Consumer Watch: Testing your garbage disposal

First up on the garbage disposal torture test is speed.

For this challenge, pre-measured rib bones are ground for a minute while running water.

Testers look inside the disposal to measure the amount and size of debris left behind.

Poor performers leave chunks, whereas top models shred the bones into tiny pieces.

To test grinding performance, testers measure equal amounts of bones and vegetable pieces to run through each garbage disposal.

The remains are rinsed through different-sized sieves. The lower-scoring disposals leave larger scraps that could potentially block your drain.

"We also test for noise, measuring decibel output while the disposals grind a mix of bones and vegetables," says Perry Santanachote with Consumer Reports. "In general, we find that the quieter models are heavier, due to more insulation."

After all the grinding and measuring is complete, Consumer Reports recommends certain models.

Moen's EX75C disposal is a Consumer Reports Best Buy. It has an excellent rating for grinding scraps, but on the downside, it's louder than others.

Some people prefer batch feed disposals because they can't be turned on until you load the chamber with waste and insert the stopper.

In that category, CR recommends the InsinkErator Evolution Cover Control Plus. This batch feed disposal did an excellent job turning hard beef bones into fine pieces quickly.

Consumer Reports says in order to save on repairs, be aware of items that should not be put into a garbage disposal. These include large amounts of eggshells, grease or oil, corn husks and artichokes.
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