Q&A / 

Stinky Garbage Disposal and LED Bulbs that Flicker

LEB Bulb

This is a LED bulb that fits into a recessed light fixture. It can become an annoying strobe light in your home. (C) Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Stinky Garbage Disposal

Question #1: Tim, no matter what I do, my garbage disposal has a foul stink in it. It’s disgusting. What’s causing it and most importantly how can I get rid of the odor? Once the offensive odor is gone, is there some magic way to ensure it never comes back? Susanne W., Tacoma, WA

You may be one that suffers like Susanne. Smelly garbage disposals in kitchens are more common than you might think. A large number of homeowners reach out to me on a routine basis with the identical problem.

The odor in the disposal comes from rotting food. Your garbage disposal is a machine that grinds up food into a slurry. This slurry coats the inside of the cylinder chamber that contains the spinning grinding teeth.

If you have a disposer that smells like Susanne’s, then you’re not removing all of the sludge from the insides of the disposal each time you use it. What’s more, you could be creating clogs in your plumbing drain lines by the misuse of the disposal because you’re not fully rinsing out the disposal with enough water after each use to carry the sludge out to the city sewer or your septic tank.

Cleaning the disposal is not too hard, but it takes a few steps. You need to re-hydrate any dried food slurry on the side walls of the disposal. You do this by installing the stopper in the large hole at the bottom of the sink. Fill up the sink 1/3 or 1/2-way with warm water.

Leave the faucet water running, pull the stopper out and immediately switch on the disposal. The spinning grinders create a vortex of water in the disposal getting all surfaces nice and wet. Wait 20 minutes and repeat this process. The softer the dried food becomes, the cleaner the disposal will be after the final step of the cleaning process.

Wait another 20 minutes and repeat the process but this time before you switch on the disposal squirt into the water a 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap. Squirt more soap into the disposal as the water runs from the faucet so you create a spinning slurry of soap suds in the disposal.

Adjust the water flow from the faucet to a trickle so the soap suds slurry comes to the top of the disposal. Add more soap if necessary. Keep the disposal on allowing the slurry to scour the inside of the disposal.

Turn off the disposal after 30 or 45 seconds and then rinse away all the soap. To prevent future odor, you need to fully rinse the disposal after each use. Each time you finish grinding up food, fill the sink 1/2-way with clear water. Pull the stopper and turn on the disposal to spin the rinse water around the insides of the machine. This large amount of water helps flush out all the drain pipes preventing future clogs.

I’ve got great a great video for you at my AsktheBuilder.com website showing exactly how to use liquid dish soap to clean a disposal. Just go to Smelly Disposal

LED Bulbs that Flicker

Question #2: Help me Tim! I feel like I’m going to have a seizure at my home. I’ve tried three different LED bulbs in my home and all of them flicker. I’m convinced I’m getting bad bulbs, and the people at the store are being patient. Why are my LED bulbs flickering? Do you think the bulbs are bad or is it some other sinister problem in my electrical system and my house might catch on fire? Brad G., Tulsa, OK

You’d be stunned by the number of people that have the same flickering light problem as Brad does in his home. Guess what? It’s almost never the bulb. LED bulbs, for the most part, are very reliable and create consistent non-flickering light when they get a uniform current flowing through the bulb.

LED bulb flickering can be traced in almost every instance to a non-compatible dimmer switch in the lighting circuit. Modern dimmer switches create the dimming effect by switching the power supply on and off many times per second. Traditional incandescent bulbs have a glowing white-hot piece of metal that creates the light. When the dimmer switches the power on and off the glowing metal starts to cool down and the net result is the light dims. There’s no flickering.

LED bulbs don’t have glowing filaments. When the dimmer switch goes off and on many times per second, the LEB bulb becomes a flickering strobe light. In rare cases, the flickering can be some other power supply issue in case you don’t have dimmer switches. Contact your utility company in this case.

Some switch manufacturers make dimmer switches they claim to work well with LED bulbs. It’s easy to switch out a dimmer switch and this simple project might prevent you and Brad from having a seizure!

I’ve got a great video about flickering LED bulbs and a current list of dimmer switches that work with LED bulbs at my website. Go to Flickering LED Lights


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