The waste disposal unit in your kitchen is one of those things you do not think about until it does not work anymore. The waste disposal grinds foods. That's about it.
Last week mine decided to quit on me. That day I suddenly had to learn all about waste disposal units. Turns out my builder grade unit had a limited lifespan the second it was installed. The replacement, the Waste King L-8000, should do much better.
Why budget waste disposal units fail
If a waste disposal unit has a warranty length other than lifetime, chances are it will leak and die shortly after the warranty period is over. Waste disposals are amazingly simple machines. Each one has an electrical motor connected to an impeller assembly in a a grinding chamber. Electrical motors have amazing reliability numbers. In a residential environment the motor will not fail, unless the waste disposal is abused.
The downfall of almost all units is the seal between the motor shaft and the grinding compartment. This seal must prevent leaks when the shaft is spinning at 2500rpm+; and it must do so year after year. On budget models this seal breaks down after a number of years. Water enters the motor compartment. The motor corrodes and eventually stops working. The unit, although unaffected on the outside, is a total loss.
Manufacturers know that this will happen. The warranty period is set to the age ~95% of units will reach. The failure rate begins to increase exponentially the year after. Chances are good your unit will survive to see the end of the warranty period, but chances are also very good that it will break soon thereafter. The only way you can prevent failure is by not using your unit.
Why the Waste King product line is different
The Waste King line is different in that the company offers a lifetime warranty. The unit will not break as long as you own it. This means the seal in the unit is leak proof and the motor is of reasonable quality (it does not take much of motor). That's what makes the Waste King units special.
I have no way of testing the seal. Instead, I let the warranty speak for itself. The company knows that the unit is leak proof. Offering the warranty just underscores the quality of the unit. If there is an issue with my unit, the company will spend me a new one.
During operation the Waste King performs like my old one did. Food waste has not chance. It's going down the drain one way or another. Unlike my old unit, however, the Waste King will keep working for decades. The reviewers on Amazon and the web confirm this. The unit simply works.
In some instances large waste finds a way to be suspended above the spinning impellers without being sucked in. This seems to happen with all disposal, and Waste King is not immune to the problem. Grinding performance of the unit is simply what I'd expect from a 1HP machine. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Larger motors can process larger amounts of food at a time. The grinding chamber is bigger, and the motor is harder to bog down. Smaller units can still process every type of waste you will reasonably generate, but the feed rate is slower. 1/2-3/4HP units are typically enough for residential environments. The 1HP unit is recommended for heavy use environments. Not because it will last longer than the smaller units, but because it will get the job done faster.
The only hard limit to consider is the power available under the sink. The 1HP Waste King L-8000 requires 1300 watts of power under full load. That leaves only ~200watts before the circuit reaches its maximum of ~1500watts. If the waste disposal shares the circuit with a couple of 100watt light bulbs, the circuit break will pop more often than you want it to. The electrical system in a recently built home should support a 1HP unit just fine, but check before you by a unit that you can't use. Waste disposal units will less than 3/4HP can be installed in almost all situations.
Installation of a waste disposal is straight forward, if a unit was present in the location. Power and waste connection will already be available. In a nutshell, the power and drain lines must be disconnected from the old unit, and reconnected to the new.
- Disconnect the unit's power cable. Either simply unplug it, or, if the unit is hardwired, turn the power off and disconnect the wires in the base of the unit.
- Disconnect the drain pipe.
- Turn the mounting ring counter clockwise to disconnect the unit from the sink. Remove the old unit.
- If the base plate on your sink is the standard one, you can leave it in place. If it is not, remove it and install the one that comes with the new disposal. You'll need a bit of plumber's putty to finish the work.
- Reconnect the drain line. The layout of the pipes may have to change, if the exhaust port of the new unit is lower than the one of the old unit. Maintain a slight downward pitch on all lines. Standing water leads to leaks and unusually strong odor.
- Reconnect the power.
Home Depot has made an excellent video about this task.
If you bother to install a garbage disposal, you might as well make it a unit you don't have to think about for a lifetime. The Waste King L-8000 is one such unit. The manufacturer claims it will never leak and last for as long as you own the home. With plenty of power and grinding ability, the Waste King L-8000 might just be the waste disposal unit for you.