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Everything you need to know about garbage disposals: models & installation

Last modified: 2021-06-10 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

Garbage disposals were invented in America in the late 1920s, but it was only during the postwar years that there was a growth in the installation of this device in the private homes of North Americans.

Nowadays, we’d say this tool isn’t as popular, in part because more and more municipalities across the country offer to compost. However, in some cases installing a shredder is still an attractive option.

In this article, we’re going to present the garbage disposal, the advantages and disadvantages, the different models, the prices, and what can and cannot be shredded by them.

Évier avec broyeur

What are garbage disposals used for?

The main purpose of garbage disposals is to pulverize food waste and depending on the model, sometimes other items. This tool works by shredding food into tiny particles to prevent it from blocking your pipes.

These devices are connected to sewers, so waste is sent to the sewage treatment plant (if you’re connected to the city system).

They’re installed below your sink, where the water flows to the drain. For cleaning, it’s recommended to insert ice cubes about once a month and activate the crusher. Of course, you should consult the manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance.

Évier

What are the advantages of garbage disposals?

First of all, these devices are very easy to use. They reduce odours in the kitchen and help get rid of leftover food quickly. They also allow fewer sink blockages and make cleaning this part of the kitchen easier.

For those who don’t have access to composting amenities, garbage disposals also reduce the amount of waste that’s sent to the landfill.

Their disadvantages

These devices take up space (especially if you have a small kitchen). They are more environmentally friendly than composting (but if you have no other options, we’d say they’re better than nothing). In addition, they consume water and electricity. It’s important to know that these devices cannot crush metals, plastics or get rid of chemical residues so you have to be careful what you put into them and your sink.

Also, if you don't choose the right model, the shredder itself can be noisy. Further, garbage disposals cannot be installed in some buildings. If you live in a condo, check the regulations. This is because the type of plumbing system installed in the building may not cooperate with garbage disposals.

You should also know that in some places, these devices are heavily regulated. For example, in Sherbrooke, where compost has been offered by the city for over 15 years, garbage disposals will soon be banned because of their impact on the city's sewer systems among other things. Check with your municipality before proceeding with this installation and to find out if there are exceptions.

Épluchures à mettre dans broyeur

What can go in your garbage disposal?

Here are the foods you can shred in most garbage disposals (as mentioned, please always consult the instruction manual that comes with your appliance):

  • Fruit and vegetable peels
  • Leftover meat (except bones)
  • Fish (including bones)
  • Walnut shells
  • Pastry
  • Eggshells (but beware of the membrane which can create problems)
  • Fruit stones (if your grinder is powerful)
  • Teabags (not plastic ones)

What should not go in your garbage disposal?

Here are the main foods and items that shouldn’t be put into this device:

  • Fat, oil, butter (if you do this, be sure to harden the fat using cold water before grinding)
  • Fibrous vegetables like celery and asparagus (if your grinder isn't strong enough)
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Coffee
  • Fruit stones (in less powerful models)
  • Bones (except fish bones)

Broyeur à évier

What are the different garbage disposal models on the market?

As mentioned, the main part of the garbage disposal is installed under the sink, so the aesthetic appearance of this device doesn’t vary greatly from model to model.

The main differences between models are seen more in the level of the motor force, the size of the grinding chamber, the noise, and the lifespan of the device.

First, you should choose your model according to the number of people who live in your home. The more you are, the more powerful a machine you’ll need. Also, check that the model is suitable for your kitchen plumbing.

Lower-end models will have a shorter lifespan and will generally be noisier. Further, lower-quality materials will tend to be affected by corrosion more quickly.

Most models have a lifespan of between 8 to 15 years. Do bear in mind that higher-quality models will also consume less electricity and be more durable.

Compost

What are the average prices of a garbage disposal?

If you take a look at the websites of plumbing stores and home improvement superstores, you’ll likely notice a price difference between the models.

On average, most models of garbage disposals cost between $200 and $500 (some models cost up to $700, others cost less than $200). It all depends on the power of the motor, the size of the chamber, and the other factors that we’ve presented in this article.

Before you buy, be sure to compare products by reading people's reviews.

Next, you must take into account the installation, usually done by a plumber, although some models pride themselves on being able to be installed by people with no experience.

To learn more about the fees charged by plumbers, see this article: Cost of Plumbing Renovations.

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