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Plumbing Improvements for Your Decatur or Hartselle, AL Home: The Garbage Disposal

Still in the midst of your dream Kitchen Makeover, the general contractor is handling the granite countertops and backsplash and your Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber is helping with plumbing appliances, including the waste disposal.

In this post we take a look at garbage disposals and plumbing because, well, waste disposers are not your mother’s garbage disposals of the ‘80s, ’90s, or even ’00.

The Basics

It doesn’t matter what you call it — the garbage disposal, a garbage disposer, or a grinder, they all do the same thing: grind up kitchen scraps and waste and send it down the kitchen drain.

Most homeowners do not spend time on choosing a garbage disposal when it’s time to make a decision — either at the point of new construction, remodeling, or replacing an aged unit. That choice is left up to a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber, builder, or general contractor, but there are a few points worth considering. Don’t just leave it up to somebody else.

The basic considerations are:

  • horsepower
  • noise level
  • warranty
  • continuous feed vs. batch feed

Garbage Disposer Considerations

As noted, the garbage disposer is a wonderful plumbing appliance for the kitchen but most homeowners and Top Chefs give it no thought — at least until it stops working and you either try to fix it or troubleshoot it yourself or decide to call a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor.

Most people do not realize how much waste they are sending down the drain instead of sending to the trash can. A quality garbage disposer can handle more than just scraps from the dinner plate, with nearly all food debris created during meal prep doing down the drain. Some items to avoid are fibrous foods like corn husks and stuff that tends to clog the drain like coffee grounds.

There are two basic types of garbage disposer to consider when purchasing:

  • batch feed
  • continuous feed, the most common

The model you choose is mostly a matter of personal preference.

Continuous Feed

The continuous feed disposer model runs only switched on. The switch can be a regular wall switch or a counter top “air switch” (a non-electrical switch safe for wet environments).

The disposer is operated by turning on the cold water, switching on the disposer and dropping suitable kitchen debris in the drain hole in the sink. After the debris has been thoroughly ground up, turn off the disposer and then a few seconds later turn off the water.

The advantage of this disposer over a batch feed model is that you can continuously to feed in garbage until you are done.

The disadvantage of this type is that it is more dangerous. Yes, people do absent-mindedly put their fingers into the drain trying to fish something out and accidentally turn on the switch. Perhaps more to the point, unseen items like small spoons, silverware, and small pieces or parts fall into the drain, you don’t know they are there, you turn on the disposal, a loud noise ensues and — if you’re careful, you turn off the appliance; if not and you reach in . . . ouch! If this happens, chances are you go to the ER and not call your Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber.

Batch Feed

A batch feed disposer operates very similarly as a continuous feed except there is no switch to operate it. Instead the disposer is switched on by placing the drain plug in place and turning it.

You start by placing suitable kitchen waste into the disposer, turn on the cold water and install and turn the drain plug. When it has finished grinding, stop the disposer by turning the drain plug the other way.

The key advantage is safety. The disposer operates only when the cap is in place. It protects against something falling in while the disposer is operating and eliminates the need for a switch; although you may still need one as a way to quickly cut power to the unit.

One disadvantage is that you must repeatedly open and load the disposer when you have a large batch of debris to dispose of. Another is that if you misplace the cap or mistakenly throw it into the trash you cannot operate the disposer.

How Many Horsepower is Enough?

Residential garbage disposers range in power from 1/3 HP up to 1 HP. Most Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumbers recommend choosing a model with at least 1/2 HP to avoid most problems, but a 3/4 HP model is an even better choice. If you are a Top Chef and throw large quantities house of food prep and waste down the drain, a 1 HP disposer is ideal.

Features and considerations for a new disposer include:

  • Horsepower (see above)
  • Low decibel noise — these things can get loud
  • Disposers take up a lot of room under a sink, so make sure you have enough room for the installation and left over space underneath so the entire cabinet isn’t dedicated to pipes and one plumbing appliance
  • Note: Extra deep sinks may restrict the size of the disposer that can be installed. Subtract the depth of the sink from the interior height of the cabinet to calculate the available space for a disposer, leaving extra space so you can access the reset button and manual crank under the disposer in case it freezes up and needs to be “un-jammed.”
  • Some disposers come with a cord and a plug, others require hard-wired connections
  • An air switch can be placed anywhere (through the countertop, cabinet, or hidden behind a cabinet door) and is a non-electrical switch to operate the disposer.

Depending on your DIY plumbing skills and ability to contort into small places under the sink, you should be able to install the garbage disposer yourself.

If you have to do any plumbing or electrical wizardry or any carpentry for a successful installation, you may prefer to call a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor.