When Should I Replace My Garbage Disposal?

January 04, 2018

Garbage disposal should last up to 12 years, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). But, like any appliance, how you treat it determines whether it lives longer—or shorter—than the average lifespan.

Wondering if it’s time to ditch your disposal?

Well, you should replace your garbage disposal if you see these 5 signs:

  1. It clogs often (either the blades are getting dull, or you need a larger disposal)
  2. You have to press the RESET button often
  3. Food takes longer and longer to grind
  4. The unit is leaky
  5. The unit is making loud noises

We’ll explain each of these 5 signs and why they indicate that you need a new garbage disposal.

Replace your garbage disposal when…

...it clogs often.

If your garbage disposal is constantly clogging, it most likely either means that 

  1. The blades are getting dull 
  2. Your garbage disposal is too small

You see, when the disposal blades can’t properly break down food, large particles will either clog the disposal itself or create a clog further down in the sink’s drain pipes.

Another reason your disposal might be clogging often is because it’s undersized for your needs. Garbage disposals are sized by their horsepower. The higher the horsepower, the more food it can break down in one sitting. So, if your garbage disposal is constantly clogging and you need to replace it, look into installing a bigger model.

Not sure what size you should get? Use our garbage disposal sizing guidelines below:

  • 1-2 person household: 1/3 or ½ HP motor
  • 3-6 person household: ½ to ¾ HP motor
  • 5-8 person household: minimum HP is ¾ but a 1 HP motor is best
  • 8+ person household: 1 to 2 HP motor

...you have to press the RESET button often.

Your reset button is the small red button on the bottom of the actual disposal unit. This button restores the electrical power after the disposal’s motor overloads and trips the circuit breaker.

View from the bottom of a garbage disposal.

So, if you find yourself having to use the RESET more and more, it’s a sign that your garbage disposal motor is getting weaker and needs to be replaced.

...food starts to take longer to grind.

If the amount of food you’re sending down the disposal hasn’t changed but the time your disposal takes to grind down the food gets longer and longer, you probably need a new unit.

This means that either the blades are getting dull, or the motor is getting weak and can no longer handle the workload it was designed for.

...the bottom of the unit is leaky.

If you’ve noticed persistent leaking at the bottom of your garbage disposal, it typically means that there are cracks on the inside of the unit. These cracks can occur over time from normal wear and tear and the only way to fix the problem is to completely replace the unit.

...the unit makes loud humming noises but doesn’t churn.

If your garbage disposal hums loudly but doesn’t actually turn on, it’s most likely due to a dead motor.

The humming noise you hear indicates that the unit is receiving electrical power, but the motor had died and can’t turn on to grind food particles. And, because repairing the disposal motor often costs the same as a new unit, we suggest you just replace the disposal for a new model.

Need help from a Colorado Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, or Electrical Specialist? 

For your convenience, you can request an appointment in one of two ways:

  • Call us at (303) 436-2525 for immediate assistance.
  • Click on the button below to schedule your appointment online.


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