Service Q&A: Richard Smith, general manager, Cooking Equipment Specialists, Mesquite, Texas
FE&S: How can operators keep disposers running smoothly?
RS: The most important thing is to make sure the appropriate food waste is being disposed of in these systems. Items like potato skins build a layer inside the unit and can dull the blades quicker. This also turns into a paste that drags motors down. Also, the higher the horsepower, the more volume the disposer can handle. It also helps to start and stop the unit as much as possible since the blades go in different directions when power is interrupted.
FE&S: What is a common misconception about commercial disposers?
RS: There are many people that think disposers have blades that spin, but this isn’t the case. These units use two weighted pieces on a spinning disk that throws food onto blades at the sides of the machine. Putting inappropriate food waste down disposers can clog the drain and grease trap, which is difficult to empty out.
FE&S: What planned maintenance should be performed on these units?
RS: All disposers are sealed, so there is no way to physically oil the unit. Operators should make sure the contactors on the control box are tight so there’s good contact. Also, making sure high volumes of food waste aren’t thrown in all at once and plenty of water is used for flushing the system during operation will help extend the unit’s service life.
FE&S: What are the signs a disposer is not working properly?
RS: If the grinding becomes really loud, this could signify the bearings are bad. Also, leaking out of the disposer’s bottom means the shaft seal is compromised. Typically, this will take out the motor but not always.