Are All Under-Sink Disposals Standard Sizes?

A food disposal helps you clean up after a big party.
A food disposal helps you clean up after a big party. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

A sink disposal is useful for grinding up food waste and washing it down the drain without clogging your pipes; ground-up food does not clog the drain like whole chunks of food will. If you have installed a food disposal, you know there are parts of the machine that are standard sizes, and parts that are not.

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Food-Disposal Motor Sizing

Food-disposal motor sizing is first and foremost based on horsepower, not length and width, although these measurements are important. The powerful motor in the food-disposal unit rating tells the consumer how powerful the device is, and it allows for a comparison between two different units with different motors. Most disposals have a 1/2- or 3/4-horsepower motor.

Food-Disposal Unit Sizing

The size of the unit itself is another matter entirely. Usually, the higher horsepower the machine's motor is, the larger the unit itself is. This is not always the case, but usually bigger motors are larger due to the size of the electric coil in the motor. Other features increase the size of the machine, but the basic household disposal usually clocks in at around 5 to 6 inches in diameter and is around 1 foot tall.

Grind-Chamber Capacity

Another measurement to note when choosing a disposal is the grind-chamber capacity. This is the cylindrical chamber in which food items contact the grinding heads. It's where the grinding occurs, and it is located just below the connector on top of the disposal. A large grind chamber holds 40 oz. of material or more, while a typical grind chamber holds around 34 oz.

Connection Sizes

The other standardized size in a disposal is the connection bracket. This bracket fits onto the base of the disposal's basket strainer, installed on the sink before the disposal is installed. The basket strainer is 3 1/2 inches in diameter to meet standard sink-hole diameter. The connection bracket allows the disposal to hook and clamp into place under the strainer on a similar diameter hole. Food and water goes straight through the drain into the disposal. The disposal also has a standard 1 1/2-inch pipe connection on the side to connect to your kitchen's drain piping.

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