Having a garbage disposal can be extremely convenient. As long as used properly, it can also help protect your plumbing from clogs by ensuring any food particles are pulverized before being flushed down your pipes. Whether you’re considering installing a garbage disposal or trying to decide whether it’s time to replace your old unit, it is important to know how long the disposal should last. For this reason, we’ve produced this guide to help you understand the typical lifespan of a garbage disposal and also what steps to take to ensure the unit lasts as long as it should.
Average Lifespan of a Garbage Disposal
A garbage disposal will generally last for somewhere around 10 years. However, the biggest determining factor in how long your unit will last is how often it is used and how well you take care of it. If you take good care of your disposal and make sure to only use it as it should be, you may be able to get much more than a decade out of it. On the other hand, if you treat the unit like a trash can and put things down it that you shouldn’t, then you could easily find yourself needing to replace the disposal within a few years.
Maintenance Tips to Extend the Lifespan of Your Garbage Disposal
The most important thing you can do to protect the lifespan of your garbage disposal is to make sure you only use it for the purposes it was designed for. A garbage disposal should really only be used to handle small bits of leftover food and such, and not as a secondary trash receptacle. This means you should still make sure to scrape your plates before rinsing them and not put anything into the unit that is larger than it can easily handle.
You also need to avoid putting anything into the disposal that could damage it or clog your pipes. This includes things like bones, coffee grounds, egg shells, fat, oil and grease. Fibrous fruits or vegetables like potato skins, celery, broccoli, and banana peels should also never go into the disposal as these can bind up the blades and clog the unit. Over time, this can cause the motor to burn out, in which case you’ll need to replace the unit.
It is also important that you take the time to thoroughly clean your garbage disposal regularly. You should really be cleaning the unit every two weeks or so if you use it daily or every month if it gets less frequent use. Even if you’re not using the disposal daily, you should still turn on the cold water and run the unit for 30 seconds or so every day to prevent the blades from rusting. It can also help to occasionally run ice cubes and rock salt through the unit as this will help to remove any leftover waste stuck inside the unit.
There are a number of different options for cleaning your garbage disposal. One of the easiest methods is to pour baking soda down the drain followed by a cup or two of white vinegar. Let this mixture sit inside the unit for 30 minutes or so, and then turn on the cold water and run the unit for another 30 seconds. This method can be a huge help for both eliminating any food particles stuck inside the unit and also preventing odors. Occasionally running lemon, orange or other citrus peels down the disposal is another great way to freshen it up and prevent it from smelling.
You should also make sure to give the unit a more thorough cleaning on occasion. To do this, first flip the switch on the unit or unplug it from the power source to make sure it can’t turn on while you’re cleaning. Next, take a long-handled brush and thoroughly scrub the entire inside of the unit with soap and water to remove anything stuck to the sides of the disposal or the blades. After scrubbing the unit, then proceed to use the vinegar and baking soda method to ensure everything is fully clean.
One important thing to know is that garbage disposals should only ever be used with cold water. Using hot water will melt any fat or grease that goes down the drain, which can cause it to stick to the blades and eventually gum up the unit. Make sure to turn the cold water on before turning the disposal on and leave the water running for 20 to 30 seconds after shutting off the disposal to ensure everything is flushed out of the unit and down your pipes.
Signs That Your Garbage Disposal Is Failing
There are numerous signs that can indicate that your garbage disposal is failing and needs to be either repaired or replaced. One common sign is when you find yourself needing to frequently use the unit’s reset button. If the disposal gets too large of a load or is clogged, it will automatically shut off to prevent damage. When this happens, you’ll need to hit the reset button before the unit will turn back on. If everything is working properly, you should rarely, if ever, need to reset the unit. However, if you find yourself having to do this almost all the time, it either indicates that the unit is starting to fail or that the wiring is loose.
You may also run into situations where the unit begins to clog almost every time you use it even with very small loads. In this situation, the issue indicates that either you need a higher-capacity unit or that the disposal can no longer function properly and needs to be replaced. A similar issue is when the disposal starts working much more slowly than it used to and takes much longer to break down food particles. This usually indicates that the blades need to be sharpened or replaced. However, if the blades are too deteriorated, it is typically necessary to replace the entire unit.
Another common problem with aging garbage disposals is that they start to shut themselves off while in use. This problem could indicate an issue with the unit’s wiring or your electrical system. However, it is most commonly an indication that the unit’s motor is starting to fail.
One final sign that your disposal needs to be replaced or repaired is if it starts leaking water. Over time, the connections where the disposal meets the rest of your plumbing system can begin to deteriorate. If caught early enough, the problem may be able to be repaired. Unfortunately, most of the time the leak won’t really be noticeable until it gets to the point that the entire unit needs to be replaced.
Professional Plumbing and Home Services
If you’re currently experiencing any issues with your garbage disposal or need to have your unit replaced, the professional plumbers at Fusion Plumbing & Air are up to the task. Our company specializes in a wide range of plumbing services including drain cleaning, hydro-jetting and sewer line repairs. We also install and service water filtration systems as well as traditional and tankless water heaters. Our team also includes certified HVAC technicians that install, repair and maintain all types of heating and cooling systems. With locations in Tucson and Queen Creek, we serve customers throughout the Phoenix metro area. If you need garbage disposal service or any other plumbing or HVAC service, contact us today to see how we can help.