MAR 21, 2017

Garbage disposals are appliances that many of us take for granted these days. Nearly all homes have them, yet they are often not discussed among appliance upgrades. However, these little workhorses get put to the test, and you need to make sure you are taking care of them, and that yours is sized correctly. There are several factors involved, but first, how do you make sure your garbage disposal is running at optimal performance?


Garbage disposals may seem like simple machines, and indeed they are. However, there are several common problems or issues that homeowners can have.

First things first, be sure not to overfill your garbage disposal. Doing so can lead to overheating, jamming and eventually burn the motor out in your unit.Try to avoid putting fibrous materials down the garbage disposal. High amounts of vegetable waste can clog the disposal. Things like corn husks and potato peelings can lead to major headaches. This may sound obvious, but it bears mentioning: Try to avoid utensils from dropping into the garbage disposal as well. If you have kids, those little plastic spoons and forks can slide down pretty easily, not only potentially jamming the disposal but scarring up the plastic to look like Freddy Krueger had been using them to eat. If your garbage disposal is jammed, please, DO NOT reach down to unjam it. While this may seem like natural instinct, for obvious reasons it should be avoided. Shut off the circuit breaker before working on the clog.

Leaking is another common garbage disposal problem that can occur. There are several points of contact to check when this happens. First, check all the pipe connections from the garbage disposal into the piping, including the gaskets, and replace those if needed. This can be a simple at-home fix for just a few dollars. If the leak is coming from the housing of the garbage disposal itself, it may have to be replaced. This leads to another common location for leaks with garbage disposals. If you have to replace a garbage disposal or are simply upgrading to a newer, more powerful one, always make sure the fit where the garbage disposal sits in the sink is sealed and tight. If the garbage disposal isn’t set in squarely or the plumbers putty isn’t evenly pressed into place, water can seep through.


Garbage disposal powers range from 1/3 horsepower up to 1 or even 2 horsepower. As is the case with most things, the bigger the unit, the higher the cost. If you have a small household or do not use the garbage disposal much, 1/3 horsepower units should work just fine, and they are the most affordable. 3/4 & 1 horsepower units have stainless steel drums, longer warranties, they’re quieter and have two stage grinding which grates smaller particles down the drain. If you can afford the slightly higher cost, the ¾ and 1 horsepower units can be the better investment long term.


Along with the power requirements of the garbage disposal for your household, be aware of the physical space limitations you may have under your sink. Not all garbage disposals are built the same, even if they have the same power. Makes and models vary. Be sure you have the space needed to install the unit you want.

Then, after you have determined that the garbage disposal unit will technically fit, one more thing to keep in mind is regarding the space under your sink: will you have room for storage? Most people tend to store supplies under the kitchen sink. Take a quick inventory of what you want to be able to store under the sink to make sure it will all fit. If you have any taller items, you may have to rearrange them, find them a new home or rethink the garbage disposal that you are installing.

Avoid garbage disposal problems and extend the life of your unit by not flushing any of the inappropriate items outlined above down the unit.Run a cup full of ice down the garbage disposal periodically to keep the blades sharp. Ensure that food clears the garbage disposal completely and that none of it backs up into your dishwasher by running a steady stream of cool water before, during and after running the garbage disposal.

If you need some help pinpointing a problem with your garbage disposal, would rather a professional handle installation of a new garbage disposal or just want some help deciding which type of garbage disposal you should buy, contact us today!