How Long Do Garbage Disposals Last?

A garbage disposal is one of the most used appliances in the kitchen. It makes our life easier by grinding up food scraps so they can easily pass through the plumbing system. However, like any machine, garbage disposals won’t last forever. So how long do garbage disposals last?

The average lifespan of a garbage disposal is 10 to 12 years. However, this can vary quite a bit based on the quality of the unit, how well it was installed, how often it’s used, and how well it’s maintained. High-quality disposals that are properly installed and well cared for can last 15 years or longer. Lower quality units or those subject to frequent use or improper maintenance may only last 5 years or less before needing replacement.

There are a few key factors that determine how long a garbage disposal will last:

Quality of the Garbage Disposal Unit

Not all disposals are created equal when it comes to durability and longevity. Units from premium brands made of corrosion-resistant materials like stainless steel will obviously last longer than cheaper units made from inferior metals.

Here are some signs you have a high-quality unit:

  • Stainless steel grinding components – Grinding rings, plates, shredders made of stainless steel resist rust and corrosion better than carbon steel or iron.
  • Powerful motor – Look for a motor with at least 1 HP or 1/2 HP for continuous feed disposals. More power means the motor is less likely to burn out with heavy use.
  • Warranty – Better units come with warranties of 5 years or longer on parts and labor.
  • Brand reputation – Respected brands like Waste King, InSinkErator, GE, and Moen have a track record for quality and durability.

On the other hand, low-priced disposers made with lower grade materials and less powerful motors will have a shorter useful life, usually less than 5 years.

Installation Quality

How well (or poorly) a garbage disposal is installed also affects its lifespan. An improper installation can lead to leaks, corrosion, jamming, or motor burnout down the road.

Signs of a high-quality installation include:

  • Adequate space under the sink for the unit and proper ventilation.
  • A tightly sealed mounting assembly with no leaks or gaps for water intrusion.
  • Proper wiring by a licensed electrician with a dedicated switch.
  • A properly sized drainpipe and dishwasher inlet if applicable.

A poorly installed unit is more apt to fail sooner. Common mistakes like an improper seal between the mounting and sink, bad connections, or an undersized drainpipe can undermine durability.

Frequency of Use

The more often you use your garbage disposal, the faster it will wear out – it’s just physics. Units subjected to heavier than normal use will experience more wear and tear.

Factors contributing to frequent use include:

  • Large family that generates lots of food waste.
  • Food prep-heavy household where lots of cooking is happening.
  • Limited or no curbside compost pickup service, forcing more food waste into the disposal.

Under light use such as a single person or couple generating average food waste a couple times a day, a disposal can easily last 12-15 years. But in a big busy household where the unit runs multiple times per day, its lifespan may be closer to 5-7 years.

Maintenance Habits

Like any appliance, a garbage disposal requires some periodic maintenance to maximize its lifespan. Units that are properly maintained tend to last longer.

Recommended maintenance includes:

  • Running cold water – Always run cold water before, during, and after using the disposal to flush waste down the drain. Avoid letting food particles sit in unit.
  • Grinding ice – Putting some ice cubes in the unit and running it periodically grinds any stuck-on grease and cleans the inside.
  • Cleaning with baking soda or disposal cleaner – Use these periodically to deodorize and clean the unit.
  • Inspecting/tightening mounting – Check for leaks and tighten mounting bolts as needed.
  • Flushing drain lines – Flush drain lines regularly to keep them clear of debris.

Neglecting maintenance by allowing drains to clog, food to accumulate in the unit, or its components to rust will shorten its functional lifespan.

Signs Your Disposal May Be Nearing the End

Here are some signs that indicate your existing garbage disposal may be close to the end of its useful life:

  • Frequent jamming, buzzing, or humming sounds during operation.
  • Leaking from the mounting seals onto cabinet or sink.
  • Increased noise and vibration during use.
  • Intermittent electrical problems, tripped breakers, etc.
  • Foul sewage odors coming from the unit.
  • Visible rust, corrosion or cracks in grinding components.
  • The sink draining slower than normal after use.

If your unit is exhibiting one or more of these warning signs, it may be time to start budgeting for a replacement disposal. While certain parts like grinding rings and shredder plates can be replaced, extensive repairs usually don’t make economic sense on an old unit.

Extending the Life of Your Garbage Disposal

You can maximize the lifespan of your garbage disposal with a little preventive maintenance:

Diligent Use Habits

  • Run cold water before, during and after using the disposal.
  • Avoid putting fibrous or bulky items down the unit.
  • Cut or grind large pieces prior to disposal.
  • Allow unit to completely grind and drain waste before turning off.

Regular Maintenance

  • Grind ice monthly to clean inside and blades.
  • Flush with hot water and baking soda or disposal cleaner.
  • Tighten mounting bolts if any leakage develops.
  • Use a drain cleaner/maintainer product monthly.

Know When to Repair or Replace

  • Replace shredder rings and plates if worn.
  • Repair minor leaks or electrical issues.
  • Consider replacement once major issues appear.

Install High Quality Replacement Unit

  • Choose a reputable brand with stainless steel components.
  • Make sure electrician installs with proper power and switch.
  • Seal mounting tightly to sink/countertop with no leaks or gaps.

Following these tips will help ensure you get the maximum lifespan from your garbage disposal.

How Long Do Specific Garbage Disposal Brands Last?

The lifespan of a garbage disposal can also vary depending on which brand and specific model you have. Here is a look at the average lifespan of some of the top disposal brands:


Average Lifespan: 10-12 years

Overview: Industry leader InSinkErator offers a tiered lineup of disposers ranging from budget to premium models. Their higher end disposals like the Evolution Series excel in longevity, while entry models have slightly shorter lifespans. Well-maintained Evolution models can run reliably for 12-15 years.

Waste King

Average Lifespan: 10-15 years

Overview: Waste King disposals are made with corrosion-proof components and high-quality stainless steel to maximize durability. Their premium models are warrantied to last over a decade and can outlast cheaper brands.


Average Lifespan: 8-12 years

Overview: GE offers models across the spectrum from basic to deluxe. Their lower-priced plastic disposers may last only 8-10 years, while higher-end stainless steel units can exceed 12 years with proper maintenance.


Average Lifespan: 7-15 years

Overview: Moen produces high-end disposals designed to last at least 10-15 years for their premium models, while more affordable lines like the GX50 series are warrantied for 7 years.


Average Lifespan: 5-10 years

Overview: Whirlpool disposals varies widely in quality from cheaper units that last 5-7 years to pricier models that may reach 10-12 years or longer. Their lower-end disposers tend to have below average lifespans.


Average Lifespan: 3-5 years

Overview: Frigidaire makes inexpensive disposers designed for light usage, but durability suffers. Expect just 3-5 years of service before failure based on reviews. Their units lack corrosion resistance.

So in summary, you can expect anywhere from 3 years to over 15 years of service life depending on the brand and model selected. Doing your homework can help maximize this major investment.

How to Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals don’t last forever. But when is it time to replace your existing unit?

Here are signs that indicate your disposal is ready for retirement:

It’s Over 10 Years Old

Most disposals should be replaced once they surpass 10-12 years of age. Even if it’s still functioning, an old disposal is apt to begin failing soon.

Frequent Jamming Issues

If your unit begins jamming regularly even after attempts to repair and maintain it, the grinding components are likely worn out.

Loud, Excessive Noise/Vibration

A disposal that suddenly becomes much louder and shakier during operation could have a damaged motor mount, worn shredder ring, or other issue that may require replacement of the entire unit.

Rust, Corrosion or Leaks Visible

Signs of advanced internal rust or outer housing corrosion usually can’t be remedied cost-effectively. Leaks also indicate worn seals/gaskets.

Electrical Problems

Issues like the unit not turning on, tripping your electrical breaker, or control switch malfunctions often point to a motor or wiring failure requiring unit replacement.

Drain Performance Declines

A noticeably slower drain time after running the disposal suggests a clogged or damaged drain line/impeller. This can be difficult and expensive to repair.

Odor Issues Persist

Foul odors coming from the disposal, even after cleaning attempts, typically means irreversible internal corrosion.

Sometimes it makes sense to repair parts or service an aging disposal. But once one or more of these red flags appear, replacement is usually the wisest and most cost-effective choice. Planning for a new disposal once your existing one hits the 10-year mark can prevent headaches down the road.

FAQs About How Long Garbage Disposals Last

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the lifespan of garbage disposals:

How Long Do Continuous Feed Disposals Last?

Continuous feed disposals that allow a continuous stream of food waste tend to last 8-12 years on average. Their longevity is improved by grinding up waste as it enters the unit rather than batch feeding. Continuous feed models with stainless steel components often last longer.

How Long Does a Batch Feed Disposal Last?

Batch feed models, which require inserting food waste in batches by sealing off the drain opening, typically last 8-10 years. Their lifespan is slightly shorter than continuous feed models on average. But high-quality batch feed disposals can still last 12-15 years or longer.

Do More Expensive Disposals Last Longer?

Yes, more expensive premium disposals generally last longer than cheaper units. Investing in a higher quality model with stainless steel components, a powerful motor, and excellent warranty will pay off with increased years of service.

How Long Should a Garbage Disposal Motor Last?

The motor in a quality disposal should last at least 10-15 years. Higher-end models with induction motors and overload protection can greatly outlast cheaper units with weaker motors that burn out after 5-7 years.

How Long Does InSinkErator Last?

Top-of-the-line InSinkErator models like the Evolution Excel are designed to provide over a decade of service life. Even cheaper InSinkErator models typically last 8-10 years minimum with proper care and maintenance.

Do Garbage Disposals Wear Out Over Time?

Yes, through daily use garbage disposals slowly wear out internally over time. Grinding rings and plates eventually deteriorate with use. Seals and gaskets wear out. Motors lose power and eventually burn out. This gradual wearing down limits the appliance’s lifespan.

Should I Replace or Repair an Old Garbage Disposal?

It depends on the issue. For minor problems, small repairs may extend its useful life. But once major issues appear like leaks, frequent jams, electrical problems, or excessive noise/vibration, replacement is usually better than sinking money into repairs for an old disposal nearing the end of its lifespan.


Most garbage disposals will provide roughly a decade of service, or sometimes longer, with proper maintenance and care. But many factors from usage patterns to installation quality impact longevity. Investing in a premium brand disposal and taking steps to maximize its lifespan is recommended to avoid premature failures. If your existing disposal is experiencing age-related issues, repairs can sometimes extend its service life slightly. But once major problems begin appearing, replacement is usually the smartest option to avoid headaches down the road.