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No kitchen is complete without a garbage disposal to make life easier. However, not all garbage disposals are created the same, which means you have a number of options you need to consider.

So if you’re buying a new home or considering renovations, read the following buyer’s guide to make sure you pick the perfect garbage disposal.

Feed Type

Every garbage disposal falls into one of two categories depending on feed type. There’s batch and continuous.

Continuous is the most common type available. You simply turn it on with a switch and begin feeding it your leftover food items.

However, you do need to run water down it while it’s running or you can encounter a host of problems. It gets its name because you can continuously insert food into the garbage disposal while it goes on grinding.

The other type is called a batch feed. With this kind of garbage disposal, you have to first put the cover over it before it will begin grinding your food. Here’s a handy video from Insinkerator explaining their batch feed disposal:

People who choose a batch feed disposal generally favor it for safety reasons. It absolutely cannot function until the stopper is put over it, so there’s no chance of the blades getting a hold of a body part.

However, you typically need the disposal to be full before it will begin grinding.

Motor Size

You’ll also need to consider the motor size of your garbage disposal. Obviously, you don’t want to pay for more than you need, but if you end up with less than necessary, the garbage disposal will be useless. Here are your options:

One third to one half horsepower: small amounts of waste Three-fourths horsepower: appropriate for the amount of waste left by two or more people Above three-fourths horsepower: capable of grinding up waste materials as tough as chicken bones

While you may not have designs to grind up material like chicken bones, there are other advantages to having more horsepower.

For example, the more powerful your engine, the easier a time it will have in going through typical food items. This not only means it’s less likely you’ll get a disposal that jams, but also that your engine will last longer thanks to an easier workload.

Drain Connection

Most residential garbage disposals will all use the same drain size, which is three-and-a-half inches around. However, it pays to be sure before investing in a unit. So check yours first.


You’ll also want to make sure you measure how much garbage disposal your kitchen sink area is able to fit. The capacity of your machine is how much it can hold while still operating properly.

This amount is measured in ounces. Obviously, the larger the capacity of your garbage disposal, the less room you’ll have below your sink.

Other Features

Garbage disposals today can come with a number of extra features you may want in your device.

For example, many come with anti-jamming technology. While this can mean a number of things, the idea is that it makes it easier for your machine to avoid jams.

Some will also come with a reset button you can use for the motor. Check out our guide on quickly resetting your garbage disposal.

The most advanced models are capable of reversing the blades, too. This is especially helpful when a jam occurs, as it can release the debris causing the issue.

Some units boast sound minimizing technology. By taking advantage of more fluid moving parts and insulation, the loud noise typically associated with a garbage disposal can be brought down to a reasonable volume.

Some machines can make the process 30% quieter while others can bring down the noise by as much as 60%.

You can also find units that will connect to your dishwasher. This way, if that machine comes across solid food items, it simply passes them over to the garbage disposal for processing.

There’s really no end to the add-ons you can find for modern dishwashers. There are kinds to assist with septic tanks, anti-corrosion measures, self-service wrenches and components that stifle splashes, amongst other things.

Simply be certain about what your priorities are with a machine so you don’t end up spending more than you need to on things you don’t care about.

Buying Your Machine

Due to all the bells and whistles, it’s suggested you collect plenty of information about any make and model you’re considering and stack them up against each other, including the price. Your local hardware or home store may even have brochures about their best sellers.

PRO TIP: When comparing garbage disposal prices from your local plumber to your local hardware store or big box retailer, make sure to check if the prices INCLUDE the power chord. Many times big box retailers or hardware stores will not include the power chord (which can cost up to $15+) when your local plumbers will!

While we hope this buyer’s guide helps make the process of choosing a garbage disposal easier, we caution against trying to install one on your own. Unless you have a background in plumbing, it will be a demanding task that carries a lot of risks.

Instead, give us a call at Deer Valley Plumbing Contractors, Inc. For 25 years, we’ve helped homeowners in the Phoenix, AZ area pick the fixtures that are right for their home and made installation a breeze.

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