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By R. Antonio Matta

5 key considerations when buying a garbage disposal

Do you want to lessen the occurrence of annoying clogged pipes from food getting stuck in your kitchen sink? Would you like to dial down the rancid and foul-smelling odor of food as it sits in your trash bin? A garbage disposal is an ideal solution for many kitchen concerns such as these.

With landfills congested with food waste daily, investing in a sound waste disposal unit is a home improvement that not only benefits the residential home but the environmental home, as well. A garbage disposer keeps the food and scraps out of our landfills and provides a means for waste's recycling with treatment from wastewater plants.

Whether you are remodeling or repairing your kitchen appliance, here is some advice on how to choose the best garbage disposal.

What is important to know before you buy

Before I get into the considerations for your purchase, you may want to familiarize yourself with the two types of garbage disposals available. You can choose from either a continuous-feed or batch-feed garbage disposer. Each has benefits and limitations. So, it will serve you well to know in advance which kind you will be considering.

Continuous-feed garbage disposals – these are the most convenient of the two types by allowing the operator to run the disposal with the flip of a switch and the ability to enter any amount of food at a single time.

Batch-feed garbage disposals – this model can only be activated when the disposer fills up to a particular level. It is not quite convenient. What if you want to dispose of a sizeable amount of food at once? Having to wait until the disposal reaches its full capacity, to begin grating the first "batch" of scraps, can make for a considerably lengthy processing time.

Considerations for your garbage disposal purchase

1. Cost

The price of a unit is unquestionably the most deterring or appealing feature of a waste disposal unit. The cost can vary depending on type, features, and brand. The amount can range on average from under $100 to over $300. The continuous-feed disposal is the more affordable of the two types of garbage disposals, but unless you are planning on making its installation a DIY project, this kind of garbage disposal will require professional installation. Batch-feed garbage disposals do not require expert installation, and although they will save you setup costs, they are more expensive than its continuous-feed counterpart.

2. Motor power

The labeling for garbage disposals is by the engine's level of horsepower. The lowest level is 1/3 horsepower, and the range covers up to 1.0 horsepower – with increments of one-half and three-fourths in between. One-third horsepower will be sufficient for a small home with a couple of people who do not dispose of much food, and 1.0 horsepower is powerful enough to handle grating bones and fruit rinds.

3. Noise

When in operation, garbage disposals can be quite loud. Online reviews from professional critics and verified consumers can shed light on how loud and abrasive the sound of the device is in practicality. However, most models with 3/4 and 1.0 horsepower tend to have a built-in noise protector and silencing technology which allows for quieter function.

4. Durability

From a reputable brand like Whirlpool, InSinkErator or General Electric, a decent garbage disposal will last you for several years. The last thing you want is to have to pay for a new disposal within only a year or two of purchasing the previous one. Most warranties will stand behind any claims of durability. Here is something to keep in mind. Disposals with weaker motors, like 1/3, are inadequate for heavy use and will die out quicker than those with a higher horsepower.

5. Safety

A batch-feed garbage disposal is ideal for your kitchen if safety is a concern. The unit does not operate until you place a lid over the top. The stopper lid feature will prevent the risks of accidents, especially, if children are in the picture. Continuous-feed garbage disposals are not as safe as batch-feed garbage disposals because once they are activated, it runs "continuously." It would be dangerous if a hand or finger were to haphazardly get trapped in the drain while the motor is running. Not limited to merely body parts, it would be damaging also if non-food items, like jewelry or silverware, were to fall inside and come in contact with the operating grinder.

6. Additional features

The considerations mentioned above cover the basics when it comes to what factors to chew over before purchasing a garbage disposal unit, but there are other features worth honorable mention:

  • Auto-reverse mode option to unjam stuck food
  • Electrical cord for easy installation
  • Antiseptic coating and treatment for the unit's resistance to bacteria and microbes that may grow on small waste particles stuck in the disposal

With the device's price being the umbrella under which quality and added features sit under, there are essentially at least two of four main things to consider when researching and buying a garbage disposal. There is basic functionality (power, noise, and durability), added benefits, convenience (continuous or batch) or safety (stopper lid or safety cover).

The eco-friendliness of garbage disposals may not be a selling point for you. Maybe not even the thought of there being fewer flies and insects that are attracted to food loitering around your kitchen is enough to motivate you to upgrade your disposal. Maybe picking the first option you see outweighs giving too much regard to the purchase considerations mentioned here.

Whatever the case, whenever you are ready and in the market for a new garbage disposal — as with any appliance – a good rule of thumb is that the more you are willing to spend initially, the more money is saved in the long run. You will get a unit that lasts you awhile and one that greatly benefits your household needs.

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