Whether it’s taking care of food scraps when you’re cooking or making it easier to rinse off the dishes, a garbage disposal is a very convenient addition to your kitchen sink. If you’re thinking about buying a new garbage disposal but you’re not sure which style is right for you, keep reading to learn more about the different types available.
The Basics of Garbage Disposals
John Hammes invented the garbage disposal in 1927, and it hasn’t changed much since then. Inside the garbage disposal you’ll find a grinding chamber, which has a flat plate, small steel blades that rotate, and a wall with serrated edges. When you turn on the disposal, a motor inside the unit spins the blades to shred the food. The blades also push the food scraps against the wall to help grind them up.
When you turn on the garbage disposal, you should only run it until all the food is ground up, which typically takes less than 30 seconds. You also want to run the disposal with cold water as you grind the food and let the water run an additional 30 seconds after you turn the disposal off to make sure all the food particles wash away.
Can You Use a Garbage Disposal in Your Home?
Since garbage disposals grind up food scraps that might otherwise end up in the landfill, many cities require all new homes to come with one. Even so, it’s a good idea to contact your local sewer authority to make sure you’re allowed to have one. Some cities will issue you a special permit, while others ask that you don’t use them at all because of limited sewer capacity. If you’re on a septic tank, you might have to upgrade to a larger tank or empty your tank more frequently in order to have a garbage disposal.
Garbage Disposal Feeds
Garbage disposals come with two different feeds: continuous feed and batch feed. Continuous feed garbage disposals are the most common and very easy to use. To run a continuous feed garbage disposal, simply put the food in the disposal and flip a switch to turn it on. A continuous feed disposal will run as long as you have the switch on, so you can continue to feed food into the disposal to grind it up until you’re done.
Batch feed garbage disposals grind up food the same way as continuous feed disposals. The only difference between the two is how you turn them on. To use a batch feed disposal, put the food in the disposal and cover it with a special stopper to turn it on. The cover activates a special switch that lets you turn the disposal on, so it will only operate with the cover in place.
While this means you can only run the garbage disposal in batches, some people prefer this style because it eliminates the risk of injury from accidentally turning the disposal on or from flying debris.
Along with different feed types, garbage disposals also come with different horsepower. The smallest and most basic garbage disposals come with a one-quarter horsepower motor, and the largest and most powerful garbage disposals are available with a one horsepower motor. You can also find motors with one-third, one-half, and three-quarter horsepower. Deciding on the horsepower you need depends entirely on your lifestyle.
If you have a small family, don’t think you’ll use the garbage disposal consistently, and typically only grind soft foods like fruit, cooked vegetables, and cooked meat, you’ll probably do just fine with the one-quarter to one-half horsepower motors. On the other hand, if you have a large family, expect to use your garbage disposal frequently, and want it to handle anything from raw carrots to chicken bones, you should consider getting the three-quarter or one horsepower motor.
Also keep in mind that stepping up to a higher horsepower motor means finer pulverization of your food scraps, which in turn equals less jams, fewer clogged drain lines, and less stress on your city’s waste water system.
Garbage disposals aren’t known for being the quietest tools to operate. After all, that grinding and pulverizing is hard work. While you won’t find a garbage disposal that’s completely silent, manufacturers have made progress over the years in reducing the racket that comes from one.
If quiet operation is important to you, look for garbage disposals made with noise-dampening materials and insulated grinding chambers. Also keep in mind that higher horsepower motors generally run quieter than lower horsepower ones. These garbage disposals won’t come cheap, but they also won’t wake the entire family if you run them late at night.
Like other tools and equipment in your kitchen, garbage disposals will eventually have a breakdown and need repair. This typically happens when a piece inside the disposal becomes corroded after years of use and exposure to water. However, there are ways to cut down on how often you need to repair your garbage disposal. Stainless steel doesn’t corrode, so picking out a garbage disposal made with stainless steel parts can help it last longer. You can also look for garbage disposals that come with glass-filled nylon chambers to help cut down on wear and tear and unnecessary repairs.
Some new garbage disposals come with an auto-reverse feature that changes the grind direction to help clear out jammed food waste. Viking offers continuous feed garbage disposals with a feature called the “Jaminator,” which the company says eliminates nearly all jams. Additionally, one of the latest products from InSinkErator is the Evolution Septic Assist garbage disposal. This disposal is specifically made for homes with septic tanks. It comes with two stages of grinding and automatically injects over 300 million microorganisms each time you use it to help in the breakdown of food waste.
A garbage disposal is a powerful kitchen tool that makes our lives easier and more convenient. If you’re thinking about getting a new garbage disposal for your home, use this information to make sure you select the right type.