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Garbage Disposal Basics – All You Need to Know

Garbage Disposal Basics – All You Need to Know

Garbage Disposal Devices – What You Need To Know

History of the Garbage Disposal

The electric-powered garbage disposal was invented in 1927 by John W. Hammes. He applied for a patent in 1933, and the patent was granted in 1935. He formed the InSinkErator Company and put his disposer onto the market in 1940. The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emerson Electric Company, is still in existence today, and is the leading manufacturer of garbage disposal units in the USA.

It wasn’t easy at first. In the 1930s and 1940s, many cities in the United States had regulations prohibiting placing food waste (garbage) into the municipal sewer system. InSinkErator worked hard to convince many local municipal systems to rescind these prohibitions, and was eventually successful.

In New York City, for example, garbage disposals were illegal in New York City: it was believed that they would cause damage to the city’s sewer system. The ban was reversed in 1997.

Kitchen garbage disposal units are present in about 50% of all homes in the USA. They are also popular in Australia, but are less common in other developed countries. For instance, in the UK, only 6% of homes have a garbage disposal unit installed.

Garbage disposal units typically use a high-torque, insulated electric motor, usually rated at 250–750 watts (⅓ to 1 horsepower) for a domestic unit.

Types of Feed – Which Is Right For You?

There are two different types of garbage disposal units: Continuous-Feed models and batch-feed models.

Continuous-feed models let the user push new waste into the unit as the old waste is ground up and washed down, meaning you can continue to feed material into the unit while it is running. This type requires a hard-wire installation under the sink and you must connect a wall switch for operation. If you are replacing an existing garbage disposal unit, this is often the simplest choice.

Batch-feed models require you to load them with a batch of waste and then use the stopper to activate the blades to start the grinding mechanism. Batch-feed models are perfect for the homeowner who is remodeling a kitchen or wants to add a disposer but isn’t set up with a pre-existing wall switch.

Leading brands of Garbage Disposal Units:

  • InSinkErator (a subsidiary of Emerson Electric)
  • Waste King
  • General Electric
  • Kitchen Aid (manufactured by Whirlpool)
  • Whirlaway
  • Kenmore (made by InSinkerator specially for Sears)
  • Viking
  • Waste King and Whirlaway are made by the same company.


  • Always operate garbage disposal unit with water running;
  • Use cold water only;
  • Do not place fibrous food material into unit;
  • Use a lemon, cut into pieces, to eliminate odors;
  • Broken glass is the best thing to clean out a garbage disposal unit: it sharpens the blades, cleans out the unit, scours the pipes, and won’t cling to pipes downstream;
  • Continue to flush with cold running water for half a minute after running unit.

Some garbage disposal units are designed specifically for use with septic systems: others cannot be used with septic systems.

Size of motor ranges from ½ horsepower to over 5 HP.

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