How long do garbage disposals last?
In general, you can expect your garbage disposal to last about 10 years with typical usage and proper maintenance. However, the garbage disposal’s lifespan will depend on a number of factors, including how well you take care of the built-in system, how often you use it, and the type of food you expect the garbage disposal to grind up.
Essentially, your garbage disposal works by capturing food in a container and then using metal teeth to pulverize it into bits that can be washed through small holes using water. Improperly caring for the different components and putting things down the garbage disposal that should not be there can cause the system to wear down (or even break) significantly faster than it would otherwise.
We’ll walk you through what you need to know about caring for your garbage disposal.
Garbage disposal maintenance tips
To help your garbage disposal last as long as possible, you’ll need to properly care for it. Here are a few tips to keep your garbage disposal in peak condition:
- Make sure you run the disposal every few days. You don’t want the food canister that holds the food to get overly filled. You also don’t want the metal teeth inside to start rusting or deteriorating because they’re not being used. When you run it, turn on the cold water to help flush out food-waste particles.
- Don’t put anything down the disposal that shouldn’t be there. We’ll discuss what things don’t belong in your garbage disposal in the next section, but being proactive and watching what you put in the disposal is an excellent example of preventive maintenance.
- If you get something tangled around the garbage disposal’s blades, follow the directions recommended by the manufacturer. You’ll likely have to turn the nut found at the bottom of your disposal to untangle it and then restart the system.
- If you do get a clog, don’t attempt to use commercial drain-clog remover, bleach or hot water. The chemicals can end up splashing up at you when you turn on the unit, and hot water can melt any fats in the food canister, which makes it harder to clean.
- Clean the disposal once or twice each month by filling it with ice cubes and rock salt to create a natural abrasive. Then run it for about a minute to make sure you have thoroughly ground up any food in the system.
- Disinfect the inside of the system with lemon juice or vinegar.
These tips can go a long way in keeping your garbage disposal in its best possible condition.
Don’t put these things down your garbage disposal
While garbage disposals are excellent for grinding up food scraps and simplifying the entire cleaning process, there are some things that should never be put down the disposal. It’s easy to start thinking of the disposal as a garbage can, but take care to only put down what the garbage disposal can effectively manage.
- Bones: If you eat meat with bones, don’t allow the leftover bones to go down the disposal.
- Coffee grounds: They might seem fine and small, but coffee grounds quickly form an almost paste-like substance that can build up in garbage disposals and cause clogs.
- Shells and nuts: You can experience a similar problem from nuts and shells as you do from coffee grounds. When ground up, they can form a paste that causes clogs.
- Eggshells: You also don’t want to put eggshells in the garbage disposal. They don’t break down as easily as other types of food particles and can cause buildup when the impellers can’t get the pieces small enough to fit through the disposal’s holes.
- Potato peels: Potato peels can also decrease the service life of your disposal unit. Allowing this type of food waste into your garbage disposal decreases your system’s ability to work.
- Anything that can get tangled in the food disposal: Certain types of fruits and veggies are very fibrous, making them a bad choice for your disposal — for example, banana peels and asparagus. The strands of these fibrous foods often get tangled rather than breaking down into small pieces.
- Grease and fats: Grease and fats might look like liquids when they first leave your plate, but they’ll quickly thicken and can form thick clogs that prevent your disposal from working effectively. This can cause issues for your plumbing system.
- Anything that isn’t food: Finally, anything that isn’t food shouldn’t be put down the garbage disposal.
If you’re ever unsure if something can go down the garbage disposal, think carefully about how it behaves when it’s mashed. If it’s a type of food that turns into a paste, avoid putting it down the garbage disposal.
How much does it cost to have a garbage disposal repaired?
If you develop a problem with your garbage disposal, such as it spouts a leak or you notice a clog, expect to pay around $250 for the fix, according to HomeAdvisor. You may need a professional plumber to come out and take a look at your unit, and plumbers typically have an hourly fee of around $80.
The final cost of your repair will depend on what precisely needs to get fixed. While $250 is the average repair cost, you might see a bill that ranges from $70 to $400.
How do I know if my garbage disposal needs to be replaced?
When the time comes to replace your garbage disposal, there might be a few telltale signs, including:
- Your garbage disposal doesn’t sound right when it’s running. If you hear strange sounds coming from the disposal, it could be a sign that parts have begun to break down. First, check to see if anything may have accidentally fallen into the disposal, like a piece of silverware. Remember not to reach your hand into the disposal. Instead, shine a light down to see if anything looks out of the ordinary. If you don’t see anything, it might be a sign that the disposal needs replacing.
- Your garbage disposal starts to experience increasingly expensive repair needs. Remember that you can expect your disposal to last about 10 years. As you get closer to the end of this time frame, you might experience problems, such as leaks or clogs. Sometimes the repairs for these types of problems will cost too much to justify repairing versus just replacing the system. This becomes especially true when you get close to the end of the system’s life expectancy.
- The system isn’t working properly. If you have problems getting the system to work properly, such as it not turning on when you flip the switch, it doesn’t effectively mash food particles, or you notice bad odors coming from the sink, it might be time to buy a new garbage disposal. You might have to hit the reset button occasionally throughout your time owning the disposal, but if you find yourself hitting it with increasing frequency, it’s time to consider replacing the unit.
Cinch protects you from costly garbage disposal repairs
You know how much your garbage disposal protects you from frustrations in the kitchen. It makes cleaning up significantly easier and eliminates the need for additional chores, like cleaning out the drain strainer from the kitchen sink. You want to protect your garbage disposal as much as possible.
However, unexpected breakdowns happen, even with the best of care. That’s where a home warranty from Cinch Home Services can help. Worry less about repair costs and protect your budget with a Built-in Systems plan. You can request service online at any time, and we’ll find a pre-screened service professional to diagnose and help remedy the problem. All Cinch plans also come with bonuses, such as a 180-day workmanship guarantee.
See the difference a Cinch home warranty can make and get the most out of your garbage disposal. Request a free quote today.