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Garbage Disposal Buying Guide

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To get rid of food-based garbage in the most efficient way possible, your kitchen sink should include a garbage disposal. Installing a garbage disposal adds convenience to your home, as you can safely flush away leftover food residue, vegetable peels, and more. Yet purchasing a garbage disposal for your home can be confusing. Feed type, power level, capacity, and several other factors should be considered when buying. Read through this buying guide to understand everything there is to know about purchasing a garbage disposal for your home.

Which feed type will be best in your kitchen?

  • Continuous feed models turn on and off with a wall power switch, usually located near the sink.
  • Batch feed models turn on and off when the disposal lid is engaged. Typically, larger disposer casing means the unit has more insulation, which makes it quieter. These are also much safer when young children are in the kitchen.

How much power does your disposal need?

How much power does your disposal need?
  • A single person or small family that uses the kitchen infrequently can get by with a disposal with as little as 1/3 horsepower as long as they are only grinding a small amount of food waste, such as vegetable skins, etc.
  • A solid middle ground is a disposal with 1/2 horsepower.
  • A typical household that frequently prepares food needs a minimum of 3/4 to 1 horsepower for it to operate quickly and efficiently.
  • Those who need a disposal that can handle hard-to-grind waste, such as fibrous materials and large bones, may need to seek out a stronger motor.
  • Make sure the power level of the garbage disposal matches your household's needs. Too little horsepower will cause the disposal to operate incorrectly or at a lower efficiency; too much horsepower can cause your sink, as well as the surrounding cabinets and countertop, to vibrate.

Features & Other Things to Consider When Shopping

Feature Things to Consider
Sink Style Some disposals will not fit correctly on certain sink styles. Make sure you check the model specifications to see if there are any limitations.
Ease of Installation Certain models, based on their size, mount system, and other factors, are easier to install in your kitchen sink.
Quiet Operation This feature can be important when the kitchen is in close proximity to other parts of the home where people may be relaxing or sleeping. Some advanced disposal models have measures to reduce noise. These may include sound insulation or sound reduction technology.
Durability Disposal units made of plastic polymer chambers resist rusting and corrosion. Galvanized steel is also used on some units. Although it is more durable than plastic, it is susceptible to rust and can corrode over time. Stainless steel is durable; it resists rust and corrosion, and will prolong the life of your garbage disposal.
Removable Splash Guard Splash guards are what keep water and the materials you are grinding up from splashing up and out of your sink while the garbage disposal is in use. Removable splash guards are easier to replace when they wear out. Accessory splash guards, which are placed in the mouth of the sink rather than within the disposal itself, may also be purchased.
Grind Capacity This refers to the physical size of the interior of the unit. Larger capacity garbage disposals are able to process more waste at once and are great for large families who use the kitchen frequently.
Grind Stages While most garbage disposals are 1-stage grinders, 2- and 3-stage grinders are available. These grind the waste multiple times, virtually liquefying the materials. Multiple stage grinders allow you to grind fibrous and hard waste with little or no chance of clogging or jamming the disposal and pipes.
Anti-Jamming or Jam-Resistant Features Models with this feature can avoid simple jams that occur with daily use. Some models reverse blade direction automatically. Others have a manual button or include a hex wrench to change blade direction.
Overload Protection Some models include a safety feature which automatically turns off the motor if the disposal begins to overheat.
Dishwasher Drain Connection Some disposals offer the feature of hooking up to the dishwasher to grind up food particles and avoid having to prewash dishes.
Power Cord vs. Direct Wire Connection Take note of what type of connection the garbage disposal you are purchasing requires. Disposals that have to be plugged in may sometimes have a power cord included with your purchase.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I run hot or cold water when using my garbage disposal?

A: Always use cold water. First, it is better for the environment since you waste no energy in heating up the water. Secondly, cold water allows the waste to be washed away more thoroughly. For best results, you should leave the water running for 10-15 seconds after you shut off the disposal.

Q: How do I clean my garbage disposal unit?

A: There are many commercial chemical cleaning products available to use with your garbage disposal. If you want a more natural solution, you can grind ice cubes and a lemon for a fresh, clean scent.

Q: Can I put fibrous items like celery and hard materials like bones down my garbage disposal?

A: Yes. But you need to be careful about how much of this material you put in the disposal at once. Too much can cause jams and will clog your drain. Multiple stage grinders are better suited with handling these kinds of waste.

Q: Are there any food items I should not put down my disposal?

A: Yes! Never pour grease or fat down the garbage disposal. It can build up in the drain and cause clogs and other obstructions.

Q: Are garbage disposals safe to use with septic systems?

A. Yes. Most disposals are safe to use with a properly maintained septic system. Disposals create more residue and increase water consumption for your septic tank. As a result, more frequent cleaning of the tank may be required. Grinding tobacco in your disposal should be avoided, since it interferes with bacteria in the tank. Shellfish do not decompose in the tank, so these should be disposed of by normal means, such as throwing them away in the trash can. There are units available which are specifically designed for septic tanks. These inject a small amount of microbes into the chamber with the waste to further break it down.