why does my sink only drain when i turn on the garbage disposal?

2November 2023

Why Does My Sink Only Drain When I Turn On The Garbage Disposal? 

When you’re cleaning up after a meal, the last thing you want to see is a sink full of water refusing to drain. The mysterious part?

It suddenly and magically drains when you switch on the garbage disposal! It’s a common plumbing puzzle that many homeowners encounter, but what exactly causes it?

Let’s delve into this watery mystery and uncover the reasons behind this peculiar behavior.

1. Clogs in the P-Trap or Disposal Line

The most common reason for this issue is a blockage in the P-trap (the U-shaped pipe under your sink) or the line leading from the garbage disposal to the main drain. When you turn on the disposal, the force it generates can dislodge smaller bits of the clog, allowing water to pass through momentarily.

2. Poor Installation or Design

If the garbage disposal and drainage systems aren’t installed at the correct slope or height, it can lead to inefficient drainage. When you turn on the disposal, the force helps push water past any design flaws.

3. Lack of Water Flow

Garbage disposals work best with a strong flow of water to help move debris down the drain. If you’re not using enough water when operating the disposal, food waste can accumulate in the pipes, causing blockages that prevent the sink from draining.

4. Damaged Blades

The blades inside your garbage disposal may be dulled or damaged. This means they’re not effectively grinding up food waste, leading to clumps that block the drain. Turning on the disposal causes the blades to rotate, momentarily clearing the blockage.

5. Faulty Flapper

The flapper (or splash guard) in your garbage disposal might not be functioning properly. This rubber piece not only stops food particles from flying out but also ensures waste goes down efficiently. If it’s damaged or stuck, water might not drain unless the disposal is running.

6. Improper Use

Overloading the garbage disposal with too much food waste or disposing of items that aren’t easily breakable can lead to blockages. It’s essential to be mindful of what and how much you’re putting at your disposal.

Tips to Prevent Drainage Issues:

  1. Run Cold Water: Always run cold water when operating your garbage disposal. This solidifies any fats or greases, making it easier for the disposal to break them down.
  2. Avoid Fibrous Foods: Foods like celery, banana peels, and potato skins can wrap around the blades and cause clogs.
  3. Clean Regularly: Clean your garbage disposal regularly using ice cubes, which can help sharpen the blades, and a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clear out any gunk.
  4. Seek Professional Help: If you’ve tried multiple methods and the issue persists, consider seeking assistance from a professional plumber.

In conclusion, if your sink is holding water hostage until the garbage disposal is turned on, the chances are there’s an underlying issue with your plumbing system or the disposal itself. Understanding the potential reasons and addressing them promptly will ensure a smoothly operating kitchen sink, free from unexpected blockages and surprises!

Remember, always treat your kitchen plumbing systems with care and respect, and they’ll serve you efficiently for years to come.