Garbage Disposal Installation & Repair

garbage disposalThe phrase “garbage disposal” probably conjures in your mind images of stuffed bin bags tossed into huge trash cans kept on the sidewalk for your neighborhood garbage truck to get rid of.

In most instances, you wouldn’t be wrong to think such, but today, we are bringing the garbage disposal discussion just a little closer – to the kitchen – which would ultimately clear your doubts about installing one in your home.

Garbage disposals are all about convenience. They make working in the kitchen a breeze. When this appliance suddenly stops working, things can become hard around the kitchen. Your response to faulty garbage disposals should be reaching for your phone to call a plumber and not reaching into the sink.

What Is A Garbage Disposal Unit?

A garbage disposal unit is a device that is fixed underneath your kitchen sink, between your sink’s drain and the u-shaped portion of the drainage tube known as the “trap”.

It helps break down solid food waste into significantly smaller pieces – usually less than 2mm in diameter – for easy passage through your drainage pipes.

It is usually powered by electricity and comes in either of two categories:

  1. Continuous-Feed Models
  2. Batch-Feed Models

Continuous-Feed Models are most likely the most convenient category of garbage disposal units available in the market today. With this model, you wouldn’t need to turn your device off before putting in food scraps as it is designed to accommodate a steady in-flow of food waste while in operation.

These models are also the more commonly found units, so you can be sure of getting a device that particularly suits your kitchen needs, without breaking the bank.

The major drawback of these models is that they require a dedicated wall switch, which would require the professional services of an electrician to install. If you prefer using an air switch for your continuous-feed garbage disposal unit, you may not need a professional electrician to come fix it, although you’d need an additional under sink outlet.

Batch-Feed Models, as the name implies, processes solid food waste in batches. Instead of just tossing in food bits into the unit as it’s working, you’d need to feed in your solid waste into the disposal unit one batch after another, making sure to cover your kitchen sink drain with a stopper to activate the device.

Disposal units in this category pose a lesser safety risk as food items can’t fly out of the drain since the kitchen sink drain must be covered for the device to run.

With these models, you wouldn’t need to install additional wall switches, making them a brilliant choice for use on kitchen stands.

The one limitation of disposal units in this category is that they are relatively more expensive, which means you might have very limited options as far as freedom of choice goes.

How do garbage disposals work?

water in garbage disposal
Photo credit: Dean Hochman on

A garbage disposal is known to be a receptacle for almost anything our human minds consider as garbage. They are mostly suited for churning up food scraps and breaking them down to be taken through the plumbing and into the sewers. Garbage disposals are durable and work using parts such as the shredder ring and impellers. These parts break down the food into fine particles and the running water flushes them out of the grind ring into the wastewater pipe.

When you turn on your garbage disposal unit, food particles are pressed and ground against the walls of the grinding chamber by rapidly spinning discs or impeller plates. This breaks down the solid food waste products into tiny bits, which are then washed off by water through holes in the grinding chamber walls specifically designed for that purpose.

Contrary to popular belief, garbage disposal units do not crush solid food waste using sharp blades. Instead, they have impeller plates which have two metal blunt “teeth” known as impellers that help crush solid food waste.

Factors to Consider Before Installing A Garbage Disposal

After the ever-important decision-making factor called “budget”, here are three questions you need to answer honestly before buying and installing a garbage disposal system:

  1. Can My Plumbing Pipes Handle The Load?If you live in a relatively new house, chances are the plumber that installed the drainage system in your home used PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes, which makes handling food debris a breeze leading to fewer clogs in your pipes.

    However, if your home drainage system was built using cast-iron pipes, there is a very high probability of clogs blocking them up over time.

    Generally, the more susceptible your pipes are to clogging, the less good installing a garbage disposal unit would do you- unless you decide to do a total overhaul of your drainage system.

  2. Do I have A Large Enough Septic Tank?
    Many garbage disposal units claim to be compatible with septic units, but there seems to be a fair resistance to that claim by plumbers.It is advisable to increase the capacity of your septic tanks if you plan on installing a garbage disposal unit, but you’d need to consult your local septic system inspector before taking any step. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

    You’d also need to pump your septic tanks more frequently at least once a year than the usually recommended once-in-three-years interval.

  3. Do I have Enough Space Under My Sink?Although garbage disposal units come in various shapes and sizes, most models fall in ranges usually 10 to 15 inches high, 5 to 9 inches wide, and 6 to 13 inches deep.

    How large a garbage disposal unit is depends to a large extent on how much sound insulation it has.

    Once you’re certain your home’s plumbing system can accommodate a garbage disposal unit, you’d need to measure underneath your kitchen sink to be sure you have enough room to install a unit as the device is attached directly to the underside of your sink’s drain.

When Do I Need A New Garbage Disposal Unit Installed?

cracks in garbage disposalIf you already have a garbage disposal unit installed and you notice that

  • It has started leaking, or
  • It doesn’t grind as fast as it used to, or
  • It makes unusually loud noises, or
  • You have to click the reset button often,

Chances are you’d need to get a replacement as soon as possible. Because garbage disposal units have lifespans of 10 years and above, they are built to last, which means they would have some advanced technical components which would require the expertise of a professional plumbing company to install.

Here at Captain Plumber, we specialize in repairs, replacement, and installation of garbage disposal units. Need to get in touch with us? Contact us here now.

What are the problems garbage disposals can have?

It’s easy to know that all garbage disposals suffer a great deal of use and misuse. Some develop problems from wear and tear while others suffer a lack of maintenance. Putting inappropriate items into the garbage disposal can cause it to jam. If the appliance is tough enough to eat this item, it can lead to even more problems. Tough items like plastic or metal can burn out the motor completely.

Other problems you can experience with your garbage disposal are clogs, leaks, and noises. These issues get worse if a jam is left unfixed for too long. There are also cases where the garbage disposal stops working for no apparent reason. Captain Plumber is a company dedicated to saving the day with expert plumbing services. Hence, no matter the problems with your garbage disposal, we are fully equipped and experienced to tackle it.

The signs that your garbage disposal unit needs repair include bad odors, clogs, leaks, jam, and humming, loud, or strange noises.

Precautions when using the garbage disposal

flowers in the garbage disposal
Photo credit: garann on

We know it seems like your garbage disposal can ‘eat’ anything you throw in. However, here are some items you must avoid feeding into the appliance.

  • Paper or wood
  • Grease, oils, and fats
  • Meat, bones, skin, or lard
  • Hard seeds of fruits, coconut shells, and pineapple shoots
  • Any fibrous foods such as celery or banana peels

Fixing minor clogging issues

When your garbage disposal requires a repair, only a professional should be hired to fix it. Meanwhile, there are still minor clogs you can fix or steps you can try before calling a professional plumber. Check the bottom of your garbage disposal for a RESET button. Turn the disposal off first, then wait a few minutes before using the RESET button. If this doesn’t work, reach out to us immediately.

If the problem is a leak and not a jam, don’t hesitate to call us first at Captain Plumber.

We provide excellent garbage disposal installation services for all styles of disposal. Our plumbers always ensure that the disposal is connected to a power source and plumbing system. With Captain Plumber, you don’t have to worry about water damage or leaky pipes. Contact us for installation, maintenance, or repair quotes.

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