Choosing the Right Size Garbage Disposal

When it comes to replacing your garbage disposal, there are certainly a lot of options to choose from! And because it can get pretty confusing, we have created a guide including the factors you need to be aware of before you shop for a disposal, as well as a sizing guide and cost analysis so that you can confidently decide which option is best for your home. 

So if you want to find out how to choose the right garbage disposal, keep reading! Everything you need to know is right here. 

How does garbage disposal Works

To choose the right garbage disposal, you need to determine what size you need for your home, how much space you have under your sink, and check your pipes to find out what they can handle. It’s important that you pay attention not only to the size of the disposal but also to the horsepower of the machine. 

Determine what size you need for your family and entertaining

Garbage disposals usually last about 10 years and can often be fixed by a professional if there are small issues. However, if your garbage disposal needs to be replaced, you need to first understand what size you will need for your family and entertaining needs. 

But before you decide on the size, you first need to pick a style: Continuous-fed or batch-fed. 

Continuous-fed models are far more commonly used and affordable, and as the name suggests, you can continually toss food down the disposal as it works. 

Batch-fed models are slightly more expensive and need to be turned off before you place any food scraps inside. However, these options reduce the risk of injury or things getting stuck in the disposal as you use a protective stopper over the entry. 

Next, you should think about both the physical size and the motor size of the garbage disposal. 

To decide on the physical size of the garbage disposal, you need to check the space under your sink and assess how big the device can be and still fit comfortably. 

And when it comes to motor size, you should understand that you can choose from a ⅓, ½, ¼, or 1 horsepower disposal. The higher the horsepower, the more strength the device will have, which means it can handle more food scraps (and will be easier on your plumbing.)

5 Factors To Check Out Before You Purchase

But before you go out and purchase the strongest and most expensive garbage disposal on the market, there are 5 factors of your home and needs that you should check. 

Know the type of food you will grind

First things first, you should know the type of food you will grind in your garbage disposal. If you put the wrong foods or materials inside, it could cause the garbage disposal to fail.  

In regards to disposals, there are two categories of food, soft and hard. Soft foods include liquids, finely chopped foods, or anything that can easily be disposed of. Whereas hard foods are peeled fruits and vegetables or large pieces of unchopped foods. 

While most garbage disposals can handle both soft and hard foods, some are more equipped than others! So if you cook for your family and friends often and want a disposal where you can throw almost anything, you should look for an option that is great with hard foods.

Measure the space under your sink

Next, you need to measure the space under your sink to find out how big the garbage disposal can be while still fitting comfortably. 

With your measuring tape, you should evaluate the length, width, and height of the space below your sink, as well as the diameter of your sink drain, so you can compare it to the connection size of the disposal. 

Most kitchen sink drains are about 3.5 to 4 inches wide, and most garbage disposals claim they offer universal connections. However, you should still measure to ensure you don’t buy a disposal that won’t fit! 

Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular models on the market and their sizes.

ModelInSinkErator Garbage Disposal, Badger 5InSinkErator Garbage Disposal, Evolution Excel, 1.0 HP Continuous FeedWaste Maid 10-US-WM-048-3B Garbage Disposal Anti-Jam Stainless Steel
Height (in)11.51312.8
Width (in)6.3125.2
Connection (in)1-1.51.57/8

Are you looking for a quiet model?

Another factor to consider is whether or not you want to opt for a quiet model when selecting the perfect garbage disposal. 

As you may already know, garbage disposals can be quite loud, but now, there are tons of options that have noise-reducing technology to make your disposal quieter when in use. 

Quiet model Garbage Disposal Sample

Although garbage disposals that are either noise-reducing or completely silent may cost a bit more, they may be worth it if you like a calm kitchen. 

Can your sewer and pipes handle the job?

It’s also important to understand what kind of disposal your sewer and pipes can handle. 

Many of us don’t know a lot about the plumbing in our homes. However, pipe size and sewer systems can greatly affect what kind of disposal you should get. 

If your plumbing pipes are particularly small, i.e. less than 1 inch in diameter, you really need to opt for a fantastic garbage disposal as they are far more likely to get clogged with food bits. 

As well, if your sewer lines often get backed up, which you can see when your drains don’t drain properly, you should invest in a good disposal as the less efficient models could cause long-term problems for your plumbing. 

Which is better? Stainless steel vs metal

Finally, you need to decide whether you want to opt for a stainless steel or metal garbage disposal. 

Stainless steel

Overall, most people agree that stainless steel garbage disposals are the better option, but why is that the case?

Well, stainless steel disposals are more efficient, durable, and resistant against corrosion. They often last longer and need fewer repairs. However, they will usually cost a bit more than their metal counterparts.


Metal garbage disposals, such as those made from aluminum, are often the more budget-friendly option, but they can rust quite easily over time. 

Power is the key

Realistically, although it’s important to find a garbage disposal that fits your sink, your needs, and your budget, it’s really all about the horsepower. 

⅓  horsepower model benefits

Many basic garbage disposals have ⅓ horsepower. And while this is the least amount of power you can opt for, it is the most affordable option on the market. 

Garbage disposals that only have ⅓ horsepower usually can’t crush hard foods; they can only handle soft foods such as liquids and finely chopped leftovers. 

So if your home has more than two members and you use your disposal often for all types of food, ⅓ horsepower models probably aren’t for you. 

½ horsepower model benefits

Next on the list are the ½ horsepower models. And this option is really the lowest horsepower that you want to look for when choosing a decent disposal.

A great thing about ½ horsepower models is that they are usually small. So if you don’t have a lot of space under your sink, they can be a great choice. 

While ½ horsepower garbage disposals are also quite affordable, they can handle more food on a regular basis than the ⅓ options. 

However, you should still be aware that ½ horsepower disposals can’t handle constant use. 

¾ horsepower model benefits

On the other hand, ¾ horsepower garbage disposals are really the best option as they aren’t too expensive, but they can handle a lot more. 

If you have a three to five-person household and want a disposal that will function properly even with constant use and hard foods such as potato peels and not break the bank, a ¾ horsepower device is probably what you need. 

1 horsepower models benefits

You can also find some incredible 1 horsepower models on the market today. And although they will certainly cost quite a bit more than the other options, they will function the best and (usually) last the longest. 

Garbage disposals with 1 horsepower can grind almost any organic matter, including peeled fruits and vegetables (and even the peels themselves!)

At the end of the day, if you want the most powerful disposal, so you don’t have to worry about pipes getting blocked or food scraps getting stuck, you should opt for a 1 horsepower model. 

Installation costs

Finally, you will certainly want to know how much it will cost to install a replacement garbage disposal before you go ahead with the project. 

DIY install

If you want to replace your old garbage disposal yourself, it’s definitely possible! 

And if you have a substantial toolbox at home, the only cost for installing it yourself will be the actual garbage disposal you purchased. 

It’s important to note that every garbage disposal is a little different, so while you can find plenty of instructions online for how to install one, you should always read the user manual that came with your specific model to ensure you do it right the first time! 

Plumber install 

Now if you don’t feel confident replacing the disposal yourself, you can opt to hire a professional plumber. 

In this case, it will likely cost between $50 and $200 to hire a plumber to install your new disposal. And hopefully, it will only take them about 1 hour to start and complete the project! 

It’s important to note that this estimate does not include the unit itself, just the labor of the plumber. 

Check for a warranty

While you might think purchasing a cheap garbage disposal is a great way to save a bit of money, the truth is that you should really select an option with a decent warranty as disposals so frequently break. 

So if your garbage disposal comes with the option to pay an extra fee, you should absolutely pay it as it will likely save you money in the long run.