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Garbage Disposal Buying Guide

Garabge disposal

If you’re in the market to replace your garbage disposal or install a new one, we’ve created a question-based buying guide that will make your purchasing decision easier by answering commonly asked questions.

What are the benefits of a garbage disposer?

Food near a kitchen sink

There’s no need to be on the fence when deciding whether or not you need a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals provide many benefits including:

  • Better for the environment - using garbage disposers instead of throwing food into the trash can reduces the amount of waste transported to landfills. Water treatment facilities are more apt to handle food waste as many facilities can turn it into energy or even fertilizers.

  • Better for your plumbing - grinding up food that would otherwise flow directly into your plumbing reduces the chance of a clogged drain.

  • Reduces bad odors - garbage disposals grind waste into small pieces that would be put into your trash can or wastebasket and could rot right inside your home.

  • Increases sanitary home conditions - Less food in your wastebasket increases cleanliness, as your garbage will be less likely to attract unwanted animals, insects, and other pests.

What size of garbage disposer do I need?

A family making dinner together

The optimal size of a garbage disposal is based on two variables: the amount of space available under your sink and how many people live in your home.

First, measure the available space under your sink to fit a disposer. You don’t want to purchase a disposal, get ready to install it, and find out it doesn’t fit. Remember, you may be able to increase your measurements by rerouting existing plumbing to a different configuration. 

Second, use our chart to determine the recommended horsepower (HP) based on household size. It is important to note that the higher the HP, the larger the size of the unit.

  • 1-2 person household : 1/3 or 1/2 HP disposal
  • 3-6 person household : 1/2 or 3/4 HP disposal
  • 5-8 person household : 3/4 or 1 HP disposal
  • 8+ person household : 1 or 2 HP disposal

What can you put down your garbage disposal?

Fruit and vegetables

This is a very common question among both new and longtime disposal users. According to InSinkErator, one of the largest manufacturers of garbage disposals in the United States, garbage disposals are designed to handle just about any type of food waste.

Disposals can quickly dispose of boneless meat, vegetables, fruit, and other common foods. We recommend following the manufacturer guidelines for using the disposal. Most suggest grinding moderate amounts of food with large amounts of water.

What can you NOT put down a garbage disposer?

A broken egg

There are a few things you simply can’t put in your disposal. Absolutely never place any fats, oils, or grease in the disposal or down the drain. These can collect or solidify inside the plumbing, which could cause major plumbing issues.

The all-time, most asked question is, can you put coffee grounds and eggshells down the disposal. This a loaded question because eggshells and coffee grounds do not harm a disposal itself. However, the issue is when it comes to the plumbing. Both eggshells and coffee grounds can settle in the pipes. To avoid plumbing issues, feed these down the disposer gradually with a strong flow of water or do not place them in the disposer at all.

What garbage disposal features do I need?

Food in grabage disposal

When looking for a garbage disposer it may seem difficult to understand the price differences between the units. The difference between the various units, excluding changes in the brand, are based on the features. Many brands may name features differently, but we’ve listed the key features you need to know below.

  • Horsepower - As we discussed before, horsepower is an important factor when buying a new garbage disposer and we recommend basing your minimum horsepower needs on household size. However, if you use your disposer more than the average family, you can always go up in size.
  • Power source - Does the unit come with an electric cord or is it meant to be hardwired into your home? Most DIYers are more comfortable plugging a unit into an outlet rather than wiring it directly into the home.
  • Auto-reverse - Some units come with auto-reverse that allows the disposer to spin the blades in reverse to clear any waste that may become jammed.
  • Warranty - Warranties can range from 1 to 7 years depending on the unit. When examining the warranty be sure to research how easy companies are to work with in the event there is an issue. Warranties like “In-Home Service Warranty” cover a technician to come out to your home and fix the unit. This type of warranty is better than receiving a replacement unit to install.
  • Quick mount - Some units come with a quick mounting bracket that allows you to simply install a bracket in the bottom of your sink and twist the disposal onto the bracket. If you already have a bracket installed on your sink, you can reuse the bracket and twist on your new garbage disposer.
  • Stainless steel construction - Top quality garbage disposers are built with stainless steel grinding chambers and blades. These units are typically quieter and are rust-resistant, increasing their durability and longevity.

How much does it cost to buy a garbage disposer?

Garbage disposers from your local Do it Best store vary in price starting at $70 for lower horsepower units to $300 for larger horsepower units with reduced sound, extended warranty, and multi-grind functionality.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.