Imagine being in you’re in your kitchen, ready to do the daily cleanup, and you flip the switch for your garbage disposal. But instead of the reassuring hum, you’re met with silence or worse, a disconcerting grinding noise.
Your disposal seems to be on the fritz, and you might have to replace it. Replacing garbage disposal is a common home maintenance task, but what can you expect in terms of cost?
Understanding the factors that influence the cost can help you make an informed decision. In this article, we’ll explore the various aspects of garbage disposal replacement costs.
When to Replace a Garbage Disposal
If you keep having problems with your disposal or the problems are worsening, it’s a sign that the entire unit is failing and you have to replace it.
However, you don’t always need to buy a new garbage disposal when it acts up. Most disposals last about 5 to 10 years, so it’s a good idea to try fixing it first.
If you have problems like leaks, electrical issues, or stuck blades, you can often sort them out on your own. You can hit the reset button of the disposal like how you restart your computer to solve intermittent power problems.
For clogs and obstructions, use a hex key tool to rotate the impeller and get rid of the blockage. If there are small leaks, you can change gaskets or tighten seals, but it might be time to get a new disposal if you have major leaks.
Average Cost of Garbage Disposal Replacement
The average cost for garbage disposal replacement is usually around $225, covering both the price of the disposal unit and labor.
For commercial models with higher horsepower, the costs can go as high as $1,000 or even more. On the lower end, for a smaller and less powerful unit with DIY installation, the average cost is about $50.
Factors Affecting Garbage Disposal Replacement Cost
Here are other factors that affect the overall cost of having your garbage disposal replaced:
- Materials: The type of material your garbage disposal is made of affects how much it costs to replace. The most common materials are aluminum and stainless steel.
Aluminum garbage disposals are cheaper, so a lot more people choose them, but they don’t last as long as stainless steel ones.
Aluminum garbage disposals cost around $70 to $350, while stainless steel disposals range from $450 to $1,200.
- Size: The price you’ll pay for a replacement also depends on how big and powerful the motor is. Bigger motors can handle more garbage at once, but it’s important to get the right size for your home to avoid extra costs.
For a small household of one or two individuals, a motor with ⅓ or ½ horsepower is sufficient and comes at a price range of $50 to $225.
A larger household of five to eight people should go for a 1-horsepower motor, which typically falls within the range of $200 to $400.
- Labor: Replacing garbage disposal involves some work like leveling, connecting it to the sink’s plumbing system, making adjustments, and testing if it works properly.
A professional can usually get it done in about an hour.
A new garbage disposal installation will also require a bit more labor from an electrician, which results in higher overall costs compared to a straightforward replacement of an existing disposal unit.
Hiring a local electrician typically costs about $50 to $100 per hour.
Types of Garbage Disposals
Continuous feed disposals are the most common type and what most people think of when they think of garbage disposal. These are controlled with a switch on the wall, and they continuously run as long as you leave the switch on.
Although they’ve been around for decades, there are some safety concerns because both utensils and hands can easily slip into the disposal which could be dangerous.
Continuous feed disposals work quickly and effectively. The price can range from $75 to $1,000, depending on the materials and motor size.
Batch feed garbage disposals are less common but they’ve become more popular lately because they’re a lot safer when used.
These disposals won’t turn on until you put a stopper in the opening, which helps protect against accidents with utensils, hands, or anything else.
They grind up waste in small batches, that’s why they’re called “batch feed,” and that makes them a bit slower than the continuous feed. A batch feed disposal’s price is usually between $75 and $300.
Here are some other factors that might affect the overall expense when replacing garbage disposal:
- Brand: There are several well-known brands of garbage disposal out there. It’s best to shop around for deals both online and at local hardware stores.
- Electrical Wiring: Garbage disposals need a properly grounded electrical outlet to power them. When you’re replacing an existing unit, there’s usually no issue as the outlet is already there.
However, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need an electrician to set up a grounded outlet, which typically costs between $120 and $165.
It’s not a very difficult task and usually takes just an hour or two of labor, along with minimal expenses for parts.
In some instances, garbage disposals are plugged into an existing grounded outlet initially installed for the dishwasher, which may allow you to skip this step.
Be sure to discuss this with your installer to make sure the electrical circuit can handle the extra power requirements.
- Removal/Disposal of the Existing Unit: In most cases, professionals will take away the old unit as part of the overall estimate.
Since they’re removing it to make space for the new one, there’s no hassle in having them dispose of it, as they know where to properly handle faulty garbage disposals.
However, if there are access issues, like a corroded unit that’s hard to remove, the technician may charge extra for the time it takes to get to the garbage disposal for removal. This may increase the cost by $50 to $100.
- Warranties: Most garbage disposals come with a manufacturer’s warranty that lasts at least two years, with some extending to three or even five years. However, disposals can last much longer, between five, 10, or even 15 years.
This means that considering purchasing an extended warranty to provide coverage beyond the manufacturer’s warranty is a good idea.
This can help cover some or all of the replacement costs, as long as the issue happens while the disposal is still under warranty.
Just make sure to keep up with regular maintenance to ensure the warranty provider has no grounds to deny your claim.
DIY vs. Hiring a Pro
Choosing whether to take on the installation yourself or bring in a professional is an important decision with cost implications:
- Cost Savings: DIY installation can be more budget-friendly, as you won’t have to spend money on labor fees.
- Potential Errors: If you lack experience in plumbing and electrical work, you may struggle with the installation which may lead to errors or safety issues.
- Time-Consuming: DIY projects can take longer to complete, especially if you encounter unexpected challenges.
Hiring a Pro
- Expertise: Professionals are experienced and knowledgeable, ensuring that the installation is done correctly and safely.
- Time Efficiency: Hiring a pro can expedite the process so downtime is reduced in your kitchen.
- Peace of Mind: Hiring a pro means you can have the peace of mind that the work is up to industry standards and codes.
- Insurance: Professionals have insurance so you are protected in case of any issues arising during the installation or within a reasonable timeframe after the work is finished.
- Higher Costs: Professional labor comes with a price, which can significantly increase the total cost.
Here are some practical tips to help you save money when replacing a garbage disposal:
- Repair the unit if possible: Repairs are more cost-effective than replacements, especially if the problem is minor.
For instance, if it won’t turn on, it could be as simple as resetting it by pressing a button. Consult with your professional to discuss budget-friendly repair options.
- Choose a similar model: Unless you’re making a significant upgrade, consider choosing a model similar to your previous one. This minimizes the need for extensive labor, plumbing, and electrical modifications.
- Consider purchasing a used disposal unit: Garbage disposals are sturdy appliances and used models pose relatively low risks, especially if they were taken out for reasons that are not related to repairs.
Buying secondhand can save you up to 50%, but it’s best to have a technician inspect the unit before purchasing. Or, you can have the technician source a used unit for you.
- Choose the right size: Be sure to select the appropriate-sized disposal for your home.
A household with one or two occupants typically requires a model with ⅓ to ½ horsepower, while a home with five to eight people may need a 1 horsepower model.
- Choose the material wisely: While aluminum models are less expensive than stainless steel, they handle smaller amounts of waste and have a shorter lifespan.
This means you will have to replace them more than steel models despite regular maintenance.
- Prepare the workspace in advance: Any work you can complete ahead of time will reduce labor costs.
Clear the area to ensure easy access to the disposal. If you have experience, you can even remove the faulty disposal in advance.
- Prioritize warranties: Investing in an extended warranty can save you on future service call fees. This provides coverage for several additional years of repairs.
Tips to Maintain Your Garbage Disposal
Here are tips to maintain your garbage disposal properly to prevent the need for replacement in the first place.
- Avoid garbage accumulation by using your disposal regularly.
- Break down larger waste pieces before grinding.
- Never pour grease or fats down your disposal to avoid blockages.
Always use a constant flow of cold water before, during, and after operating your disposal.
Familiarize yourself with your specific model’s capabilities and limitations regarding the types of waste it can handle.
- To keep your garbage disposal clean, grind ice cubes and salt, followed by lemon peels, every month.
- Steer clear of chemical drain cleaners, as these may cause damage to your disposal.