What is a Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposals are practical kitchen tools that enable you to effectively get rid of fruit rinds, potato peels, and many other kinds of food waste. These food scraps are ground into tiny particles by the disposals, which are then flushed out of the appliance chamber when you run cold water through your sink. The food fragments are subsequently carried into the plumbing drain pipes and flushed from your kitchen.

Because garbage disposals promptly evacuate food waste, it won’t begin to rot and smell awful in your interior trash can. Getting rid of some food waste frees up extra space in your trashcan for other objects. They also benefit the environment by reducing the amount of garbage that is dumped into landfills.

How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?

How a Garbage Disposal Works

To gather solid food scraps in a grinding chamber, a garbage disposal is installed at the bottom of a sink. When the disposal is turned on, an impeller plate, or spinning disc, rotates quickly, pushing the food scraps up against the grinding chamber’s outside wall.

As a result, the food waste is reduced to tiny fragments, which are subsequently cleansed by water passing through openings in the chamber wall. Disposals, contrary to popular belief, do not feature sharp blades. Instead, they have two dull metal “teeth” on the impeller plate.

Main Components of a Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposal Parts

Splash Guard

Under your sink, you can see the disposal’s waste collection body. Splash guards protect your kitchen sink drain’s edges by rubber flaps. Food leftovers are disposed of by passing through the flaps.

The splash guard, an essential part of the waste disposal system, prevents water and crushed food from splashing back up into the sink basin.

The Hopper Chamber

The hopper chamber is a hollow cylinder that houses the disposal system. A hopper chamber is made up of two chambers: lower and upper. The upper chamber catches food waste before it’s shredded in the disposal.

The disposal motor is positioned in the insulated lower chamber. This part connects to the waste line. After the grinding process, the food flows through a single bottom chamber section before exiting via the drain pipe.

Flywheel and Shredder Ring

A shredder ring is located between the garbage disposal system’s upper and lower hopper chambers. The flywheel is a metal turntable that spins beneath the shredder ring. The spinning of the flywheel is maintained by an insulated motor mounted at the disposal unit’s bottom.

The flywheel retains and prevents food waste from entering the bottom chamber until it is small enough to pass through the small holes around the shredder ring. When the garbage disposal unit is switched on, the interior walls of the shredder, which are covered with small, sharp grooves, aid in the crushing and breaking down of food particles.

Motors and Impellers

A disposal unit motor generates a force that aids in the spinning of the impellers and flywheel, which trap food waste. The disposal’s impellers are the rotating blades.

The rotating motion continually sends the food into the grooves of the shredder ring.

The process is repeated until the food lumps are reduced to tiny bits that pass through the minor holes of the shredder ring and down the drainpipe without becoming clogged.

Waste Line Connector

The waste line connector is located in the lower hopper chamber. After the food scraps have been crushed into manageable bits, they are flushed via the waste line connection ports into the drain pipe and out to the septic tank.

Type of Garbage Disposal

There are two types of garbage disposal available.

1. Continuous Feed Garbage Disposals

Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal
Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal

Continuous-feed garbage disposals are the most common type used in residential kitchens. As the name suggests, users can feed waste down the disposal continuously rather than only adding small quantities at a time. As long as the switch is on, it grinds waste.

A continuous feed model turns on with the flick of a switch and runs until it is turned off. You can add food waste while the disposal is running. Some models offer auto-reverse functions, advanced grinding features, and special circuitry to help eliminate jams. Some units also come with splash guards to help prevent items from splashing out while adding food waste to running disposal.

With a continuous-feed garbage disposal, you can continuously add waste as you move along in meal prep or cleanup. Leave the switch on to grind waste as you go, or only turn it on when needed.

You do, however, need to run cold water while the garbage disposal is running. If you leave it on continuously, there is a potential for wasting more water and electricity.

Because continuous-feed garbage disposals are more popular, they are typically cheaper than batch-feed models, and you will have a variety of models to choose from.

The main drawback of continuous-feed garbage disposals is safety. The motor runs until the switch is turned off, which raises the potential for accidents. Serious injuries are likely if someone sticks their hand down the drain as the disposal runs. Also, if other non-food items such as silverware slip down the drain, your disposal may suffer damage.

You can learn more about the features of a continuous feed garbage disposal from our article: What is a Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal?

2. Batch Feed Garbage Disposals

Batch Feed Garbage Disposal

A switch does not operate batch feed garbage disposals. They are activated once the sink stopper is put in place. To use: put your food items down the drain, then place the drain cover over the opening to initiate grinding.

These models operate in batches and run only when a stopper is placed over the disposal opening, turning it on. They must be used with a stopper and are better for households with exuberant, exploring children. The stopper prevents items from accidentally falling into the machine.

You must put the food waste into a batch feed disposal and put the stopper in place before turning it on. The construction of these units is more intricate than continuous feed, and you do not need to install a switch or button to operate them.

The main benefits of batch feed garbage disposals are safety and conservation. With a batch feed model, the potential for accidents is nearly nonexistent, making them a great choice for homes with children. The machine and water do not continuously run, which conserves electricity and water.

Because batch-feed garbage disposals aren’t as popular as continuous-feed models, they are usually more expensive. There are also fewer options when it comes to different models to choose from.

How Long Do Garbage Disposals Last?

The answer to how long a disposal lasts depends mainly on how frequently you use it, what sort of food waste you put in it, and how well you operate and maintain it. A garbage disposal may survive for roughly twelve years on average.

Avoid pouring hot water through your garbage disposal to make it last longer. Also, avoid grinding fibrous items such as celery stalks or maize husks in basic disposal. Basic disposals are intended to manage modest amounts of food scraps such as peels from fruits and vegetables, soft food scraps, and tiny bones. Premium disposals can handle larger projects.

If you ever need to repair your disposal, check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine which components to purchase.

What is the Best Garbage Disposal Motor Size?

Garbage disposals come in a variety of sizes and configurations. Motor sizes range from 1/3 to 1 HP. The higher the horsepower, the more efficient the disposal will be. Food waste will be crushed into finer particles, resulting in fewer clogs.

1/3 HP Motors

Motors in basic disposal models are 1/3 HP. These are usually on the lower end of the price spectrum. They can be a decent solution for small families that use them seldom, or for short-term or minimal use in holiday homes, but they rarely withstand regular or lengthy use. A simple model may be the perfect garbage disposal for a small household or if meals are cooked occasionally.

1/2 HP Motors

Most retailers recommend a garbage disposal motor with at least 1/2 horsepower. Because these motors are smaller than one-horsepower motors, they can fit into smaller spaces under your sink. Models with 1/2 HP should be operated with plenty of cold water to aid in the passage of food waste.

3/4 HP Motors

Most manufacturers suggest 3/4 HP versions for most houses. These often have additional features, such as stainless steel components, and last longer than those with less powerful motors. They’re also bigger, so make sure you have enough space under your sink before you buy them.

One HP Motors

Models with one-horsepower motors also demand more space beneath your sink and are more expensive. However, they have a bigger capacity for food scraps and rarely clog.

SEE: Garbage Disposal Horsepower and Sizes

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