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How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?

How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?

How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?

A garbage disposal is a device installed under a kitchen sink that is used to shred and dispose of food waste. When activated, the garbage disposal grinds food scraps into small particles, which can then be washed away with water through the plumbing system.

How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?

Components of a Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal has many working parts. Understanding how all of these parts work will help you understand how they do their job.

Hopper Chamber

The hopper chamber is the cylindrical container that you can see under your sink. It is where food waste is processed.

Flywheel and Shredder Ring

The flywheel rotates to spin the impellers that shred the food waste. The shredder ring is a stationary component located within the grinding chamber. Its inner walls are covered in tiny, sharp grooves. As the flywheel spins, the food waste is forced against the shredder ring, where it gets shredded into smaller pieces by the teeth or ridges.


The motor is the main power source that drives the grinding mechanism.


These are blades that are attached to the motor. When activated, they spin rapidly, grinding the food waste into finer particles.

Waste Line Connector

The waste line connector allows the finely ground food waste to be flushed away with water into the drain line.

How to Use a Garbage Disposal

  • Step 1: Place the food waste into the hopper or inlet of the garbage disposal.
  • Step 2: Turn on the garbage disposal by flipping a switch or pressing a button.
  • Step 3: As the motor spins the flywheel, the food waste is shredded into smaller pieces by the sharp teeth or ridges.
  • Step 4: The shredded waste then passes through the openings in the shredder ring, where it’s ground and pulverized into even finer particles.
  • Step 5:  Water is simultaneously run into the garbage disposal unit to aid in the grinding process and help carry away the waste.
  • Step 6: The finely ground food waste, mixed with water, is flushed through the drain connection and into the plumbing pipes.

It's a good practice to continue running water for a short while after turning off the disposal to ensure all the particles are flushed out and the drain is clear.

Garbage Disposal Dos and Don’ts


  • Run water before, during, and after using the garbage disposal to flush the waste through the system and prevents clogs.
  • Cut large food waste into smaller pieces before inserting them into the disposal. This helps prevent overloading and improves grinding efficiency.
  • Use cold water when operating the garbage disposal. Cold water helps solidify fats and oils, making it easier for them to be ground and flushed away.
  • Use the garbage disposal regularly to prevent rust and corrosion
  • Clean the garbage disposal periodically.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation, usage, and maintenance
  • Always hire a professional plumber to help you with garbage disposal replacement.


  • Don't dispose of hard materials like bones, fruit pits, shells, or coffee grounds in the garbage disposal. These items can damage the grinding mechanism or cause blockages.
  • Don't put non-food items, such as glass, plastic, metal, cigarette butts, or paper, into the garbage disposal.
  • Don't pour grease, oil, or fat down the garbage disposal or drain as they can cause clogs
  • Don't overload the garbage disposal with a large amount of food waste at once.
  • Don’t stick your hand in the garbage disposal while it's operating.

Need Garbage Disposal Repair Or Replacement? Reach Out To Mr. Rooter Plumbing

If your garbage disposal is leaking, clogged, or not starting, reach out to the skilled plumbers at Mr. Rooter Plumbing for garbage disposal repair. We are a trusted plumbing service that you can rely on for garbage disposal repair, garbage disposal replacement, and all of your plumbing needs.

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