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How Long Should a Garbage Disposal Last? Common Signs of Wear and Tear

Is your garbage disposal acting up, leaving you wondering about its lifespan? Most disposals last around 12 years, but this can be influenced by various factors. This blog post will dive into the specifics of garbage disposal lifespans, including warning signs of a worn-out unit and tips for prolonging their life.

Are you ready to make the most out of your kitchen helper? Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Most garbage disposals last around 12 years, but this can vary depending on factors like non-food objects, inappropriate food waste, incorrect installation, and overuse.
  • Warning signs of a worn – out garbage disposal include grinding noises, frequent clogs, unpleasant odors, electrical issues, poor performance, and leaks.
  • To extend the lifespan of your garbage disposal, use it regularly and clean it frequently with mild soap and water. Only grind appropriate food waste and periodically sharpen the blades to keep it working well.
  • Replacing a garbage disposal can cost between $80 to $300 on average. Consider the benefits of improved performance and energy efficiency when deciding whether to replace an old or failing unit.

Factors That Affect the Lifespan of a Garbage Disposal

Non-food objects, inappropriate food waste, incorrect installation, and overuse can all contribute to the wear and tear of a garbage disposal.

Non-Food Objects

Be careful with non-food items. Putting things like glass, metal, or paper in your garbage disposal is harmful. They can break it and lessen its life span. These objects cause big damage to the blades inside the unit.

Some other things that should not go in are plastic, cords and kitchen sponges. Make sure to stop these materials from getting into your disposal!

Inappropriate Food Waste

It’s important to be mindful of what you put in your garbage disposal. Inappropriate food waste can cause damage and wear down the disposal faster. Avoid putting large bones, coffee grounds, fruit pits, grease or oil, fibrous foods like celery or corn husks, and starchy foods like pasta or rice.

These items can clog the disposal, dull the blades, and strain the motor. Instead, scrape leftover food into a compost bin or throw it in the trash. Taking care to dispose of food properly will help extend the lifespan of your garbage disposal and prevent costly repairs.

Incorrect Installation

Incorrect installation can greatly impact the lifespan of your garbage disposal. If it is not properly installed, it may lead to leaks, clogs, and other issues. This can cause wear and tear on the motor and other parts of the disposal.

It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions or seek professional help when installing a garbage disposal to ensure that it is done correctly. Taking the time to install it properly will help extend its lifespan and prevent unnecessary damage in the long run.


Overusing your garbage disposal can lead to wear and tear, shortening its lifespan. The motor in the disposal is not meant to handle heavy or continuous use. If you constantly overload it with large amounts of food waste or run it for extended periods of time, you may start experiencing problems.

Overuse can cause the motor to overheat, leading to frequent resets and potentially damaging the disposal’s components. It’s important to be mindful of how much you’re using your garbage disposal and avoid putting too much strain on it.

Tips to Extend the Lifespan of a Garbage Disposal

Regularly using your garbage disposal can help prevent rust and corrosion buildup, maintaining its functionality. Frequent cleaning with mild soap and water will keep it free from debris and eliminate unpleasant odors.

Additionally, only grinding appropriate food waste and sharpening the blades periodically will further extend the lifespan of your garbage disposal. Don’t miss these essential tips to ensure your garbage disposal lasts for many years to come!

Regular Use

Using your garbage disposal regularly is one of the key ways to keep it in good working condition. Regular use helps prevent build-up and keeps the blades sharp. It also helps to prevent rust and corrosion, as well as ensures that all the parts stay lubricated.

By using your garbage disposal often, you can help extend its lifespan and avoid any unnecessary wear and tear. So go ahead and use it every day for disposing of food waste—it’s what it’s designed for! Just make sure not to overload it with too much waste at once, as that can cause clogs or damage over time.

Frequent Cleaning

To keep your garbage disposal in good working condition, regular cleaning is important. Here are some tips to help you clean your garbage disposal:

  1. Use a mixture of dish soap and warm water: Pour a few drops of dish soap into the disposal, then fill it with warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes, then turn on the disposal and run cold water to flush it out.
  2. Clean with ice cubes: Drop a handful of ice cubes into the disposal, and run it for about 10 seconds. The ice will help remove any debris or buildup from the blades.
  3. Use vinegar and baking soda: Sprinkle baking soda into the disposal, followed by a cup of vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes, then rinse with hot water.
  4. Scrub with a toothbrush: For stubborn residue, use an old toothbrush to scrub the inside of the disposal.

Appropriate Food Waste

Properly disposing of food waste is important for the longevity of your garbage disposal. Avoid putting hard or fibrous foods like bones, fruit pits, and corn husks down the disposal as they can damage the blades and motor.

Grease, oil, and fats should also be avoided as they can cause clogs. Instead, stick to small scraps of soft foods and always run cold water while using the disposal to help it work more efficiently.

By being mindful of what you put in your garbage disposal, you can help extend its lifespan and avoid unnecessary wear and tear.

Sharpen Blades

To keep your garbage disposal working well, it’s important to sharpen the blades. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  1. Use ice cubes: Put a few ice cubes into the disposal and turn it on. The ice will help clean and sharpen the blades as they grind against each other.
  2. Use lemon peels: Drop some lemon peels into the disposal and turn it on. The acid in the lemon will help break down any residue on the blades, keeping them sharp.
  3. Use rock salt: Sprinkle some rock salt into the disposal and run it with water for a few seconds. The abrasive texture of the salt will help remove buildup from the blades, keeping them sharp and efficient.
  4. Avoid hard materials: Try to avoid putting hard materials like bones or pits into your garbage disposal, as they can dull or damage the blades over time.

Common Signs of a Failing Garbage Disposal

Grinding noises, frequent clogs, unpleasant odors, electrical issues, poor performance, and leaks are all common signs of a failing garbage disposal.

Grinding Noises

One common sign that your garbage disposal is wearing down is if you hear grinding noises. These strange sounds can indicate a problem with the blades or motor, and may mean that your disposal is struggling to break down food waste properly.

If you notice these grinding noises, it’s important to address the issue promptly to avoid further damage and potential breakdown of your garbage disposal.

Frequent Clogs

Frequent clogs are a common sign of wear and tear in garbage disposals. When your disposal frequently gets blocked, it could mean that there is a buildup of food waste or other debris inside the unit.

These blockages can put stress on the motor and cause it to work harder, which may lead to premature wear and tear. To prevent frequent clogs, make sure to dispose of food waste properly by avoiding large chunks and fibrous materials.

Also, remember to run water while using the disposal and avoid overloading it with too much waste at once. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help keep your garbage disposal running smoothly for longer.

Unpleasant Odors

One common sign of wear and tear in a garbage disposal is unpleasant odors. If you notice a persistent smell coming from your disposal, it could mean that there is buildup or food residue stuck inside.

Over time, this can lead to bacteria growth and cause the odor. Regular cleaning and maintenance are important to prevent these smells from occurring. Using ice cubes, lemon peels, or baking soda can help freshen up the disposal and eliminate any lingering odors.

Electrical Issues

Electrical issues can be a common problem with garbage disposals. If your disposal is not turning on or is intermittently shutting off, it could indicate an electrical problem. This could be caused by a faulty switch, a tripped circuit breaker, or even loose wiring connections.

Another sign of electrical issues is if the disposal is making strange buzzing or humming sounds but not actually grinding any food waste. In some cases, these problems can be fixed by resetting the disposal or replacing a blown fuse.

However, if the electrical issues persist or if you’re unsure how to fix them safely, it’s best to call a professional electrician for assistance.

Poor Performance

If your garbage disposal is not working like it used to, it may be a sign of poor performance. This could mean that the motor is wearing out or the blades are getting dull. You might notice that it takes longer for the disposal to grind up food waste or that it doesn’t work as efficiently as before.

Another indicator of poor performance is if the disposal frequently gets clogged and requires manual intervention to unclog it. Additionally, if you have been using your garbage disposal for several years and it’s not performing like it used to, this could also be a sign of wear and tear.

It’s important to address these issues promptly to prevent further damage and ensure proper functioning of your garbage disposal.


One common sign that a garbage disposal is nearing the end of its life is leaks. If you notice water dripping from your disposal or pooling under the sink, it could be a clear indication that there is a problem.

Leaks can occur due to wear and tear on the seals and gaskets, which can degrade over time. Ignoring these leaks can lead to further damage and potential water damage in your kitchen.

If you notice any leaks, it’s important to address them promptly by either repairing or replacing the garbage disposal.

The Cost of Replacing a Garbage Disposal

Replacing a garbage disposal can vary in cost depending on several factors. On average, the cost of a new garbage disposal unit can range from $80 to $300. This price includes the disposal itself as well as any necessary installation materials and labor costs if you choose to hire a professional plumber to do the job.

The exact cost will depend on the brand and features of the new unit you select.

It’s important to consider that while replacing a garbage disposal may seem expensive upfront, it is often more cost-effective than trying to repair an old or failing unit repeatedly.

Repairing a heavily damaged or worn-out garbage disposal can end up costing just as much, if not more, than purchasing and installing a new one.

If you’re comfortable with DIY projects and have some plumbing knowledge, you might be able to save money by replacing your garbage disposal yourself. However, keep in mind that improper installation could lead to additional expenses down the line if it causes leaks or other issues.

Before making any decisions about replacing your garbage disposal, always weigh the costs against potential benefits such as improved performance and energy efficiency.


In conclusion, the lifespan of a garbage disposal can vary depending on how it is used and maintained. On average, a garbage disposal can last up to 12 years. However, signs of wear and tear such as frequent resets, unusual noises, persistent odors, leaks, and clogs may indicate that it needs to be replaced.

By practicing proper care and maintenance, such as regular use and cleaning, you can help prolong the life of your garbage disposal. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to consider replacing your garbage disposal for optimal performance in your kitchen.


1. What is the average lifespan of a garbage disposal?

Most garbage disposals should last between 8 to 15 years, but it depends on factors like usage and proper care.

2. What are common signs of wear and tear in a garbage disposal?

Signs of wear and tear can include clogging issues or performance problems like leaking or nonfunctional parts in the system.

3. How can I prolong the life span of my garbage disposal?

To extend your garbage disposal’s life, follow good maintenance tips such as not putting hard objects in it and cleaning it often.

4. When do I know when to replace my garbage disposal?

When you see signs of a worn-out system such as frequent clogs, leaks, and if pressing the reset button fails to fix these issues; then it’s time for a replacement.

5. How much does replacing a garbage disposal usually cost?

The cost varies based on brand and model type but generally falls anywhere from $150 – $350 which includes both product price and installation fees.

6. Can continuous usage impact my dispose unit negatively?

Yes! It is important to remember that constant use without proper upkeep may speed up its aging process leading to early failures with leaking or clogging being red flags in particular cases.

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