Garbage Disposal Care and Maintenance

Care and Maintenance of Garbage Disposals

The unsung hero of the kitchen has got to be the humble garbage disposal.  This unseen little appliance is either convenient and helpful or a stinky, malfunctioning, expensive-to-repair disaster.  The most important thing to remember is that the garbage disposal’s best friend or worst enemy is the same person – you, the user.

Garbage Disposal – Helpful and Harmful Habits

It’s never too late to start establishing good garbage disposal habits.  What you feed into yours can make it or break it – literally.


Some of this may seem like common sense, but after more than 25 years doing

food waste disposal unite

Food Waste Disposal Unit

residential appliance repairs…. well, you get the idea.

  • No metal (including aluminum foil), plastic, glass, Styrofoam, paper, cigarettes or large bones.
  • No coffee grounds (They do help eliminate odour and don’t hurt the blades BUT they stick to residual grease and can accumulate eventually causing a clog.).
  • No caustic or flammable compounds (including bleach and drain cleaner).
  • No stringy foods such as celery, artichokes, corn husks, rhubarb, or asparagus.  They can wrap around the blades and burn out the motor, as well as cause clogging.
  • Intersperse potato peelings with other foods to avoid starch building up into a paste that can gum up the blades.
  • No foods such as rice, pasta, or oatmeal that will swell with moisture and cause clogs.
  • No fatty foods, oil or grease. Lipids accumulate inside the garbage disposal and drains and cause clogging.
  • Feed the garbage disposal a bit at a time; never try to cram large amounts in at once. Run cold water throughout to help food scraps move through the plumbing.
  • No hot water when grinding food. It causes any stray grease to liquefy and stick to the side of the disposal and plumbing which results in clogs.
  • Don’t turn off the disposal or water until you have finished grinding.  When grinding is complete, turn off the garbage disposal.  Leave the water running for at least 20 seconds to flush out any remaining food particles and then turn it off.
  • Never try to retrieve a foreign object from your garbage disposal with your hand, use long needle nosed pliers.  If the object has gotten lodged in the blades, it’s best to call in a professional rather than risk damaging the blades.



  • Use it or you’ll lose it.  Run your garbage disposal regularly to prevent rust and corrosion and to keep moving parts moving.
  • Grind hard food scraps such as fine chicken and fish bones, squash skins and egg shells.  These hard food particles act like a sand blaster on the inside of your garbage disposal keeping it clean and free of build-up.
  • Feed the garbage disposal a bit at a time.  Cut large food scraps down to a manageable size.
  • Grinding grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime peelings is an excellent way to keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh.
  • Use a steady flow of cold water when grinding scraps.  Cold water causes fats to solidify and be carried away with other food debris.  Hot water liquefies fat which then gets “painted” onto the inside of plumbing one layer at a time eventually accumulating into a clog.
  • Grinding a few ice cubes every month is an excellent maintenance tool for your garbage disposal.  It sharpens blades, scours the inside dislodging accumulated build-up, and it is very inexpensive.
  • Do the same ice cube trick but substitute frozen vinegar or lemon juice cubes for water.  The same mechanical effect is achieved with the added bonus of killing odour-causing bacteria.
  • Commercial products such as Affresh Dishwasher and Disposal Cleaner are also effective at keeping your garbage disposal clean and fresh.

Notwithstanding the possibility of a manufacturer’s defect or normal wear and tear, many garbage disposal problems you can prevent on your own with proper care and maintenance.  When it comes to garbage disposals, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure!

food waste disposal unit

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Gord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience.  Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.


Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor Kitchens – Perfect for Calgary

There is no doubt about it, we Albertans covet our summers.  After enduring what can be 6 solid months of winter, and a month of iffy weather on either end, most of us are desperate for summer.  Alas, our beloved summer makes a brief appearance and all too soon the leaves begin to fall.  Once again summer has left us wanting more.  It is not surprising that outdoor kitchens have become so popular in the Calgary area.  More than just a new trend in home design, outdoor kitchens are very practical.  They allow you to maximize your enjoyment of summer and can even help you to extend it beyond Mother Nature’s parameters.

Along with extending your summer, outdoor kitchens also extend your useable living

outdoor kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen

space.  Never again must you miss half of a gathering running in and out for stray condiments and cutlery or whatever else you need from the kitchen.  Outdoor kitchens can be fully outfitted so that you are entertaining in a self-contained unit and the clean-up can be as easy as a quick hosing off.  When it comes to outdoor kitchens, the sky is the limit – literally.

Outdoor Refrigerators, Refrigerated Drawers, Warming Drawers, Grills, Ice Makers, Wine Coolers

Gone are the days of a simple stand-alone BBQ.  Manufacturers of kitchen appliances have gotten in on the action and are now producing outdoor kitchen appliances.  Sub-Zero, Wolf and Viking for example, carry an entire outdoor kitchen series, complete with under-counter refrigerator, ice machine, refrigerated drawers, grills, burners, warming drawers, storage drawers and cabinets.  All constructed with high grade, corrosion-resistant stainless steel.  Viking states that their outdoor kitchen appliances are built to withstand harsh outdoor conditions and have been tested and certified for outdoor use.

For those with generous budgets there are contractors who specialize in outdoor kitchens and can design something complete with landscaping to go with your home’s exterior.  Usually outdoor kitchens are constructed with all-weather materials for durability and a natural looking esthetic, as well as easy clean-up and maintenance. The addition of a natural gas fireplace can help stave off that autumn chill so you can enjoy your outdoor kitchen longer.

A modest budget doesn’t mean the end of your outdoor kitchen dreams, it just necessitates a more thoughtful approach.  Start by laying the ground work such as the deck or patio and then add what you can every year.  Be sure to run any electricity or gas lines that you are going to want for any future appliances so that you don’t have to dig or rip anything up later.  A rolling cart and a BBQ are an inexpensive way to begin outfitting your outdoor kitchen.  Because they are built to withstand the elements, outdoor versions of refrigerators, ice makers, wine coolers, warming drawers, grills and burners are more expensive than their indoor counterparts, so keep your eyes open for sales and be patient.  Don’t wait until you have your dream kitchen outdoors, make the most of what you have right now and add your outdoor kitchen appliances as you are able.

outdoor kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen


Gord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience.  Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.

Cleaning Ovens

Conventional, Self-Cleaning, Continuous-Cleaning & Steam-Cleaning Ovens

Apart from price, brand, style and functionality, any serious discussion about a new oven/range must include the important issue of cleaning ovens. While it may not be particularly glamorous , the issue of cleaning ovens should impact your decision just as much, if not more than other considerations.

The Conventional or Traditional Oven/Range

There are traditionalists out there who still prefer to clean their oven the old-fashioned way. (Yes, such people really do exist!) However, most people I know consider the task

cleaning oven

Cleaning an oven with a microfibre cloth.

loathsome. Cleaning a heavily soiled oven is an arduous task because it involves the use of caustic chemicals that can damage floors and skin if proper precautions aren’t taken. These same chemicals are necessarily inhaled to a certain extent and awkward and uncomfortable physical positioning must be assumed to apply and remove the cleaner. On the plus side, the conventional oven is less expensive than its self-cleaning or continuous-cleaning counterpart. The high heat employed by a self-cleaning oven necessitates the use of more insulation and the locking mechanism used to keep the door shut until the high heat has dissipated both make a self cleaning oven more expensive to construct. If price is your main factor then a simple conventional oven may be the most advantageous choice.

Self-Cleaning Ovens

Self-cleaning ovens use high temperatures in excess of 900 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce baked-on spills and debris to ash. It is this excessive heat which is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to a self-cleaning oven. While the cleaning results are excellent, some newer electric ranges, unlike older ovens, have concealed elements above the oven ceiling and underneath the oven floor. On one hand, these concealed heating elements are superior because they prevent spills from landing directing on the element and filling the oven, as well as your kitchen, with smoke. On the other hand, it is more difficult to vent the high heat associated with the cleaning cycle away from the concealed heating element. The result is a more frequent popping of fuses and burned out control panels. More service calls may be required and, because the heating elements are more difficult to access, service calls are more labour intensive and expensive.

Continuous-Cleaning Ovens

The oven walls of both traditional and self-cleaning ranges are coated with heat and acid-resistant porcelain enamel. The continuous-cleaning oven, also known as a catalytic self-cleaning oven, has walls coated with a finish which acts as an oxidation catalyst. The idea of the continuous-cleaning oven is to eliminate small splatters as they happen. The finish on the oven wall is designed to absorb and spread splatters so that cleaning is done at normal cooking temperature while cooking occurs. Larger spills however must be wiped up or they can burn and stain the finish. The continuous-cleaning oven never went over very well in North America as not everyone was pleased with the efficacy of the cleaning and the models tended to be more expensive. At present only one German Appliance brand markets a continuous-cleaning oven in Canada.

Steam-Cleaning Ovens

A relatively new and exciting innovation in self-cleaning ovens is the version that uses steam as opposed to high temperatures. Not to be confused with a steam oven – an oven which cooks your food with the use of steam – steam-cleaning ovens are lined with a non-stick coating, much like a non-stick ceramic frying pan. About a cup and a half of water is poured into the built-in basin in the floor of the oven. The oven goes on for less than an hour on low heat and voilá, soil wipes away. While steam-cleaning ovens are pricier than ovens without this cycle, most people seem very pleased with them noting the added cost is minimal when the benefits are factored in.

The high temperature self-cleaning oven, traditional range, continuous-cleaning oven, and steam-cleaning oven all have inherent advantages as well as disadvantages.  Since everyone’s priorities are different when it comes to kitchen appliances and oven technology continues to advance, it would be good to get the readership to weigh in on this topic.  What are your oven cleaning experiences as they relate to the various technologies?

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Gord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience.

Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.

Dryer Maintenance

Dryer Maintenance and Care

While most people outside of Canada and the United States live without a clothes dryer, most of us can’t imagine life without the convenience of a dryer. Because most of us own a dryer, it is a good idea to know how to care and maintain one. Improper dryer maintenance can result in increased energy consumption, decreased dryer efficiency and even the risk of fire.

Dryer Maintenance  - Cleaning of the lint trap.

Dryer Maintenance – Cleaning of the lint trap.

The first place to start is the lint trap on your dryer. It is of paramount importance that this lint trap be cleaned out prior to every usage. In fact, clothing or towels that are highly lint producing may even necessitate cleaning of the lint trap half way through the cycle. The less lint in the trap, the more efficiently your dryer will operate. Periodically use the crevice tool of your vacuum cleaner to vacuum out the area that houses the lint trap as some lint will accumulate there as well. If you are in the practice of using dryer sheets regularly, wash your lint screen once a month with boiling water and ammonia or a multi-purpose cleaner. Dryer sheets leave a build-up of tallow on the lint screen which will impede the flow of air. Keeping air flowing freely increases your dryer’s efficiency.

Next, examine your dryer’s duct system to ensure there are no blockages or crimping. It is a good idea to remove the exhaust duct once a year and clean it out. If your dryer’s duct is plastic, please have it replaced immediately with aluminium  Plastic ducts on dryers are not code compliant. Also check the exhaust vent louvre located on the exterior of your house to be sure that none of the moving parts has seized shut and remove lint and stray debris.

Be sure your dryer is plugged into the appropriate receptacle – never use extension cords on appliances. Finally, while proper maintenance greatly reduces the risk of fire, no appliance is 100% infallible so it is always best to operate a dryer when someone is at home. Good dryer maintenance and care not only makes for a safer dryer, it also extends its life and helps it to operate optimally.

Gord's Appliance Logo
Gord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience.

Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.