How Long Should A Garbage Disposal Last?

Garbage disposals are a handy addition to nearly any kitchen – they help keep your plumbing free of food clogs and effortlessly take care of food scraps. With a garbage disposal, you don’t need to meticulously pick wayward food scraps from the sink to avoid a troublesome clog. Instead, you can rinse the leftover scraps into the disposal canister, flip the switch, and let the unit do its thing.

Key Points:

  • Garbage disposals can usually last from 8 to 15 years, depending on usage and maintenance.
  • Indicators that a garbage disposal needs replacement include frequent resets, leaking, continual clogging, and performance issues.
  • Common causes of garbage disposal mechanism failure are improper use and foreign objects possibly clogging the unit.

But how long do garbage disposals actually last? How do you know when it’s time to replace the appliance? Let’s find out!

How Long Do Garbage Disposals Last?

On average, most garbage disposals last between 8 and 15 years. Some models might last longer, especially those in homes where they’re used infrequently. Conversely, some models might tap out sooner, particularly in busy households where they’re used daily (or multiple times per day).

So, while they can last up to 15 years, their lifespans vary based on the model, usage, and maintenance.

How Do I Know If My Garbage Disposal Needs To Be Replaced?

As your garbage disposal reaches the end of its lifespan and is ready to tap out, it’ll give various indications that its time is coming to an end. Here are a few common signs of a worn-out garbage disposal that needs a replacement:

Frequent Resets

If you’re constantly resetting your garbage disposal, there is a good chance the unit has a significant problem. While the culprit may originate elsewhere, like power issues with the circuit, some can stem from the unit itself.

The reset button is only intended for occasional use when the device needs to recover from unusual situations, like an abnormally large load or major blockage. When the unit is in good shape, these occurrences should be rare and infrequent, but resets might be necessary more frequently if the unit is wearing out.

So, the unit might be wearing out if you’re resetting your garbage disposal every time you turn it on or a couple of times per week. However, this issue can stem from loose wiring, so if your garbage disposal is relatively new, be sure to rule this out before replacing the unit.

Problematic Leaks

A leaky garbage disposal is problematic, as water pooling in your kitchen cabinet can lead to cabinet deterioration and mold or mildew growth. Because of this, it’s essential to address leaks as they arise.

While some leaks are easy to fix, others are more involved and complex. If your garbage disposal has sprung a noticeable leak, perhaps due to a damaged canister or drain assembly issue, replacing the entire unit might be more sensible. Of course, minor leaks might be fixable, but some call for a complete replacement.

Constant Clogs

Blockages and clogs are common problems with garbage disposals. They usually stem from user errors, like putting the wrong food items in the disposal or running it without water. In some cases, they can occur due to a worn-out unit.

As the unit reaches the end of its lifespan, it might struggle to grind food into tiny pieces, allowing large food particles to end up in the drain. Eventually, the larger pieces may get caught in the drain assembly, leading to persistent clogs. Since this issue can stem from the unit’s inability to grind food scraps properly, it’ll be an ongoing problem.

If your garbage disposal is constantly clogging and you’re not doing anything wrong (no improper food items, no foreign objects, always running it with water, etc.), it could indicate the unit is on its way out. While it doesn’t hurt to troubleshoot these issues, frequent clogs occurring for no apparent reason often indicate a dying garbage disposal unit.

Performance Problems

When a garbage disposal is nearing the end of its lifespan, it may begin having performance issues. It might not crush food scraps very well, taking longer to do so and making abnormal sounds while running.

When this happens, it usually signifies it’s nearing the end of its lifespan, and a replacement will likely be necessary in the near future.

Strange Noises

If your garbage disposal makes abnormal noises while it runs, it might be on its way out. Sometimes, these problems stem from a foreign object in the canister, like a piece of silverware caught in the impellers.

It’s usually relatively easy to check for foreign objects, as you can peek inside the canister with a flashlight. If there’s something in there, you can lift it out with tongs or pliers (never use your hands!). Generally, removing the object will correct the problem.

However, if your garbage disposal is producing strange noises for no reason, it could be a sign of a dying unit. These noises can indicate a faulty motor, which can happen due when something is stuck in the system for a prolonged period. When the motor fails, it’s usually more cost-effective to replace the unit altogether.

Pungent Odors

Given the job of a garbage disposal, it’s no surprise that they can get pretty smelly after a while, especially without regular cleaning. You can usually correct the issue with a thorough cleaning and regular maintenance, but if the problem persists, it could point to another issue.

For example, food particles could be getting stuck in areas of the unit they shouldn’t be, making it difficult to eliminate the smell. It may be possible to eliminate the problem with troubleshooting and a deep clean, but if your unit is old and beginning to fail, it might be best to get rid of it and start fresh with a new one.

Persistent Power Issues

Power issues may pop up occasionally throughout your garbage disposal’s lifespan, but if these issues become a regular occurrence, the unit is likely on its last leg. Some power issues, like issues with cord damage, are easily fixable, so repairs are straightforward.

However, other power issues, like problems with the unit’s motor, are not quite as easily repairable. In most cases, replacing a dying garbage disposal motor is pricey, so replacing it isn’t a logical solution. Instead, it usually makes more sense to replace the entire unit.

Of course, power issues with the garbage disposal might stem from elsewhere, like problems with your electrical system or the circuit the unit runs on. So, before tossing your garbage disposal, it doesn’t hurt to test the outlet the system is plugged into to rule that out.

Is It Better To Repair Or Replace A Garbage Disposal?

To repair or replace? The answer to this hinges on the problem. With some problems, the repairs are minor and fairly inexpensive. However, with some issues, fixing the problem would almost cost as much as purchasing a new unit.

We recommend repairing the device if the issue is minor and/or the unit is relatively new. In some cases, the model may still be under warranty, so you might not need to pay for repairs.

On the flip side, we recommend replacing the device if it has a crop of issues or repair costs are comparable to purchasing a new unit. In these cases, it’s usually more logical and cost-effective to invest in a new unit instead of pouring money into the old disposal.

Do Garbage Disposals Have A Warranty?

Most popular garbage disposals come with a warranty, although the scope of the warranty varies based on the brand. For example, consider InSinkErator garbage disposals, one of the industry’s leading brands. With these products, warranties range from one year to several years, with the length hinging on the model.

If your garbage disposal breaks down when it’s within its warranty period, the company may offer a solution for the problem. However, some companies require customers to register their products to receive the warranty, so be sure to check this when purchasing a new model.

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