According to InSinkErator, the company that created garbage disposals and still sells more of them than anyone else, your disposal should last about ten to twelve years. During that time you are sure to face your share of clogs or jams. You can help prevent some clogs, or lessen their impact, with good maintenance. Disposals are an amazing kitchen tool, but like all appliances, they need some care.
First, if you are choosing a new disposal, be sure and get one with the highest horsepower rating you can afford. And look for a model that has a way to turn the inside shaft manually if it does get clogged.
When using the disposal, always run the water, before during and after operation of the unit. And make sure you turn the water to cold or cool; some repair people believe hot water puts a strain on the motor.
Take it easy — some people think garbage disposals can chew up anything so they put huge pieces of food down there, or a huge load all at once. If you do this, you are asking for a jam. Put truly large items of food waste in either a composting bin or the trash. And only put a few small items down a garbage disposal at a time.
Keep it clean! Regular cleaning of your disposal will help lower the number of clogs you have to deal with. One trick is to put two cups of ice cubes in the disposal, then add a cup of rock salt, turn on the cold water—running into the disposal—and then turn on the disposal itself. If you don’t have rock salt, a cup of vinegar makes a great substitute.
Another thing to clean is the drainline. Plug your sink’s stopper over the disposal, fill the sink with two inches of water, then unplug the stopper while turning on the garbage disposal. In addition to doing this regularly for maintenance, it’s a good trick to use after running especially fibrous foods through your disposal. All the water pulled through the drain lines washes away clingy bits of debris very effectively.