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Maintenance DIY: Decomposed Granite and Garbage Disposals

A maintenance professional working on a dishwasher.
December 2019

Q: I want to create a seating and relaxation area in the middle of my building’s courtyard. My idea is to use decomposed granite (DG) and eliminate the current grass area. How should I go about installing the surface without making a mess or creating a future headache for myself?

A: Decomposed granite, DG for short, is a great way to add a durable, natural and water-wise surface. A few things to know before you start: the key word in DG is “decomposed.” In other words, this granite is decomposing. There are three options: Raw DG for flower beds, stabilized DG for walkways and resin-coated DG for driveways. For your purpose, you need to use a stabilized DG for walkways. It has a binder mixed into the DG. Non-stabilized DG is much cheaper, but it will of course decompose, create dust when dry and slush when wet. To properly install DG, dig three inches overall and use a wood, rock or brick border to keep the edges of the DG from crumbling. As an option, lay a weed barrier cloth under the DG. Apply DG in 1.5-inch layers, water down (don’t flood it) and tamp or use a heavy roller to compress the DG. Wait eight hours between layers to let the DG settle. Repeat the above steps for each subsequent layer. When properly installed, the DG surface will be rock hard, stable, dust-free and will allow water to drain.

Q: I have a resident who complains that his garbage disposal smells. I have tried running lemon slices and ice cubes to clean the disposal unit. It works for a short time, but the smell returns. Any suggestions?

A: The smell may come from a variety of places.

  1. The first and easiest thing to check is the rubber splash guard that prevents items from falling into the disposal. Remove the rubber splash guard and turn it inside out. Clean out the debris that has collected and wash with soap and water.
  2. Use a small, toilet-type brush with soap and scrub the inside of the garbage disposal. This will remove slime build-up. (For safety reasons, shut the garbage disposal off at the breaker or pull the plug.)
  3. Remove the drain trap and remove any sludge. The horizontal pipe between the trap and the wall often will have hard deposits coating the inside of the pipe. The deposits will collect food and debris that may considerably slow the drains.
  4. If you have a dishwasher, check the drain line leading from the air-gap or dishwasher to the garbage disposal. It may be full of sludge, which could cause bad smells to come through the air-gap located next to the faucet. Clean or replace any pipes with deposits or sludge. Check both drain lines for the above problems.
  5. Now, if you wish, run the garbage disposal with a few slices of lemon and it should smell good and stay that way. Occasionally throw ice cubes in the garbage disposal unit to help scrape away any debris.

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