Fairfield Island Plumbing & Heating Inc.
Chilliwack Plumbing & Heating Professionals

Pro Tips

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Garburators - The Grinding Truth

Photo by  Issam Hammoudi  on  Unsplash

Garburators. There are a lot of opinions about them. and to be completely honest, most of the opinions have validity.  I would like to look at all the "facts" I hear on a regular basis and address them with my opinion.

1. Garburators plug drains

This can be very, very true.  But like anything, something used improperly is likely to be a source of problems.  Garburators used to grind up the appropriate items with adequate amounts of water are not likely to cause problems. I can say from personal experience that I have plugged my own home drains a couple of times. But I know that I tried grinding up more than was recommended and it bit me in the butt.

2. Garburators replace compost

Garburators are convenient, but unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things they are not great for our city sewer system. They add extra load on the system which could cause our tax dollars to have to work a little harder. While I know it is not feasible for most of us to have home composts bins, I do know that a lot of cities are implementing composting programs. Yes, I hear your groans and whines. Nobody wants to fill stinky buckets with food waste and collect it for a week at a time. But I know for myself, I also would prefer my tax dollars not be going to expanding the landfills and/or the septic treatment plants.

3. Bigger is better

For the most part, this is true. Most garburators come in horsepower ratings like 1/2 hp, 3/4 hp or 1 hp. This indicates the amount of power behind the motor, or in other words, "how hard it can grind." So depending on what you plan on putting down the garburator, that could determine the required power. That being said, 3/4 hp for most machines is often more than adequate and comes in reasonable price ranges.

Often when you jump to the 1 hp and above you are paying for other features such as noise and vibration reduction which often is reflected in the price. 

Many factors should be considered when deciding to install a garburator:

A. How old is your house?

Houses were  piped differently back in the day. The older the house the more likely your drains are prone to plugging. If your pipes are visible via an unfinished basement or crawlspace, visually inspecting the pipes can tell you a lot.

B. How long is the sink run and does it have the proper slope?

When pipes are run longer, and with a smaller diameter, they are prone to problems. Same if there is inadequate slope on the pipe. The industry standard is minimum 1/4'' per foot. This means that for every 1 foot of pipe, it should drop 1/4".

C. What type of material?

Plastic pipes with proper slope have smoother walls which are less likely to collect debris. Old metal pipes become rusty and corroded on the inside, which allows food debris to collect easier.

D. Are you on a septic tank?

Just like was mentioned above with the city sewer, a lot of use with a garburator can add un-welcomed excess to an older septic tank and field. While this is a worse case scenario, in older farm houses the original septic fields were often designed to handle 1 bathroom only. So the addition of a kitchen with extra food waste could cause problems.

E. Is there power available?

Many people often forget this key factor. Many newer places will have a wire under the sink for the future add-on.  But most older houses will not. While it is often possible to tie into a dishwasher line or a plug line, this is generally not proper practice as it can overload the circuit and cause breakers to blow.


While I know this list is far from exhaustive, it is most of the variables I have encountered in my years in the field. Ultimately, it's up to you, I don't think there is a definitive answer on whether or not to install a garburator.