Garbage disposals are sturdy beasts and reliably handle most of the stuff we throw into them. Over time, however, like any mechanical device that incurs wear and tear, a garbage disposal begins to show its age. Statistics show that the average service life of garbage disposals is around 12 years. Your mileage may vary, depending on how often you use the unit and how careful you are about keeping unapproved food scraps and other garbage out of it. Here are some signs that may indicate your disposal needs replacement sooner rather than later.

Frequent Clogging

The unit is no longer adequately shredding and grinding food. Large leftover particles are causing clogs. This usually means the blades are dull and/or the motor is marginal. In most cases, it’s rarely worth the cost of attempting to repair a worn-out unit by installing replacement parts. Upgrading to a new disposal is usually the most cost-efficient option.

Repetitive Resets

If you frequently have to press the little red “Reset” button on the bottom of the disposal to revive a dead unit, this is usually a sign of a failing motor that’s drawing too much amperage. There’s no fix for this except replacement of the entire unit. If your existing disposal is a small one with minimum power—such as a 1/3-horsepower motor—you may wish to upgrade to a more powerful 1/2- or 1-horsepower unit for better performance in the future.

Perpetual Odors

Sometimes, all efforts to deodorize an old disposal fail. When residual food particles aren’t fully flushed down the drain pipe, odors from decomposing food inside the disposal eventually become permanent. They may be very noticeable when you stand over the sink or operate the disposal. Have a new unit installed by a qualified plumber. Each time you operate it, keep cold water running for 30 seconds afterward. This flushes residual food out of the disposal and down the drain. Once in a while, toss some orange or lemon peels in to clean and deodorize.

For professional advice about replacing garbage disposals, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.