How to Select a Garbage Disposal

Washing lettuce in sink
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  • 01 of 03

    Picking a Garbage Disposal

    garbage disposal
    InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1.0 HP Household Food Waste Disposer. © 2010

    The garbage disposal is a powerful kitchen appliance that truly makes our life easier and greener.

    Garbage disposers take solid food waste that would end up in a landfill and pulverize it, then send it through your waste treatment system. If that is a city sewer, then the waste is handled there as waste water. If you use a septic system, then you have some limitations and other responsibilities for maintaining proper septic system health when using a garbage disposal, but the concept is the same.

    I...MOREnvented in 1927 by John Hammes, the garbage disposal has not changed that much over the years, but more and more models are coming to market with great features. For example, one of the giants in the garbage disposal industry, InSinkErator®, has a 1HP model called "Evolution Excel" (see photo above) with an auto-reversing grind feature. Another company, Viking, has a 3/4HP model #VCFW750 with continuous feed disposer with a "Jaminator," a feature the company claims virtually eliminates jams. 

    Another product is a garbage disposal designed for septic systems, such as the InSinkErator® Evolution Septic Assist Garbage Disposal which, among other things, uses a two-stage grinding technology and injects microorganisms to assist in the breakdown of food waste in your septic system.

    Let's take a look at the basic types and main features of the garbage disposal and what to look for when selecting one. It may be time to remove your old garbage disposal and buy a new one!

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Garbage Disposal Types and Features

    garbage disposal
    Waste King L-8000 Legend Series 1.0 HP Continuous Feed Operation Waste Disposer. © 2010

    Feed Type: Disposals come in continuous feed and batch feed types. Continuous feed disposals are most common and easiest to use. They are the open mouth disposals that turn on and off with a wall switch. Batch feed types of disposals require you to place the waste food into the hopper chamber, close a stopper lid to activate the grinder and then the food is pulverized. Batch feed types are more expensive and safer for people who have a hard time keeping their hands out of small holes filled...MORE rotating knife blades or can't seem to keep cutlery out of the disposal. Fortunately, most of us can handle these basic skills and continuous feed disposals are just fine and the most commonly used.

    Motor Size
    You'll find that disposals come mostly in a range of motor sizes including 1/3 HP, 1/2 HP, 3/4 HP and 1 HP. If you're grinding only soft foods like vegetables, then 1/3 to 1/2 HP is fine. But paying a bit more for a 3/4 to 1 HP motor will provide you less jams and smoother operation and finer pulverization of the food waste, and that means less clogged drain lines and less stress on the waste water system. I recommend buying at least a 3/4 HP disposal.

    Grinding Chamber
    The grinding (hopper) chamber is where the action takes place. Smaller HP motors will have smaller chambers because they have limited torque and limited power to pulverize the food waste. Conversely, larger HP motors will usually have larger food grinding chambers because they can handle more waste food volume. In addition to a minimum 3/4 HP disposal, I also highly recommend a food chamber that is stainless steel or at least glass filled nylon. This will be the easiest to clean and will not rust. I really recommend the impellers be stainless steel.

    Although all disposals are somewhat noisy, there is still a big difference between cheap small HP units and better quality, higher HP, insulated grinding chamber units.

    For information on garbage disposal repair see the tutorial Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting.

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    Recommended Garbage Disposals

    garbage disposal
    In-Sink-Erator Model #555 3/4 H.P. Garbage Disposal. © In-Sink-Erator

    There are many options in the marketplace for garbage disposals, but here are few that I would recommend you consider:

    Waste King L-8000 Legend Series: 1 HP Disposal

    InSinkErator Evolution Excel Food Waste Disposer: 1 HP Disposal

    InSinkErator Evolution Essential Food Waste Disposer: 3/4 HP Disposal
    Read InSinkErator Evolution Essential product review

    InSinkErator Evolution Septic Assist Disposer: 3/4 HP Disposal

    Waste King L-1001 Legend Food Waste Disposer: 1/2 HP Disposal

    Whirlaway Model 291: 1/2 HP...MORE Disposal