It’s confession time: For about three weeks last month, every time I used my garbage disposal, it leaked water under the sink. Instead of tackling the problem right away, I went for the avoidance strategy. I stuck a vase under the disposal and emptied it periodically. When I forgot to empty it, the sound of water spilling over the vase served as a quick reminder.

In my defense, I knew I needed a new disposal, and I didn’t have the time to deal with the problem right away. How did I know? When I had some work done last year, my plumber noticed the disposal was quite old and on its last legs. He warned me it would go soon. The disposal was about five years old, but it was not a “nice” one. In fact, this model only had a one-year warranty, so making it five years wasn’t half bad. With the new garbage disposal, I’m determined to make it last well beyond its warranty. Here are some tips to prolonging its life span.


Keep it cold. Use cold water when running the disposal. Hot water can melt fat, which can eventually solidify down the pipe and clog your drains.

Avoid fibrous foods. The fibers can tangle and cause blockages. Things like celery, artichokes, onion skins and banana peels are better left for a compost pile. Ditto for starchy foods, like potato peels, which can turn into a paste and clog the drain.

Throw in the ice. Put ice down the disposal periodically and run it as you normally would . The ice helps to clear the disposal of food debris. For an added boost of clean, make ice cubes from citrus juice.


Run the water. After turning off your disposal, let the water run for 30 to 60 seconds. This will help to clear the drain of food particles.

Grind immediately. Standing food may contain acid or oils that can eat through seals. Run the disposal right away and don’t forget to use cold water and let it run after.

According to, the average life span of a garbage disposal is 10 to 12 years. Of course, this life span fluctuates with the disposal you choose. Check the warranties to see projected life spans. This will give you insight as to whether you should repair a leak or buy a new disposal. As always, consult a professional if you are ever in doubt.