Find Local Contractor Call: 844-251-6308
No Obligation, Free Quotes
Home > How Does It Work? > How Garbage Disposals Work

How Garbage Disposals Work

By Francine L. Huff
How Garbage Disposals Work

Garbage disposals allow you to grind up food into small pieces so that it easily passes through sewage pipes. If you cook a lot, this handy gadget can make your cleanup faster and easier.

Disposal Basics

Garbage disposals are attached to the bottom of the drain in a kitchen sink. As you feed scraps of food into the drain, a shredder grinds up the food. You have to run cold water while the disposal is operating so it can help push the food down. Disposals come in different sizes and you usually can't go wrong with stainless steel.

If you have a garbage disposal do not:

  • Use hot water when grinding food
  • Put too much food in it at once
  • Pour bleach, drain cleaners, or other chemicals into it
  • Grind materials like bones, coffee grounds, metal, or glass.

Working on a Disposal

It's important to know how garbage disposals work if you need to install or repair one. Disposals involve plumbing and electrical work and installing or repairing them isn't a job for a beginner. If you choose to do the work yourself, turn off the electricity before doing any work. When putting in a disposal, you'll need to install a GFCI outlet under the kitchen sink and a separate switch near the sink.

Most disposals are electric and operate by flipping a switch or turning a stopper after putting food in it. However there are some garbage disposals that are activated by the force of water from the sink spout. Regardless of the type of disposal, make sure you run water before, during, and after using it.

Find a Pre-Screened Handyman
Enter Your Zip Code:


THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED 'AS IS' WITH NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. THE AUTHOR, THE SITE OWNER AND ITS AFFILIATES ASSUME NO LIABILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS CONTAINED THEREIN OR FOR ANY USE OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT. The article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.