How Garbage Disposals Work
A garbage disposal, installed between the sink and the drain line, shreds food waste into particles that are small enough to pass through plumbing pipes. Here’s how it works: A turntable sits above a motor that spins the turntable and a grinding chamber when the disposal is activated. The grinding chamber houses a shredder cylinder (located on the perimeter of the chamber) and 3 or 4 swiveling lugs (think of them as tiny hammers). The shredder cylinder lines the grinding chamber and is comprised of tiny holes with teeth for food to enter into once the particles are ground down to a small enough size. The lugs break up the food particles and centrifugal force sends the particles through the shredder cylinder and out through the plumbing.
Why You Should Install a Garbage Disposal
Food waste represents 15 to 20 percent of a typical household’s total garbage. Using a disposal results in more room in your trash, fewer trips to the dump, curb, or dumpster, and less organic waste in landfills. A garbage disposal also prevents foul-smelling items from lingering in your kitchen and you can even use a disposal to produce a fresh citrus scent by grinding up lemon and orange peels.
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Garbage Disposal Options
There are several different types of garbage disposals available on the market today. Learn more about each type below.
Continuous Feed Disposals
These units are by far the most popular among homeowners. They allow foodstuffs to be continuously inserted into the disposal during operation. Rubber shields in the opening prevent objects such as silverware from falling in while the unit is on and keep spinning food from getting out.
Batch Feed Disposals
If safety is a concern for you, consider a batch feed disposal, which comes with a lid that must be closed in order to operate. Simply insert the food waste you wish to dispose of, seal the lid, and activate the unit.
Septic Tank Specific Disposals
If your house utilizes a septic system, this is the disposal for you. These units, available as either continuous feed or batch feed models, house a cartridge that breaks down soap and grease. The cartridge also contains microorganisms that further process food waste. Cartridges must be replaced every couple of months depending on how much use the disposal receives.
Garbage Disposal Costs
Garbage disposal prices are primarily based on a unit’s horsepower. Continuous and batch feed models cost roughly the same; expect a septic specific disposal to add 10-20 percent to the figures below.
- 1/3 horsepower garbage disposals cost $50 to $100.
- 1/2 horsepower models cost $75 to $150.
- Expect a 3/4 or 1 horsepower disposal to cost $150 to $350.
- Plumbers typically charge $75 to $100 per hour for their services. Unless it’s a particularly complex installation, a plumber will take 1-2 hours to perform the work, resulting in a labor charge of $150-$200.
- Installing an electrical receptacle (necessary if there is not an existing receptacle within reach) may add $100-$200 to the total project cost.