What is a Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposals are absolutely necessary for many homes across the country. They’re an excellent way to divert food waste away from landfills and into the sewage system for decomposition. You have two options when it comes to choosing a garbage disposal, one of those is a continuous feed garbage disposal.

How Does a Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal Work?

insinkerator Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Insinkerator Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

Most modern kitchens have a continuous feed garbage disposal. When you turn on this disposal by flipping the switch, it runs continuously until you turn it off by flipping the switch again.

Just make sure your water is running while you’re using it. It automatically grinds the food scraps that you throw down the drain. If you have a dishwasher, it will also naturally pump water out of your sink, allowing you to wash dishes with fresh, clean water every time.

This isn’t just for convenience; the system does save energy by reducing the amount of energy wasted during pauses.

To fully understand how continuous garbage disposal works, you need to be familiar with the other option which is known as batch garbage disposal. Unlike continuous garbage disposal, batch disposal must be worked in turns. Furthermore, putting a large quantity of food scraps all at once is not recommended.

How Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal Works
Moen Continuous Feed Garbage

Instead, food waste is discarded in single batches, ideally three or six cups at a time. To use these garbage disposals efficiently, you must insert a special magnetic stopper. This keeps random objects from dropping into the garbage disposal while it is running. The amount of food scraps the disposal can accommodate is also determined by the model that you choose.

You have to cover the drain with the blocker once the canister is full to activate the mechanism. These disposals are popular in situations where connecting an electronic circuit for control is not possible.

However, continuous feed disposals are either powered by the classic light switch style, which requires an electric switch near the kitchen sink, or by the relatively new air switch style.

Air pressure switches are more recent and safer. A toggle light switch can be accidentally activated, posing a safety risk if the electric switch is accidentally turned on while dishes are all in the sink or the water is turned off. 

Air pressure-controlled switch, on the other hand, is safer because it eliminates the need to install an electronic circuit close to a sink, and the button has to be pushed against resistance to catch the motor’s on/off switch, reducing the possibility of an accident.

Features of a Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

Waste King Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Waste King Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

Automatic Reversal Mode

When the shredding ring system detects a jam, the auto-reverse mode feature allows the disposal to change the direction the blades move in order to dislodge the obstruction without interrupting operation.

Multi-Grinding Stages

To efficiently grind up different types of food, multi-stage grinding enables different operation speeds – for example, a piece of meat will require a different setting than a carrot.


A baffle is installed in the disposal’s neck to keep non-grindable items from entering and obstructing the disposal, as well as to keep waste from popping out of the disposal chamber while the impellers and shredder ring are moving.

Power Cord

Because the ISGs can be set up to work with the home’s electrical system, it’s a smart idea to ensure the power cord is included if you prefer to plug it in.

A Stainless Steel Disposal Chamber

While the stainless steel compartment is still susceptible to damage from improper usage and inappropriate food waste being fed through the shredder, it is a long-lasting option that is resistant to rust and corrosion.

Quick-Mount Neck 

Because of the quick-mount neck, installing a continuous feed garbage disposal is a relatively easy home improvement task that can be completed safely and effectively with 1 or 2 people. Depending on the size, the most challenging part may be the weight of the garbage disposal unit itself.

Pros of Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

GE Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
GE Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

Continuous feed garbage disposals, like any other product, have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s go over some of the main pros and cons to help you determine if this type of disposal is suitable for your home.

Effective Operation

It only takes a few minutes to go through the food scraps on hand. Unlike batch-feed disposals, you can continuously scrape food waste into the sink rather than in batches. As long as the switch is turned on, these disposals will grind.

If you generate a lot of food scraps, a continuous feed garbage disposal might be a good option for you.

Easy to Maintain

Continuous feed garbage disposals have a simple design that makes them easy to clean. The open-mouth feature enables you to clean it without disassembling it. Because of their low maintenance requirements, these disposals are user-friendly.

Because of their low maintenance requirements, these disposals are user-friendly.

Wide Variety of Models

Continuous feed garbage disposals have more options than batch feed garbage disposals. Manufacturers have continued to rise to meet the demand for these disposals due to their popularity. Continuous feed models come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and prices.


Continuous feed disposers are generally less expensive than batch-feed options. These garbage disposals are less expensive overall, from the cost of the appliance to installation and replacement parts.

Cons of Continuous Feed Garbage Disposals

Moen Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Moen Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages to continuous feed garbage disposals. Here are some things to consider.


Continuous feed disposals are noisy because they lack a magnetic cover, especially when compared to batch feed models. The magnetic cover makes batch feed garbage disposals much quieter to operate.

The Drain Has No cover

Another disadvantage of not having a magnetic cover is that the drain remains open during operation. If something falls into the disposal, such as a piece of cutlery or jewelry, it could clog the disposal.

You could also injure your fingers if you attempt to grab something that wasn’t intended to go down the drain. So, while the continuous operation is efficient, you must tread cautiously.

High Operating Costs

Because these systems run continuously, they require more energy than batch-feed systems. It uses the same amount of energy whether it is grinding food or is completely empty. While we doubt you’d leave it on by accident (they’re not particularly quiet), ensure you flip it off when not in use.

Consumption of Water

Running water while the disposal is running is required for smooth operation. This results in more water waste because it necessitates a continuous water supply. Depending on what you’re grinding, warm to hot water may be required, while cold water may be sufficient.

Spilling Waste

Food waste may pop up as it grinds if the opening is not covered, as with a batch feed model. Unless the disposal is extremely full or there is a temporary obstruction in the grinder, this is usually not an issue. You can solve the problem by purchasing a splash guard.

Maintenance Tips for Continuous Feed Garbage Disposals

Whirlpool Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Whirlpool Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
  • Always run cold water while the appliance is running and for at least 20 seconds after the particles have been removed to ensure that all food scraps have been flushed away.
  • To avoid wearing out the motor, avoid running hot water while the disposal is shredding food scraps.
  • When possible, save food scraps for the compost pile. It’s useful in the garden and can help the disposal last longer.
  • Do not leave food in the garbage disposal for extended periods of time. The food will produce unpleasant odors and may corrode the canister.


A continuous feeding garbage disposal system is the gold standard for every kitchen. While there are safety concerns with a disposal that runs continuously, a careful operation can mitigate most of them.

It is the most popular and efficient garbage disposal option.

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