Garbage disposal machines are one of the kitchen’s most used household electrical appliances. However, because it uses electricity and its proximity to the sink, it may contact water. Therefore, does this mean that a garbage disposal unit needs a GFCI?
The National Electrical Code does not necessarily stipulate that garbage disposal machines must have a GFCI installed. It is therefore optional to install GFCI protection on your garbage disposal. However, they must be either hardwired or connected by a grounded electrical outlet to an outlet.
Is GFCI Necessary For A Garbage Disposal Unit?
Generally, GFCI protection is not necessary for garbage disposal units. It is not stipulated in the National Electrical Code. However, it is recommended because garbage disposal machines are usually close to a water source. The installation instructions in the user manual may even require it.
GFCI, which means Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, is connected to power circuits to prevent electrocution. The GFCI detects it and shuts down the power when someone gets shocked.
They are often installed in places where water may accidentally come in contact with power circuits. This includes kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. If this happens, there may be electrocution and even fires, and GFCI outlets help to prevent this.
I recommend that the outlet serving your garbage disposal should have GFCI. Even though the National Electrical Code is silent about installing GFCI in garbage disposal units, the guidelines suggest otherwise.
The code expects homeowners to install GFCI protection to all power outlets within 6 feet of a sink’s vicinity. In addition, garbage disposal machines are often installed underneath the sink, which meets this code.
Therefore, even though it is not stipulated that garbage disposal should have GFCI protection installed, it meets the above criteria. Consequently, a garbage disposal should have GFCI.
In addition, you may likely turn on the power switch with wet hands. Unfortunately, you can’t completely rule this out when working in the kitchen, no matter how careful you are. Therefore, it is advisable to install it to protect you from electrocution and fire danger at all times.
Usually, outlets that function as countertop surfaces have GFCI protection installed in the kitchen. This would include outlets behind potentially wet areas like sinks and walls.
If, by chance, you decide to install GFCI protection, here’s how you should do it.
- Install an electric box to the wall below the sink. This should be within reach of the garbage disposal power cord.
- Obtain a reasonable cable and run it through a metallic conduit. Then connect the conduit to the electric box.
- After that, check to see if the power is off with a voltage tester. If it isn’t, you should turn it off at the service point.
- Then draw 10 inches of the earlier cable out of the electric box and strip the sheath off. Then separate the wires.
- Next up, you should remove 0.5 inches of plastic from the white and black wires.
- Then it would be best if you connected the GFCI protection outlet. The brass line terminal should receive the black wire, while the silver line terminal should receive the white wire.
- After that, you should wrap the remaining bare wire around the green ground screw.
- Then you should screw the outlet into place and its plate covered.
It is important to note that if you have GFCI protection installed, it can be tripped from time to time. For example, this can happen if your garbage disposal machine leaks somewhere or external moisture.
Once this happens, the GFCI will trip if the water comes into contact with the part of the wiring that conducts electricity. But because this wire is usually covered, GFCI tripping is typically rare.
However, you should inspect your garbage disposal regularly for leaks and prevent them as much as possible to prevent the GFCI from tripping.
Does A Garbage Disposal Unit Need A Dedicated Circuit?
Generally speaking, garbage disposal units should have a dedicated circuit because they expend a lot of power in chopping food waste. Therefore, they should be connected to a circuit with a rating of 15 amps and 120 volts. If it’s close to a water source, you should utilize a 120 volts GFCI.
However, most often, what is found in many homes is that the garbage disposal machine is combined with a dishwasher machine. When this is the case, I advise connecting them to a 20 amp-rated power circuit. This is sometimes reasonable, seeing that the garbage disposal uses about four amps to 8 amps.
On the other hand, the dishwasher draws about ten amps on average. Therefore, both have a combined amp rating of between 14 amps to 18 amps of electricity. This is still appropriate for the 20 amps-rated power circuit. Always check the user manual or label when in doubt of the ratings.
Combining your garbage disposal with your dishwasher is also reasonable when you consider the garbage disposal location. In most cases, garbage disposal machines are situated underneath the sink in the kitchen. Nevertheless, I advise that you consult the user manual for the garbage disposal to know the electrical specifications.
What Happens If A Garbage Disposal Unit Doesn’t Have A GFCI?
If a garbage disposal unit doesn’t have a GFCI installed, what happens is dependent on how close it is to water. If you installed the power source correctly, and it does not come in contact with water, nothing will come about.
Whether or not to install GFCI is depended on how close the garbage disposal is to water. Therefore, you should also assess the chances of coming in contact with water. If your garbage disposal is far away from water sources like the sink, you may not need to install GFCI protection. Your chances of being electrocuted, in this case, are meager.
However, if the garbage disposal is close to a water source like a sink, the chances of coming in contact with water are very high. In this case, it is safer and less expensive in the long run to have GFCI protection installed. You never can tell when you may mistakenly touch the garbage disposal with wet hands. Water may even pour on the outlets.
If this happens, then you are well in line to receive electrocution. This can lead to severe injuries or even death in extreme cases. There may even be fire outbreaks. Nevertheless, always consult your local code to know the requirements. No worries if the code doesn’t mandate you install GFCI protection on the circuit serving your garbage disposal unit.
There won’t be any penalties or fines because you disobeyed the guidelines. I must also stress the importance of consulting the user manual to know what the manufacturer says. If the manual says you should install GFCI protection, then it’s better to air on the side of caution and install it.
Garbage disposal units are handy household appliances because they help reduce the bulk of waste for disposal. Even though it isn’t mandatory by the National Electricity Code to install GFCI protection, it is highly recommended. This is because water may contact the outlets serving your garbage disposal, and GFCI helps prevent electrocution.