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Garbage Disposals

Buying Guide: Garbage Disposals

Eliminate Kitchen Waste

An easy way to reduce the amount of food waste in your home is to install a garbage disposal. Quickly and efficiently eliminating leftover potato peels, fruit rinds and many other types of food waste, the disposal grinds it all into fine particles that are flushed out of the chamber and into the septic system.

 As you shop for your new garbage disposal, consider:
• Which type of garbage disposal would work best in your 
• Which size disposal is appropriate for your household needs?
• What special features are more important to you?
• Do you have a septic tank?

At Your Disposal

Garbage disposal units function in two basic modes — batch feed and continuous feed. Batch-feed models operate only when the disposal lid is engaged and the unit is activated. Continuous-feed models operate with the flick of a switch and run until the unit is switched off.
Basic disposal models operate with a typical amount of noise. However, new premium models do run quieter thanks to sound-deadening features, similar to dish-washing machines.
Most households with several members require at least a 3/4-horsepower unit. Increased horsepower reduces the likelihood of jamming, handles a larger volume of food waste more efficiently and translates into less cleanup time.
Your sink style also may play a role in your choice. An inexpensive stainless-steel sink may not provide solid support for a heavier, high-powered model. An overpowering disposal may cause the surrounding countertop and cabinets to rattle.
Check out the links below to find the right fit for your kitchen:

Disposal Types

Batch Feed Disposer

Batch Feed

Batch-feed models offer the reassurance of covered operation. Requiring the use of a stopper prior to activation, they are well-suited to households with children or those concerned with accidentally dropping unwanted items into the disposal during operation. These models are slightly more expensive, but offer advanced grinding features and quieter operation. They also require a little more set up time.



Continuous Feed Disposer


Continuous Feed

Continuous-feed models operate by a wall switch or accessory air switch. The sink baffle, a rubber shield placed inside the sink opening contains food debris within the disposer and, in some models, contributes to quieter operation. Some models offer auto reverse functions, advanced grinding features and special circuitry to eliminate jams.


Motor Size

Most models come in varying ranges of horsepower to tackle different levels of need. Basic models come with as little as 1/3-horsepower, best suited for small households with infrequent meal preparation or those grinding only small amounts of basic food waste materials such as fruit or vegetable skins. Disposers with motors less than ½-horsepower are not recommended for households with more than two people.

A 3/4 or 1-horsepower disposer fits better for households with more frequent meal preparation and larger amounts of waste. The higher horsepower is recommended for those who want to handle the difficult-to-grind food waste, such as fibrous materials and bones. These also offer better sound insulation and may run quieter than basic units.



Models that possess "anti-jamming" features help reduce the occurrence of simple jams, creating a more trouble-free operation. Some offer a button on the disposer, which must be pressed manually to reset the motor. Some require the homeowner to apply the hex-wrench-style accessory tool included with the disposer to work the jam loose manually. Some advanced models feature anti-jam circuitry that automatically senses pending food jams and can reverse motor direction or increase power to deter them.

For models equipped with an "auto-reverse," the motor reverses direction each time the disposer is used. This helps free itself of potential jams without the intervention of the homeowner.

Quiet Operation 

Higher-end models feature enhancements that allow them to operate more quietly. For instance, the outer shell of a disposer may contain insulation to reduce noise. Some models feature special rubber mounting designed to reduce vibration-related noise. Some include a specially-engineered sink baffle, designed to reduce the disposer noise. These features matter more in environments where the kitchen is exposed to other parts of the living quarters.

Stainless Steel

For lasting performance, look for a model that features a stainless steel grind chamber and components. Stainless steel components are less subject to corrosion and provide greater durability.

Dishwasher connector

Most disposal models can be connected directly to your dishwasher, enabling you to grind up solid food particles cleansed from your dishes. This waste transfers through a hose connected from your dishwasher to the disposal, where it is stored to be ground up with other food waste the next time your disposer is operated. This installation option eliminates the time-consuming chore of pre-rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher.

Septic Tanks

Disposers are compatible with septic systems that are sized properly to accommodate the usage of several typical home appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines and showers. When disposers are used in conjunction with a septic system, it is recommended that homeowners refrain from placing any solid, mineralized items such as egg or seafood shells into the disposer as it could contribute to the accumulation of sludge that may compromise the effectiveness of the septic system. More typical food waste items, such as food scraps and fruit and vegetable peels, are compatible with your septic system.

Septic System Models

Certain models are designed specifically for use with septic systems and feature special cartridges that inject a microorganism into the drain every time food waste is ground. These active microorganisms help accelerate the degradation of the food waste particles in your septic tank. The cartridges can last up to 3-6 months. These models install in the same manner as other disposer models and do not require any special tools. 

Installation Tips and Techniques

Installing a garbage disposal requires average plumbing and mechanical skills. It usually takes between 1 and 2-½ hours to complete. Replacing your old model should take between 30-60 minutes depending your level of expertise and current plumbing. Installation may vary depending on whether or not your drain line comes out of the wall or the floor. Ask a sales associate about the right procedure for your home.
An electrical source of power is also needed. If an outlet isn't available under the sink, you will need to install one. Check with local codes before installation. Some communities have codes that don’t allow disposers because of limits on sewer capacity. They may also require an air gap for a disposer and a dishwasher.
Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing your new disposer. For more installation tips please visit our Installing a Garbage Disposer project guide.

Working Smarter

Sometimes the trickiest part of mounting the garbage disposer is lifting it up to lock it into the mounting rings. So you don't have to lift it so far, stack some scrap lumber, the box the disposer came in or a couple of thick telephone books under the unit. If you are replacing a garbage disposer with the same brand, you may be able to use the existing mounting bracket.
Some disposers come with a special wrench that turns the impeller if the disposer gets jammed. Keep the wrench and manual together in a location you’ll remember.

Operational Tips

Always disconnect the power before reaching into a disposer. Unplug the unit from the outlet and then turn off the circuit breaker. Never stick your hand into an operating disposer.
There are a number of ways to increase the effectiveness of your disposal and prolong the unit's life. Follow these few simple suggestions to get the most out of your kitchen's disposal:

Things to Do

Things to Avoid

• Run cold water before, during   
  and after operation
• Running hot water while disposal is in use
• Grind small bones to scour
  grinding chamber
• Putting fibrous materials such as celery or corn husks in a standard
  disposal, which handle normal amounts of food waste such as fruit and
  vegetable peels, soft food scraps and small bones. Premium disposals
  handle the larger jobs.
• Remove silverware and other
  items from sink before use
• Putting fats or grease into disposal
• Use disposal cleaner, deodorizer
  or citrus peels to freshen up

• Grinding tobacco products or shellfish if you have a septic tank


• Run the disposal each time you
  put food in it to reduce corrosion
  from food acid
• Reaching into the disposal during use