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What You Need to Know to Buy the Best Garbage Disposal

What You Need to Know to Buy the Best Garbage Disposal

There are several reasons why you might need to shop for a new in-sink garbage disposal, which we admit is not the most glamorous appliance on the market today. For instance, you might be renovating your kitchen and want to include a disposal (sometimes also called a “disposer”) to make quick work of food scraps when you’re cooking. Or perhaps you simply need to replace an older disposal that’s stopped working. Regardless, you want to be sure you’re purchasing the best garbage disposal available.

Today’s blog post gives you everything you need to consider as you begin the purchasing process for a new garbage disposal. While these hardworking appliances are not particularly complicated, ensuring that you buy the best garbage disposal to meet your needs requires a bit of careful decision-making between different features and configurations.

Before You Shop Disposals, Consider These Two Points:

1. Can Your Plumbing Handle a Garbage Disposal?

If you experience frequent plumbing problems in your home like clogged drains or other backups, you need to address those issues before you install a disposal—even if this will be a replacement of an existing appliance.

Garbage disposals add waste volume to your plumbing system—as much as 900 gallons per year, according to some estimates. That can cause more problems for already troubled plumbing.

2. Do You Rely on a Septic System?

While the newest generation of disposers can pulverize your food scraps into tiny particles less than 2 millimeters in size, they still add quite a bit of volume to your home’s waste output. If you rely on public sewer service, this may simply mean slightly higher sewer bills depending on how frequently you run the garbage disposal.

However, if your home is served by an on-lot septic system for sewage treatment and removal—as plenty of our customers’ Lancaster County homes still are—you may want to think more carefully before adding a disposal to your kitchen. Septic systems vary in size, capacity, and configuration, and you want to make sure yours can handle the added waste volume. Check with your septic system pumping contractor for advice on whether you may need to upgrade your system to accommodate a garbage disposal.

Power Considerations—How Much Horsepower Do You Need?

Garbage disposals come in a small range of motor power capacities, measured in horsepower. Here at Gochnauer’s Appliance Center, we offer four different horsepower options from the best garbage disposal manufacturers, GE, Waste King, and Whirlpool.

More powerful disposers typically cost a little bit more—and take up more physical space under your sink—but depending on the types of food you usually prepare, you may not need all that power. Additionally, many people match garbage disposal power to the size of their household since larger family sizes will naturally need to prepare more food.

This is what each motor power rating can handle:

  • 1/3 HP motor garbage disposal – Grinding of animal bones and harder waste items is not recommended. Best for softer vegetable, fruit, and other organic matter. These least powerful disposers are often the best size for 1-2 person households.
  • 1/2 HP motor garbage disposal – This motor size can generally handle occasional grinding of smaller bones, as well as most vegetable and fruit waste. If three or four people live in your house, this is usually a fine disposer power option.
  • 3/4 HP motor garbage disposal – The most popular power option for most single-family households, 3/4 HP is powerful enough to handle just about any food waste regularly.
  • 1 HP motor garbage disposal – Sometimes considered entry-level commercial-grade, this power option should be your go-to if you have a large family with over eight people who often cook and eat at home. This can also be a great disposal if you’re running a small food business from your home.

Is Batch Disposal or Continuous Feed Better?

Garbage disposals come in two types: batch feed and continuous feed. For typical home use, continuous feed is the most popular option since it’s also the most convenient.

With batch-fed disposals, the user loads in food scraps and then secures a stopper into place to activate the grinding components. The main benefit of this disposal style is safety because the grinding chamber is always physically blocked off while operating.

You control continuous feed disposals with a switch near the sink, and users load food scraps as the grinding components are working. The big benefits with continuously-fed disposers are speed and ease of use. However, you sacrifice some safety. If you have small children in your household, these types of disposals can create a hazard.

What Else to Think About to Choose the Best Garbage Disposal

Once you’ve narrowed your garbage disposal choice based on power considerations and type, you’ll want to think about a few other points to ensure easy installation and guarantee that you’ll be happy with your new appliance over time.

Cord or No Cord?

Garbage disposals are available both with or without an electrical cord. While non-corded models are still electrically powered, they will need to be installed and hard-wired by an electrician or other knowledgeable appliance installation resource. Corded models will be appropriate if you already have an electrical outlet installed under your sink specifically to plug in a disposal.

Disposal Grinding Chamber Material

Many of the more premium-priced garbage disposals on the market feature all-stainless steel grinding components and grinding chamber for better durability. Respected third-party testing agencies like Consumer Reports have found that particularly solid food waste—such as beef bones—can still damage stainless steel. You’ll want to consider what kinds of food scraps you typically need to dispose of and choose the best garbage disposal to handle the work.

Mount System Options

Will you be installing your garbage disposal yourself, or will you hire a professional? Look for a “quick-mount neck” when shopping, which is designed to mount easily with minimal mounting hardware and effort. However, you should consider that higher horsepower disposals can weigh up to 30 lbs. and require more than one set of hands to install safely.

Noise Levels

There is no doubt about it, garbage disposals tend to be somewhat noisy as they grind food scraps. However, manufacturers have worked hard to address excessive noise with better technology. When you’re shopping, check specifications listings for decibel ratings if noise reduction is important to you.

Additional Features to Consider

While most shoppers prioritize power capacity and garbage disposal type—batch feed or continuous feed—to make their purchasing decision, if you like added “bells and whistles” on your appliances, you’ll want to look for these items. Also, consider the manufacturer’s warranty, which can vary.

Auto-Reverse Mode

One of the chief problems that even the best garbage disposals can have is clogging. Auto-reverse functionality helps your disposer clear potential clogs by automatically running the grinding components in the opposite direction for a few seconds to help keep food waste moving down the drain.

Safety Cover

While batch feed garbage disposals require a stopper to operate, continuous feed models work without a barrier between the grinding chamber and your sink. Some models feature a safety cover that can help prevent debris from being ejected back into the sink as the disposer operates.

Manufacturer’s Warranty

Your garbage disposal should last about a decade with typical use. Consider this fact as you look at coverage options offered by each manufacturer’s warranty. Some warranties last just about a year, while other brands may offer up to a 10-year limited warranty.

Stop by Our Showroom to See the Best Garbage Disposals Around

In Lancaster County, Pa., Gochnauer’s Home Appliance Center is your best resource for high-quality appliances at excellent prices.

When you’re shopping garbage disposals—whether for a first-time new installation or as a replacement appliance—stop by our showroom in East Petersburg for friendly and knowledgeable buying assistance. We look forward to serving you!