AppliancesConsumer Guides

Garbage Disposals

How they work?

Garbage disposals are pretty simple, and they all work on a similar principle. They have a flat plate with small, rotating, steel mashers, and an inner disposal wall that has “teeth” to do the job of grinding your food waste. A motor inside the unit rotates the flat plate in the food-grinding area. When you switch the unit on, the mashers are forced to swing toward the outside of the spinning plate.

Disposals should be run just until the food has been ground up-which is usually less than 30 seconds. Also, make sure to run a full stream of cold water through the disposal while it grinds. Then let the water run for another 30 seconds after you turn off the disposal.

Types of disposals

There are two primary types of disposals:

Continuous feed

When you place food in the disposal and switch it on, the mashers force food against the teeth of the inner wall and shred it. The shredded food then falls through small holes between the spinning plate and the inside walls, and is diverted into the drainpipe.

The job of the rubber shield at the top of the disposal is to keep fast-moving food particles from being ejected out of the disposal. The stopper lets you plug the sink to hold water when you’re not using the disposal.

Batch feed

Batch feed disposals function exactly like continuous feed disposals, with the difference being how you turn them on. To turn these disposals on, you place a special stopper in the disposal opening and turn it. The stopper activates a switch that turns on the disposal.

Your disposal can jam if something solid or tough gets lodged between the spinning plate and the inside wall of the disposal. There aren’t many parts of your garbage disposal that you can or should service yourself, so be sure to call a service professional for any repairs your disposal may need. Never get your hands near the opening while it is running.

Tip: To reduce odors and freshen your drain smell, try grinding a lemon rind into your disposal.

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