It involves getting a little dirty, so get your rubber gloves out, and these other items:

Materials – rubber gloves, bent wire hanger, bucket/container (to catch excess water), and pliers (if necessary)

Clear Bathroom Drain

Source: diy.stackexchange


Clean out everything underneath your sink so that you can access the piping area. Place a container underneath the piping. After everything is clear for you to work, you’re going to need to disconnect the pop-up stopper mechanism. Let’s take a look!


Before getting underneath the sink, raise the stopper lever fully so that the stopper is all the way closed and sealed. Underneath the sink, behind the main pipe running from your sink, you can see where the pop-up stopper mechanism is connected. It is a horizontal pivot rod that is connected to the clevis strap (has many holes in it for height adjustments).

Disconnect the metal arm (or clevis strap) by bending the small piece of metal (spring clip) holding it in place. The spring clip keeps the clevis strap in place and allows you to adjust the height of your stopper mechanism.


After freeing the pivot rod from the clevis strap, you can loosen the pivot rod from the pipe with your hand. If you can’t do it by hand, then a pair of pliers should do the trick. Stick a pan/bucket/tupperware underneath the pipes so that when you unscrew the pivot rod with the ball seal at the end (hidden in the pipe area) water will fall into your container and not all over the cabinet/floor.

After disconnecting the pivot rod, the plastic pop-up stopper should be free to pull out, allowing you to pull it up and out of the sink. But before you pull the stopper out, put on your rubber gloves, because it is about to get gross. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Pull the stopper out and clean it off in a different sink. Do NOT turn on the sink you are unclogging! Clean all parts with rubbing alcohol or a bleach solution. Put the clean stopper aside as you grab your metal hanger and bend it into a hook shape. Get deep inside the pipe with the hanger and pull out as much gunk as you can. You can use an old toothbrush to clean the sides of the pipe.

You might also be able to pull some hair gunk through the hole where you took the pivot rod from. If you think that there is a clog in the P-bend of the pipe, you can go ahead and unscrew the P-bend and clear out any obstructions that might be there; however, simply cleaning out the stopper will fix most bathroom sink clogs.

You can also remove the P-bend if you prefer to remove the clog down through the pipe instead of up and out through the sink bowl.


Put everything back together again. After reassembling all of the pieces, while you are down there, inspect everything for leaks and corrosion.

If you notice a problem much bigger than a mere sink stopper clog, call Larry & Sons at (301) 733-5428!

If you are looking for a versatile, natural, and economical drain cleaner solution, we recommend using Bio-Clean. A combination of bacteria and enzymes work together to break down and digest materials in your drains and pipes. Call us for more information!

Don’t forget to check out our maintenance plan; we provide fall and spring HVAC tune-ups, provide 15 % off all repairs, and much more!

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more useful information and how-to’s.

Ask a Plumber in Martinsburg, WV: What is a Drain Auger?

You probably know a drain auger by its more common name, a “drain snake.” It’s one of the most commonly used tools in the plumber’s arsenal, employed to unclog stubborn drains of all varieties. Plumbers in Martinsburg, WV face all manner of problems, from broken water heaters to sump pump installation. But drain augers remain a staple of their profession, and any plumber worth his salt makes sure he carries one close at hand.

The auger works by driving the bristle front end into the source of the clog. It acts like a corkscrew in a wine bottle, giving the plumber a solid grip on the offending material so that he can pull it out safely. In some cases, the snake can break up the source of the clog, allowing it to pass through the piping and out of the system safely. If the clog has attached itself to the sides of the pipe, the auger can scrape it off safely and again allow it to be flushed out of the pipes.

You may have a smaller drain auger of your own, which is useful for clearing up mild clogs. Professional plumbers will use mechanical augers that use motorized power and often have exchangeable tips in order to correctly treat different clogs. That variation is one of the reasons why it pays to consult an expert when dealing with a clogged drain. An improperly deployed drain auger can damage your piping system and turn a minor problem into a major one extremely quickly. A professional plumber can not only use a drain auger safely, but he can likely identify the exact cause of the clog and use the auger appropriately to clear it up.

If you’re experiencing a clogged drain in your kitchen or bathroom, contact Larry & Sons to handle the issue. We cover plumbing issues of all varieties in Martinsburg, WV, and can handle your clogs with the utmost professionalism and courtesy.