Last Updated on August 9, 2020 by Dave Farquhar
I’m a landlord, and my tenants can be hard on garbage disposals. One time I couldn’t get my preferred brand, so I ended up installing a Barracuda. Was it any good? Here’s my Barracuda garbage disposal review.
Barracuda garbage disposals are made by Moen. They are made overseas and imported, and sold in discount hardware and home improvement stores like Menards. Barracuda garbage disposals are also sold under the Waste King brand name.
Why not Insinkerator?
I prefer Insinkerator for pragmatic reasons. Insinkerators are made by Emerson Electric in Wisconsin. There aren’t a lot of things left still made in the United States, so when we do make something here, I think it’s best that we buy it. It’s worth a few bucks out of my pocket for my neighbor to have a job.
But you didn’t come here to read about Insinkerator, you came here to read about Barracuda, and I own one, so let’s talk about Barracuda.
Not all Barracudas are the same
The first thing to keep in mind is not all Barracudas are exactly the same. You can get a Barracuda with a knockoff Insinkerator-compatible mount, or you can get one with its own proprietary mount. I actually found the Barracuda mount a little easier to deal with. But the Insinkerator-compatible mount is easier to deal with if you’re not doing a new installation and you’re replacing an Insinkerator. It’s very convenient to be able to just twist off the old disposal and twist on a new one.
If you have the option, I recommend buying the Insinkerator-compatible version. There will come a time in your home’s lifetime that you need a garbage disposal in a hurry, and chances are, Insinkerator is what the nearest store will have. And if I’m buying a garbage disposal at 10 PM, I want to be able to swap the new one in as quickly as possible.
Barracuda garbage disposal quality
My responsible tenants have no problems with Barracuda garbage disposals. My tenants who break a garbage disposal a year don’t fare any better with Barracudas than with Insinkerators. When you don’t take care of your stuff, you can break either brand.
The problem is, when you put grease down a disposal, you’re going to clog the drain. Neither brand will deal with that. When you clog it up and put drain cleaner in it, you’ll break it. Neither brand deals with that either. And a garbage disposal is no substitute for the trash can. Don’t put stuff in the disposal just for the sake of putting stuff in the disposal. Scrape your plates into the trash can before you rinse them off.
Do that, and you can get 10 years or more out of a Barracuda. I’ve seen it. Run chicken bones and cardboard boxes and other stuff that belongs in the trash through it, and it’ll die in six months. I’ve seen that too. That’s why my plumber hates all garbage disposals.
But generally speaking, if an Insinkerator will grind it, a comparable-sized Barracuda will grind it just as readily. Both products are just an electric motor in a watertight enclosure with a blade and a circuit breaker. They’re pretty simple machines. And if you compare a half-horsepower Barracuda you got for $75 with a 1/3-horsepower Insinkerator that also cost $75, you’ll probably be happier with the Barracuda. Especially since the Barracuda comes with a power cord. Barracuda really does nickel and dime you a lot less.
There’s really only one thing wrong with Barracudas, and that’s the unlocking mechanism.
Unlocking a Barracuda garbage disposal
Even if you treat a disposal right, occasionally it will seize up on you. Insinkerators come with a wrenchette and have a hex-head bolt on the undersize that you can turn to unseize them and free them back up again. I’ve used them a lot.
Barracudas don’t have that. The way you free up a Barracuda is a bit unconventional, though it’s a trick that works in Insinkerators too. You need two broomsticks. You take two broomsticks, cross them in a criss-cross pattern, and lock them onto the blades through the opening. Then turn the broomsticks back and forth until the obstruction breaks up and the blade turns freely.
This method is more effective than the wrenchette and that may be why Barracudas don’t even have the option. But it’s not a trick everyone knows.
If you know that trick, you can be happy with a Barracuda garbage disposal. If you don’t know that trick, you’ll probably only buy one once.
Barracuda garbage disposal review: Bottom line
The bottom line on Barracuda garbage disposals is you have to know the trick to unlock them. Once you know that trick, you’ll be happy with any garbage disposal.
And if you go through a lot of disposals, you probably won’t be any less unhappy with the cheapest 1/3-horsepower Barracuda as you will with anything else.
When every dime counts, Barracuda delivers more value. But I think more goes into value than just dollars and cents. After I found out Insinkerators are still made in the USA, I started buying them. Either of them will treat you well if you treat them well.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.