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How to Tell When Your Garbage Disposal Needs to be Replaced

Garbage Disposal Needs to be Replaced

Garbage disposals are extremely useful kitchen appliances that allow for the disposal of most small food scraps down the sink. However, over time disposals can also be susceptible to wear and tear and breakdown. Homeowners should always be aware of the condition of their disposal and should consider calling a professional when any of these signs occur.

Dull Blades

Good garbage disposals should be able to handle grinding most food items. If the disposal is having a hard time getting rid of even softer items such as apple slices, this is a sign that the blades are dull in the appliance. This could also be an indication that your disposal has lost some of its power and will need a replacement.

Stubborn Odors

All garbage disposals can have odors occasionally. Often, these odors can be eliminated by cleaning the machine or by grinding lemon slices. If you have already tried running lemons, baking soda, and vinegar through the disposal and it is still harboring stubborn odors, it may be time for a replacement.


There are certain foods and substances that should never be run through the garbage disposal. Fibrous items such as asparagus, celery, or rhubarb can cause jams in the system. Some older disposals, however, can become jammed even when trying to grind perfectly acceptable items such as vegetable scraps or small pieces of meat.

Unusual Sounds

Although high-powered disposals can be relatively quiet, many sounds are perfectly normal for a garbage disposal to make. However, new sounds such as rattling, squealing, or metal on metal are all indications that the appliance is not working correctly. Any of these sounds may indicate that something has come loose and needs to be replaced.


Leaking is often an indication that the disposal will have to be replaced rather than repaired. Some leaks can mean that the appliance is damaged or cracked, and a plumber can help to diagnose the problem and replace the unit as needed.

The Disposal is Not Operational

Sometimes when the disposal is not operating at all it may be an electrical problem such as an unplugged appliance or a tripped breaker. If all of these factors are eliminated, however, and the disposal is still not turning on, there is likely a problem with the disposal itself.

Clogs Leading to Slow Draining

A slow draining garbage disposal may simply need to be turned on for a few minutes to clear out food particles and debris. However, if the disposal is clear of food and debris and the drain is still draining slowly, there is probably a problem with the drain. It is important to remember that unclogging products can damage garbage disposals, so it is best to contact a plumber to help with the garbage disposal replacement

Life Expectancy of Garbage Disposals

Typical garbage disposals will last somewhere between eight and fifteen years. That means that if you have had the appliance for a long time, or if it is the same one that was in the kitchen when you moved into the home, it is likely that the disposal is old and at the end of its life expectancy. If several of the previous signs have been observed in the disposal and it is more than 8 years old, it may simply be time to invest in new disposal as part of your regular home maintenance.

Proper Garbage Disposal Care

Using the garbage disposal carefully and adhering to a set of guidelines will help the appliance to last much longer. It is important to know what you can put down the disposal, and what is better of being placed in the trash.

Most owners of garbage disposals know that grease, large bones, non-food items, vegetable peelings, and eggshells should not be placed down the disposal. It is also helpful to always run the disposal with cold water. Doing so will help the grease to cool and form into small clumps that can then pass harmlessly through the plumbing.

Your disposal may be a convenience in the kitchen that you don’t give much thought to. However, when it starts to break down it can become a priority for you to fix. Instead of waiting for it to stop being operational, you should call your plumber as soon as you notice any of these signs. 

Alpha Plumbing is proud to have been serving in the south bay area for many years. Our family-owned business is focused on improving the lives of our customers through high-quality plumbing repair and installation.